Blu-Ray Review: Pixar’s Spectacular ‘Toy Story 3’ With Tom Hanks Given Amazing Blu-Ray Release

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CHICAGO – It’s always wonderful to see Blu-ray karma turn out the way it should. Blu-ray critics often see great releases with perfect HD and interesting special features for awful movies. Conversely, it’s not uncommon for great films to be given lackluster home releases. “Toy Story 3” is not only one of the best films of 2010, it’s one of the best Blu-rays as well. Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

“Toy Story 3” is one of the most deeply and purely satisfying films of not just this year, but the last several. Pixar continues to prove that the other shoe does not have to drop following critical darlings “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E,” and “Up” with a film that’s arguably better than anything they’ve done to date. “Toy Story 3” works on every level — as pure family entertainment but also as something adults will appreciate as a loving ode to the days when nothing was more important than our imagination and our friends. Like the best sequels, “Toy Story 3” doesn’t just advance or conclude the action of the films that preceded it but deepens their themes: It thematically wraps up what now must be viewed as one of the most artistically-satisfying trilogies in film history.

An entire generation has now grown up in the fifteen years since “Toy Story.” There are millions of “Andys” packing up their toys and heading off to college, as the owner of Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) is doing at the beginning of “Toy Story 3.” Pixar is asking all the “Andys” out there to pull out their toys one more time and remember the lessons of childhood and how they can help through the rest of your life.

Toy Story 3 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd, 2010
Toy Story 3 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd, 2010
Photo credit: Disney

The film opens with both a bookend to the space opening of “Toy Story 2” and a scene that almost feels like a commentary on what is one of the few weaknesses of the Pixar canon — action. Why not open with a scene straight out of a summer blockbuster? The sequence is revealed to be a memory of Andy’s playtime with Woody and the gang from years ago and the plot of the film kicks in: Andy is leaving for college and it’s time to get rid of his toys. Should they go to the attic for Andy’s future children, day care donations, or just to the trash?

The opening act is a refresher course for those that haven’t seen the films in a few years with most of the catch phrases and brief reintroductions to the cowboy, spaceman, and their friends. In fact, most animated sequels are nothing but “refresher courses” — films designed to rehash greatest hits of what fans loved before. But “Toy Story 3” has greater ambitions.

Toy Story 3 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd, 2010
Toy Story 3 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd, 2010
Photo credit: Disney

The toys end up at a daycare center where they meet a number of new characters including an image-conscious Ken (Michael Keaton), a terrifying big baby, and a seemingly-sweet bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty). Here, “Toy Story 3” turns into an amazingly entertaining action comedy not unlike a riff on “The Great Escape” as the center proves to be the most dangerous place that Woody and Buzz have yet encountered. This section of the film is clever, funny, and action-packed. It is pure entertainment: An elaborate playtime for fans of the series not unlike the one that Andy goes through in the opening scene.

The final act is where “Toy Story 3” goes from entertaining to something more. The themes that have defined not just the “Toy Story” films but almost all of the Pixar works are brought to the surface in a way that would move the most cynical soul: Imagination, friendship, and the importance of sharing these things. That’s what the “Toy Story” movies are all about — the joy of play in a way that makes you not only want to be a kid again (that’s easy) but to remember how those days can impact your current life. Woody and Buzz are not mere toys. We’re all the better for having grown up with them.

Everyone with an HD TV should AT LEAST rent “Toy Story 3.” It’s stunningly beautiful with some of the best color mixing in 1080p that I’ve ever seen. It’s gorgeous. And the sound is just as remarkable.

Toy Story 3 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd, 2010
Toy Story 3 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd, 2010
Photo credit: Disney

The combo release of “Toy Story 3” includes 4 discs — Blu-ray, Blu-ray special features, DVD, and digital copy. Wasn’t the future supposed to bring more compact packaging? Why are we up to 4 discs? In all seriousness, the answer is that people want variety in terms of how they view their favorite movie and the combo pack of “Toy Story 3” makes it so one purchase allows you to watch the film on multiple consoles.

The special features on “Toy Story 3” are even more notable than your average great Pixar release with a commentary/storyboard version of the film, dozens of extras, neat games, and more.

It’s incredibly rare for a critic to be able to say this: There is not one single, solitary flaw in the home release of “Toy Story 3.”

Special Features:
o “Day & Night” Theatrical Short
o Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science Of Adventure
o The Gangs All Here: A Look At The Returning Voice Talent
o Toy Story Trivia Dash
o Cine-Explore With Director Lee Unkrich & Producer Darla Anderson
o Beginnings: Setting A Story In Motion
o Bonnie’s Playtime
o Roundin’ Up A Western Opening
o Beyond The Toy Box: An Alternative Commentary Track
o Paths To Pixar: Editorial
o 3 Studio Stories
o And More

“Toy Story 3” features voice work by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, and Jodi Benson. It was written by Michael Arndt and directed by Lee Unkrich. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd, 2010. It is rated G and runs 103 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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