Rating: 4 out of 5
With the advent of 3D and its growing acceptance in the movie marketplace, there’s little wonder that Disney Pixar’s re-release of Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999) would also feature 3D technology.
With the long-in-development Toy Story 3 finally coming out in June, this release no doubt facilitates two things: it reacquaints fans who had seen the earlier Toy Story films with the franchise’s characters, and it introduces the characters to new, younger next-generation fans.
It is quite a bold move to release these films as a double bill (with a short intermission in between) – the double feature will run for more than 180 minutes in all. However, patrons will only be charged the equivalent ticket price for a single 3D movie, which makes this great value for money.
The merits of the original Toy Story, a pioneering film that put Pixar firmly on the map, and Toy Story 2, which only enhanced that reputation, are just as relevant today as they were during their original releases.
The former, by comparison to its predecessor, can seem rather simplistic. It tells us that our toys have the ability to come to life while we’re not looking, and that these toys have a secret life predicated on the desire to be played with, and insecurity of becoming obsolete.
The toys belong to a boy named Andy, and they consist of a bunch of kooky characters, from a nervous T-rex to a haughty plastic potato with interchangeable body parts. Then there are the protagonists, Woody (Tom Hanks), an old-fashioned cowboy toy, and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), a brand-new space adventurer who represents everything the existing toys fear: the concept of new and improved.
While Toy Story was fairly entertaining, and a real spellbinder when it first came out – 3D computer imagery of this quality was rare back in the day – it was surpassed by its first sequel, a film with a greater dramatic arc and more advanced themes.
Part Two has Woody stolen from his home by a greedy toy collector and in danger of being sold as part of a set to a Japanese buyer. Meanwhile, a band of Woody’s toy friends, led by Buzz, set out to rescue him.
One of the most memorable moments of this film is the back story of the cowgirl toy Jessie (Joan Cusack), which tells of her abandonment by her owner. Underscored by the lovely Oscar-nominated song When She Loved Me by Sarah McLachlan, it is a remarkable sequence.
Both films were originally produced as 3D computer generated imagery, but were not projected in 3D, as such technology was not widely available in cinemas as it is now. In terms of 3D, whether it enhances the viewing of these films, one cannot say for certain – the films already looked brilliant in their original form.
One can say, however, that the films never felt like 180 minutes combined, such is the mastery of storytelling that persists in these works.
This double bill sets up nicely for the arrival of Toy Story 3 on 17 June and, especially with the continued excellence of Pixar’s works in mind, one should justifiably have high hopes that the latest – and last – film of the franchise could very well be the best.
About Yong Shu Chiang
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.
"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in!"
– Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part III