Toy Story and Toy Story 2 Blu-ray review

            This was the film which set the standard for feature-length computer animation, the CGI The Jazz Singer of animation. Pixar Studios had been around for some time already, but the completion of the first feature-length changed the face of animation. Fifteen years later and Toy Story is still an impressive accomplishment, and the studio still dominates all other competitors. The high definition presentation of animation is the most noticeable of all genres, especially when it is animation created in a computer. Though the first film is more rudimentary than those which followed, including Toy Story 2 (which is also being released on Blu-ray), Toy Story is still a treasure in high definition.

            The simplistic narrative of toys that come alive when the child leaves the room is a creative and imaginative idea with endless options. This is made apparent with the third Toy Story film on its way into theaters. In this first film we learn that toys are always frightened of the possibility of new toys. New toys mean that old toys are forgotten, and this is exactly what happens to Andy’s toy Woody doll (voiced by Tom Hanks) with the arrival of a brand-new Buzz Lightyear action figure (voiced by Tim Allen). To add even more depth to the storyline, the Buzz doll believes that he is real; no matter how many times Woody tries to convince him that he is a toy. There is also a sadistic neighborhood boy that destroys toys for his amusement and a family move that threatens the danger of lost toys.

            What makes the computer animation of Pixar so impressive isn’t the perfection as much as the imperfections. It is far too easy for things to be made perfect in computer animations, and it is in Pixar’s ability to add in the imperfections that life was breathed into the film. Small details such as the way that the toys blink make the characters more lifelike, as well as a talented voice cast. The Blu-ray provides a wonderful display of the imperfections with the image with a picture-perfect high definition presentation.

            The special edition Blu-ray release also comes with a DVD second disc. The DVD includes a number of the special features, including a sneak peek at Toy Story 3, and three all-new features. These are also included on the Blu-ray disc, along with a making-of featurette, deleted scenes and over 90 minutes worth of special features included on previous discs.

            The first sequel to Toy Story was originally meant to be an hour-long straight-to-video release, but was turned into the first theatrical sequel for Pixar. This is still the only franchise in the arsenal of the computer animation studio that has dominated the medium for over a decade now, and the Blu-ray release of the original as well as this sequel are being released on special edition in honor of the theatrical release of Toy Story 3. Both the DVD and Blu-ray discs include a sneak peek look at the characters in Toy Story 3, and there is even a ticket to see the film in the package.

            There is an obvious improvement in the graphics of Toy Story 2 from the original, which was the first feature animated film created entirely in a computer. Toy Story 2 shows off some, pushing the boundaries of animation while also creating a memorable sequel that addresses further issues of being a toy. If Toy Story is about the dangers of an old toy being replaced by a new one, Toy Story 2 is about the dangers of a damaged toy being thrown out completely.

            The day Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is scheduled to join Andy at western camp, he gets a tear in his seam. Shelved during that week, Woody begins to question his future. When Woody is stolen from a yard sale that he accidentally gets trapped at, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and a group of brave toys set out to rescue him from an evil toy salesman. Woody discovers that he was once the star of a popular franchise called Woody’s Roundup, and he has the chance to join a collection at a museum as an alternative to being forgotten as Andy grows up.

            Toy Story 2 is a sequel which doesn’t just improve the animation, but also increases in humor and overall enjoyment. There are new characters and new toy jokes, making for a better film than the original. There is such complexity to the emotions, fears and expectations of these toys that it is difficult not to relate to them, regardless of being animated or plastic.

            The Blu-ray special edition package comes with a second disc with a DVD version of the film, along with a number of special features. Along with a making-of feature and a number of deleted scenes, the new special edition includes a sneak peek at the new sequel, a new game and additional stories from the Pixar studios. The Blu-ray includes all of the previously released special features as well, adding up to over an hour of additional footage.

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