Portions of this review are from our coverage of the 2D release of Toy Story 2, reviewed by M. Enois Duarte.
As the tagline once declared in 1999, the toys are definitely back in this sequel to an animated film which took everyone by surprise only four year earlier. For 'Toy Story 2', Pixar Studios continue their extraordinary efforts in computer-generated animation and intelligent storytelling by revisiting the same toys that put their name on the map. John Lasseter and Lee Unkrich ('Monsters, Inc.', 'Finding Nemo') join forces to reunite Woody and Buzz for another adventure of action figures surviving the dog-eat-dog universe of humans. Whereas the first film tackles bedroom politics, this follow-up takes Pixar's memorable characters outside and confronts them with the real world of kids outgrowing playthings and transformed into a collector's item.
As Andy prepares for summer camp, excitement and tension builds amongst the toys, particularly in Woody (Tom Hanks) who's anxious of leaving everyone unattended. But while playing, Andy accidentally rips Woody's arm and is forced to leave his favorite cowboy behind. Feeling a little rejected, Woody finds himself mistakenly thrown into a pile of other unwanted toys during a garage sale. When he is found and stolen by the excitable toy collector Al (Wayne Knight), Buzz (Tim Allen) and friends make it their mission to rescue their buckaroo friend. At Al's apartment, Woody discovers he's a worldwide phenomenon and meets his trusted steed Bullseye, his cowgirl sidekick Jessie (Joan Cusack), and Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammar). Soon, Woody is conflicted with accepting this newfound glory and returning to Andy's bedroom.
What differentiates this sequel from its predecessor is this emotional drama which pits our wooden star at odds with his personal aspirations as a toy. But much like the first film, this inner struggle is one that clearly reaches at the understanding of mature audiences. As before, the little ones watch in wonderment at the animation while parents follow the ingenious narrative on a changing perspective that only comes with age. With time, we all grow more willingly distant from those things which define our childhood and learn to accept new modes of identification - simplicity is overruled by the material complexities of grown-ups. By endowing Woody and Jessie with human characteristics, we see their conversations slowly exploring these sentiments, and we can empathize with their purpose of existence suddenly fading away.
Of course, all of this is up for dispute, and one can easily suggest I'm reading far too much into the simple story about the everyday lives of toys. But in all honesty, this is exactly what keeps the Pixar films so interesting and entertaining, along with the computer-generated magic of the animators. Their attempts at recreating the world with incredible detail and accuracy are simply astounding. From the interiors of Andy's bedroom and Al's Toy Barn to specific defects and textures of random items, every aspect of the picture is a jaw-dropping experience of visual delights. With the help of voice talents like Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack, and Kelsey Grammar, 'Toy Story 2' is an animated film that places Pixar Studios in a league of their own.
The first film in the Toy Story trilogy proved to be a solid Blu-ray 3D release, but it didn't hit the lofty scores most Disney Blu-ray 3D titles (rightfully) earn here. Toy Story 2 has come to put an end to that streak of 1. How will it do it?
By looking so absolutely amazing that it's hard to believe the film was made so long ago, and in 2D to boot. Disney, home run, you know the drill...
In the opening of this film, there are some slight ghosting issues, in the space titles, a few in the stars, the first house exterior and the mailbox through the window, and the back of Buzz's circular helmet flange has a very strong jagged edge. But within a few minutes, the film turns perfect and doesn't look back. No ghosting from then on out, at least on my display! Colors remain amazing, clarity fantastic, textures far ahead of their time. Depth is regularly fantastic. The driving sequences look amazing, while numerous set pieces, like the road crossing and the aisle in the toy barn, wow! You would never know this film wasn't made with 3D in mind in this wonderful conversion! Even the opening video game sequence has a ton of depth, and it looks really, really cool.
So, in summary: starts out a little rough, but corrects itself in under a half hour, the remaining runtime looks perfect. Fantastic depth, ghosting disappears altogether. Amazing release. Amazing.
This release of Toy Story 2 is a combo pack, with four ways of viewing the film! Included is a 3D disc, a 2D disc (same as previously released), a DVD copy, and for the first time, a Digital Copy of the film!
There is no exclusive content on the 3D disc, aside from pre-menu trailers in 3D for Brave and Planes, and a full 3D menu.
As with the first film, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment brings 'Toy Story 2' with fairly nice package of supplements, some of which are exclusive to this Blu-ray edition.
While the Blu-ray 3D release of Toy Story didn't earn the regular super high marks that Disney 3D titles rightfully deserve (for being the best currently available on the format, bar none!), this release of Toy Story 2, debuting in 3D, rights most wrongs. It's a solid viewing experience that retains all the strengths of the 2D iteration. Really. You would not know this film wasn't brand new and made in 3D unless I told you. It looks that darned good!