What made the original Toy Story so great, besides its significant achievement as the first-ever feature-length computer animated film, was its ability to instantly transport viewers into a magical world where it seemed completely plausible that toys were living, thinking beings who sprang to life the minute they were alone and wanted nothing more than to be loved and played with by their children. Toy Story 3 absolutely succeeds in the very same thing–adults and children alike, whether they’ve seen the original film or not, find themselves immediately immersed in a world in which Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Ham (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), the aliens, and the rest of Andy’s toys remain completely devoted to Andy (John Morris) even as he’s getting ready to pack up and leave for college. Woody scoffs at the other toys’ worries that they’ll end up in the garbage, assuring them that they’ve earned a spot of honor in the attic, but when the toys are mistakenly donated to Sunnyside Daycare, Woody is the only toy whose devotion to Andy outweighs the promise of getting played with each and every day. Woody sets off toward home alone while the other toys settle in for some daycare fun, but things don’t turn out quite as expected at the daycare thanks to the scheming, strawberry-scented old-timer bear Lots-o’-Huggin’ (Ned Beatty). Eventually, Woody rejoins his friends and they all attempt a daring escape from the daycare, which could destroy them all. The pacing of the film is impeccable at this point, although the sense of peril may prove almost too intense for a few young viewers. Pixar’s 3-D computer animation is top-notch as always and the voice talent in this film is tremendous, but in the end, it’s Pixar’s uncanny ability to combine drama, action, and humor in a way that irresistibly draws viewers into the world of the film that makes Toy Story 3 such great family entertainment.

Studio: Walt Disney Video
Year: 2010
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Run time: 84 minutes
Rating: NR

Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Disc Spec: 2 BD50
Region: A

One of this movie’s strengths is that it doesn’t gloss over these unpleasant details, nor does it spare the audience of unfortunate realities – where there are sea lions, there are also hungry sharks and orcas, and where there are newborn sea turtles, there are also dive-bombing birds. At the same time, it doesn’t bombard you with them; if anything, it’s a celebration of sea life, a reminder that, in spite of humanity’s interference, life does indeed go on.

It’s above all a magnificently written and beautifully photographed expose of ocean life. This is the second Disneynature documentary, the first being last year’s “Earth,” the reedited and redubbed version of the BBC and Discovery Channel miniseries “Planet Earth.” Despite its breathtaking imagery and entertaining narration, it felt terribly condensed, and the plight of the various animal families seemed manufactured, almost like … well, almost like a Disney film. “Oceans” wisely avoids this issue by not applying human traits to the animals; this time around, they’re not characters in a story so much as subjects being observed. If the filmmakers were to spend all their time following two or three animal groups over a given period of time, the movie would fail to show just how immensely diverse marine life truly is.

Over the course of four years, directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud captured footage from over fifty locations, revealing all manner of aquatic creatures both above and below the ocean surface. Some are gruff and ugly, like the rockfish. Some are surprisingly beautiful, like the blanket octopus, whose long, flowing tentacles give the appearance of a scarf lost in a current. Some are adorable, like the otters that freely float on their backs in the open waters off Monterey Bay. Some are bizarre, like the dragonfish, which can only survive in the waters of the China Sea. Some are naturally acrobatic, like the school of sardines able to form perfect cones and spheres. Some are frightening, like spider crabs that attack one another in multitudes so vast, we cannot see the ocean floor when the camera pulls up for a wide shot.

The film is narrated by Pierce Brosnan, who sounds not like a stuffy nature show host but like a man telling a story he genuinely finds fascinating. His voice has an appealing warmth to it, a soothing and clam quality that seems to be saying, “It’s all right – that’s what we call the circle of life.” Indeed, it isn’t easy watching a shark make a meal out of a sea lion. It is, however, amusing to watch sea lions sunbathing lazily on the beach, getting comfortable with seemingly no effort at all. It’s also heartwarming to see a mother walrus swimming with her calf. In documentaries such as this, one must take the bad with the good. This is especially true for younger audiences, who may not be aware of what happens out in the wild.
Movie Content: 9/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. “Toy Story 3″ are the vibrant colors and then overall detail. Everything shows detail and as we learn from this Blu-ray release, the animators wanted to make sure that the characters themselves do not look like toys, that they wanted to make sure the characters and toys are distinguished and the animators succeeded in every way possible.

