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Movie sequels are usually commission at the behest of Hollywood accountants, who are hoping to cash in on the brand recognition of an original film that cleaned up at the box office. Said sequels tend to be little more than pale imitations of the money making original films that inspired them. However, it is a rare sequel that actually surpasses the original film. TOY STORY 2 ($40) is an example of that rarest of sequels… a film that is true to the original, maintains real artistic integrity and proves itself to be even more delightful and satisfying for an audience looking for a second helping. The folks at Pixar are consummate storytellers, and with TOY STORY 2, they build upon the foundation the laid with the first installment, which allows a bit more complexity for the familiar characters and the new situations in which they find themselves.

In the time that has passed since TOY STORY, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) have become the best of friends and share the position of being Andy’s favorite toys. Of course, for Woody, being one of Andy’s favorite toys for so long means that he has seen the most wear and tear, which results in Andy tearing Woody’s arm, just before the boy is to leave for cowboy camp. The disappointed Woody finds himself shelved, along with another one of Andy’s broken toys- a toy that just happens to be destined for the forthcoming yard sale. Despite his fragile condition, Woody mounts a rescue mission to save the other toy from the yard sale, which unfortunately, results in Woody falling into the hands of a disreputable toy collector named Al McWhiggin (voiced by Wayne Knight), who also owns the heavily advertised Al's Toy Barn.

While Al arranges for Woody to be refurbished, Woody soon discovers why… It seems that that Woody a valuable collectible based on the Woody's Roundup television series. While in the company of other collectables from the show that include Woody’s cowgirl sidekick Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack), Woody’s horse Bullseye, and Stinky Pete the Prospector (voiced by Kelsey Grammer), Woody leans that he is the final piece in Al’s collection, which Al intends to sell to a museum in Japan. While Woody resigns himself to his fate, Buzz and some of the other toys have left the safety of Andy’s room and have set off on their own adventure to rescue their friend from the unscrupulous toy store owner... The superb vocal talent behind TOY STORY 2 also features Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf, Estelle Harris, Jonathan Harris and Andrew Stanton.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (and Pixar) has made TOY STORY 2 available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. No surprises here, this is another flawless 1080p presentation that will delight fans looking to make the upgrade from standard definition. On Blu-ray, TOY STORY 2 is even more demonstrative of Pixar’s technological evolution, with this movie appearing even more rich and detailed than the original TOY STORY. There are definite improvements in texture mapping, as well as the lighting and shading of the imagery over what was apparent in TOY STORY, but not so much so, that the two films no longer resemble each other. Color rendition is also improved over the first feature. While no more or less vivid, the hues appear to have more variety and nuance than their predecessor. Blacks are beyond reproach, and the whites are uniformly excellent. Contrast and shadow detail are as virtually perfect as the computers could render them. Coming from the digital files, the picture is free from grain, noise and imperfections. In other words… the picture is flawless.

TOY STORY 2 is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. With the larger scope than the previous installment, TOY STORY 2 also features a more aggressive and intricate sound design. Additionally, there is more balance between the front and rear channels, which makes the sound design more immersive. There are plenty of little sounds that help complete the sonic environments, as well as the larger sound effects that are effortlessly directional. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is absolutely top of the line. There is the rich musical component, which highlights Randy Newman’s songs and music, plus the film’s sound effects are suitable bolstered by the lossless format. The bass channel is punchy enough for the material, without ever going overboard. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director John Lasseter, co-directors Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon and writer Andrew Stanton. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Episode Two (four minutes), Paths To Pixar: Technical Artists (five minutes), Studio Stories: Sleep Deprivation Lab (two minutes), Studio Stories: Pinocchio (two minutes), Studio Stories: The Movie Vanishes (three minutes), Pixar Zoetrope (two minutes), Celebrating Our Friend Joe Ranft (thirteen minutes), Making Toy Story 2 (eight minutes), John Lasseter Profile (three minutes), Cast Of Characters (four minutes), Jessie’s Gag (one minute), Who’s The Coolest Toy (three minutes), The Rider In The Sky Music Medley (three minutes), Design (twenty seven minutes), Production (fourteen minutes), Music & Sound (fourteen minutes) and Publicity (nine minutes). Trailers, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers and a Special Sneak Peek At Toy Story 3, close out the standard supplements. TOY STORY 2 is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). On disc two ,one will find a DVD edition of TOY STORY 2.

TOY STORY 2 is that rarest of sequels, a movie that surpasses the wonderful original film that inspired it. The Blu-ray presentation is another example of why computer animated film make for reference quality high definition releases- both the image and sound on this disc are utterly flawless. Absolutely, positively recommended.



Toy Story 2 (Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo w/ Blu-ray Packaging) (1999)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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