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Securing its place in motion picture history, TOY STORY ($40) was the first fully computer animated film, which put its studio, Pixar, on the map, and showed that this type of animated film was not only viable, but also lucrative. As such, TOY STORY can be credited for giving rise to the entire computer animated film industry, which has sprung up from the seed that Pixar planted. In the fifteen years since TOY STORY was released, not only Pixar has gone on to one artistic (and commercial) triumph after another, their genius ultimately resulted in the studio being incorporated into Walt Disney Studios, with the Pixar creative team taking the reins over all of Disney’s animation. Of course, all of this undeniable success is traceable back to the beauty and genius of a little animated film known as TOY STORY.

Considering that TOY STORY was the first fully computer animated film, there is no denying the brilliance and innovation that went into the technological aspects of such an undertaking. However, it isn’t the technology that made TOY STORY a great movie. It was old-fashioned story telling and character development that made TOY STORY truly great. Pixar has mastered the art form of subtle complexity, which allows theirs characters to be fully formed, without being bogged down by unnecessary exposition. They also know how to keep their film’s light, briskly paced and decidedly amusing, which is definitely evidenced in TOY STORY. The premise of is grounded in the utmost of simplicity… what do toys do when there are no people around watching them? Well, they "live" a rather complex and interesting existence, which is centered on the child, whose playthings they are.

TOY STORY spins its tale around the toys that belong to an eight-year-old boy named Andy. Because Andy’s family is moving to a new home in a matter of days, his mom moves up his Birthday party, which catches the assortment of toys that live in Andy’s room off guard. An old-fashioned, taking, pull-string cowboy doll named Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is Andy’s favorite and is in charge of the nervous group of toys, who are concerned about what new playthings Andy may be getting for his birthday. While most of the birthday gifts have little chance of displacing Andy’s existing toys, Andy’s surprise final gift could be a problem. Said final gift turns out to be a Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen). Buzz is a deluxe action figure, with glowing lights and other cool features, which make him a formidable threat to Woody’s position as Andy’s favorite toy. While he does his best to try to maintain his cool and his position, Woody eventually allows his insecurity and jealousy over Buzz’s sudden popularity get better of him, which ultimately results in both Woody and Buzz becoming lost, and the two toys needing to work together if they want to get back to Andy… before he moves away for good. The superb vocal talent behind TOY STORY also features Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf and Erik von Detten.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (and Pixar) has made TOY STORY available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Okay… now I get to hurl superlatives at the 1080p presentation, which is nothing short of flawless. Since TOY STORY was born of the digital realm, this high definition presentation is taken from the digital source material, ensuring pure pixel perfection, even fifteen years after the movie first appeared in theaters. TOY STORY looks so absolutely gorgeous in high definition, so much so, that this is an absolute must have upgrade for anyone who may already own the standard definition DVD version of the film. The levels of image sharpness, clarity and detail truly impress from the first frame until the last. Additionally, the texturing on all the 3D objects in the film really sparkles, especially the plastic quality to all the toys in the movie. Colors are rich and sometimes ridiculously vivid, yet they are completely stable and perfect. Blacks are absolutely flawless, as are the whites. Additionally, the picture boasts the kind of ultra-smooth contrast that can only be created in the digital realm. Coming off the digital files, there is neither grain nor visual imperfections in the image.

TOY STORY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Sure the sound design may be a little more front-loaded than newer soundtracks, but this is another category, in which this Blu-ray is worthy of superlatives. There is plenty of activity in the mix, with plenty of little sounds that bring to life the world in which the toy and human characters inhabit. Channel separations are distinct and panning between channels is smoothly implemented. Thanks to the lossless encode, Randy Newman’s songs and music sound better than before, plus the sound effects also get a substantial boost in clarity. The bass channel keeps the sound grounded, while never calling undue attention to itself. Dialogue has an excellent sense of presence, it addition to being fully understandable. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Subtitles are provided in English, French and Spanish.

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-writer Andrew Stanton, supervising animator Pete Docter, art director Ralph Eggleston, supervising technical director Bill Reeves and producers Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off (three minutes), Paths To Pixar: Artists (five minutes), Studio Stories: John's Car (one minute), Studio Stories: Baby AJ (two minutes), Studio Stories: Scooter Races (two minutes), Buzz Takes Manhattan (two minutes), Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw (eight minutes), Filmmakers Reflect (seventeen minutes), Making Toy Story (twenty minutes), The Legacy Of Toy Story (twelve minutes), Designing Toy Story (six minutes), Design (fourteen minutes), Story (fourteen minutes), Production (fourteen minutes), Music & Sound (ten minutes) and Publicity (ten minutes). Trailers, Deleted Scenes and a Special Sneak Peek At Toy Story 3, close out the standard supplements. TOY STORY is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). On disc two, one will find a DVD edition of TOY STORY.

In addition to being a thoroughly wonderful movie, TOY STORY is also a milestone in filmmaking. The Blu-ray presentation is a flawless must have upgrade for anyone who has a Blu-ray player and a previous DVD edition of the film. For everyone else, this release is just a must have! Absolutely recommended.



Toy Story (Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo w/ Blu-ray Packaging) (1995)


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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