Mr. Potato Head, you literally see the surface like the actual toy, down to its seams. Look at the hardwood floors in Andy’s room, so much detail on the floor that it looks realistic, even some outdoor scenes look photorealistic (especially the animation and CG shown during Lotso’s past, wow!). And the fabric of the clothing, you can see the threading, the weaves and how much detail went into the clothing. One scene with the monkey. The hair even was well-done, the wear and tear that the toys go through at Sunnyside Daycare is evident through the nicks and scratches and also looking at Andy’s trunk and seeing the little chips on the trunk to the paint and we can see the brush strokes on the walls.
Video Quality: 10/10

The audio mix is presented in DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio lossless track. All I can say is that “Toy Story 3 sounds magnificent. The first action scenes that startoff the film will show you how awesome this film sounds in lossless. From Mrs. Potato Head’s voice coming from the surround channels, sounds coming from the rear surround channels, LFE being utilized for the evil Dr. Porkchop’s laser beam or when Mr. Potato Head has Slinky Dog turn on its force field and Jesse calling on T-Rex, this is just impressive to hear the sound coming from all channels. Dialogue is crystal clear and music is just as clear.
Audio Quality: 10/10

Special Features

DVD

  • Day And Night Theatrical Short Filmmakers Commentary With Commentary By Director Lee Unkrich and Producer Darla Anderson
  • Bonus: The Gang’s All Here – A look at the returning voice talent for Toy Story 3.
  • Toys! – A look at all the toys from updating classic characters to developing the Sunnyside Daycare and Bonnie’s Room toys.
  • Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure (conj with NASA)
  • Paths to Pixar: Pixar Editors, past and future, share anecdotes about their career path.
  • Studio Stories: Where’s Gordon? There’s a hidden room at Pixar that we call the Where’s Gordon?, and this is its story.
  • Studio Stories: Cereal Bar The majestic and expansive Pixar cereal bar is explored.
  • Studio Stories: Clean Start The Pixar animation team shaves their heads to mark the start of TS3 animation.
  • A Toy’s Eye View: Creating a Whole New Land
  • Toys! A look at all the toys from updating classic characters to developing the Sunnyside Daycare and Bonnie’s Room toys.

Blu-ray

  • Interactive Game: Toy Story Trivia Dash
  • Cine-Explore by Dir. Lee Unkrich and Prod. Darla Anderson
  • Beyond the Toybox -commentary track
  • Beginnings with Michael Arndt – Screenwriter Michael Arndt analyzes successful opening scenes from ToyStory, Nemo and the Incredibles.
  • Bonnie’s Playtime – A roundtable discussion with the Lee Unkrich and the story artists who brought the “Bonnie’s Playtime” scene to life.
  • Roundin’ Up a Western Opening – Development process and scene analysis of “Western Opening” in its various iterations through the story process.
  • Goodbye Andy – An exploration of character design, acting and animation in the scene “Andy’s Goodbye”.
  • The Accidental Toymakers of Pixar – Meet the makers of the original Buzz Lightyear and watch how the newest version of Buzz – the Ultimate Buzz is constructed.
  • Life of a Shot – Overview of artist contribution to each step of the production pipeline on a select group of shots from the Western Opening of Toy Story 3.
  • Making of Day and Night
  • Epilogue – Stand-alone 1.33 version of the Epilogue.
  • Ken’s Dating Tips, Lotso Commercials, “Dancing with the Stars” at Pixar
  • Trailers

Special Features: 10/10

Final Thoughts

All three “Toy Stories” work well singly or as one whole story. Pixar has pulled off its fourth absolute winner in a row (performing this feat, perhaps they can make me care about “Cars 2″ next year). I would even venture to say that “Toy Story 3″ belongs with other great cinematic sequels like “The Dark Knight,” “Return of the King,” “Aliens,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” possibly even “The Godfather: Part II,” all movies that effectively expanded and completed the story and themes begun in the movies they followed.
Overall Rating: 9/10