Hello ladies and gentlemen, and today I’m going to give you another review from recent history in the shape of one of my favourite films ever, Toy Story 3.
Now let’s think back to Toy Story 1, back in 1995 when it changed not only the way in which we look at animated films but it also made cinematic history too. It was the first feature film to be made in with CGI and it covered one of the most interesting subjects: what happens to toys when the owners aren’t playing with them. When I first saw it as a kid I was astonished, it was instantly something I could relate to and to see them come to life when Andy wasn’t around and have these adventures was just incredible. Pixar truly made something magical with that film and then they decided to make a sequel in the shape of Toy Story 2 in 1999. It was originally going to be a direct-to-video sequel but along the line they decided to turn it into a theatrical movie. Toy Story 2 must be one of my favourite sequels ever, it had a greater depth of story, more characters full of originality and charm, more locations and a greater sense of urgency to rescue friends in distress. It was another successful film and the part of the story that dealt with Jessie’s past with that beautiful song, it always touches my heart every time and I feel in many ways that Toy Story 2 was superior to the original in the sense that it went further to explain how toys feel about their owners and what their futures hold and how they have to stay together as long as possible.
So in the summer of 2010, 15 years after the first film and 11 years after the second we were given the third in the series and I have to admit when I heard about the film going into production I had to question whether Pixar were going to be able to recapture the magic that they created with the first two films because of the long duration of time between the last prequel and the way in which world of cinema has changed since back then. Thankfully my doubts about the film were completely unnecessary as Toy Story 3 in my opinion is one of the best films I have ever seen. Period.
Now everyone knows the plot of the film, but I shall give a brief overview; basically Andy is 17 and heading into college and is deciding what to do with his toys, Woody is chosen to be taken to college while the others are meant to be put in the attic. However the gang are almost thrown out in the garbage, thinking they are unwanted by Andy the gang escape and end up in day-care. When things don’t turn out to be as great as they had hoped the group band together to escape and find their way back to Andy. The great thing about Toy Story 3 is that it puts you right back in the same place that you were in when watching the earlier films years ago. You get that great feeling of nostalgia as soon as the movie begins. It’s like time hasn’t affected them at all, everything looks and feels right, like looking at an old photograph. Woody is still an optimistic leader, Buzz is still Woody’s best friend and biggest supporter, Jessie is the high-spirited lass that she was from before along with Bullseye the horse and the rest of the cast from Rex to Mr. Potato Head and everyone else feels right. Besides a few old faces that aren’t in this film, the script and story help justify the reasons for why they are no longer in Andy’s toy collection in a subtle way.
What has to be said is that Toy Story 3 is a really emotive film and really tackles the subject matter that Stinky Pete talking about in the last film, about toys when they reach the end of their play cycle with their owners and what happens after that point. We see that some toys end up in day-care; some are thrown away or some given to new children. This film does an incredible job of tackling this new set of situations that the toys are in, the story is absolutely precious, with the new characters involved like Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, Chuckles, Mr. Pricklepants and Ken among many others adding a new layer of enjoyment to the Toy Story series. They all have interesting stories to tell and when you see how they interact with the original cast, it’s really cool.
From a visual standpoint Toy Story 3 is just remarkable and it really does show how far technology has come in the world of 3D animation. After watching the first two films and seeing how they looked, this film is just on a whole different scale. Toy Story 3 has an incredible amount of detail going into it, when it comes to the character models they are amazingly detailed, crisp and shiny, the way the light hits them at different times of the day and use of colour really help give the toys a sense of realism. This applies to both the toys and the human characters, especially the humans who actually look much better than previous films and have some similarities to other Pixar films. The different locations that appear in the film really do display a lot of detail too and present a lot of chances for some varied colour schemes and interactivity with the toys too. Never have the toys, human characters and locations ever looked so good.
Also having Randy Newman come back to compose the soundtrack is fabulous as he gives us that same unifying sound that resides in the world of Toy Story. The music is nostalgic, emotive, soft and heartfelt and while the songs don’t quite meet that same emotional peak from Toy Story 2 where Jessie’s song moved me to tears, this soundtrack has a lot of scenes that will make you want to cry. And speaking of crying I know it’s been mentioned many times before but this film really is one of those films that make you cry, I don’t cry very often in films unless it’s The Shawshank Redemption and a few other choice titles. But I saw this film 3 times in the cinema and I welled up each time, it’s that trademark Pixar magic touch that captures your heart and makes you shed tears when it matters. And when I hear some people say, “What’s wrong with you, crying in an animated film about toys? Are you some sort of weirdo?” I say go eat me, I’ve heard people cry at worse films than this, I say cry at Toy Story 3 it’s worth it. I also want to give credit to the cast as they were magnificent in this film, Tom Hanks & Tim Allen are still in top form as Woody & Buzz Lightyear, their friendship is still magnetic and with the story in this film it takes the characters to different territories and we see new sides of them too especially with Wood because in a way it really is his story. Joan Cusack is still as impressive as ever as Jessie and the same can be said for Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Wallace Shawn as Rex and John Ratzenberger as Hamm. One special mention should also be given to Blake Clark as Slinky Dog who does a fantastic job as the new voice for Slinky after the death of the original actor Jim Varney. And the two final mentions I will give out are to Ned Beatty as Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear who gives us a very interesting, scary and wonderful performance and Michael Keaton as Ken is just fabulous, everything he says is just perfect and when there’s a scene all about him, he is just on fire!
In truth you really don’t expect a film about toys and what happens to them after they are used up to be so good, but it is. The story is beautiful and well-told and certain scenes will really hit home just like the way a good film should, while I’m sort of in two minds about whether it’s the best film in the Toy Story series because I am really attached to the second film, I’m kind of leaning towards this film because it felt so sad and beautiful at the end. The film’s subject matter is covered with such compassion and care that you really feel for the toys, you feel attached to them and want to see what happens to them, the film is really dark in nature too and has the greatest level of emotion that the series has offered so far. I would say that it is the most emotive animated film in existence and it’s also one of the few films to make me smile when I left the cinema.
In conclusion Toy Story 3 is like looking into a mirror of your past and revisiting old memories. It shows you what you enjoyed in life and how these memories whether they be psychical or otherwise can stay with you regardless of how old you are. Pixar proved once again that a sequel can be as good or even better than its predecessor when the right amount of time, dedication and hard work is put into it. Pixar have made a sequel that is now part of trilogy that is better than a lot of live action film trilogies and that’s saying something. To anyone who still hasn’t seen this film I highly recommend it. Toy Story 3 is truly amazing and I love it to death, it was my 2nd favourite film of 2010 and I think it’s in my top 50 films of all time too. Ultimate satisfaction thy name is Toy Story 3!