Toy Story DVD Review

Once you've figured out the technology, it's easy to forget there's a story to tell. So many moves toss in all the extravagant special effects their budget can handle, but in the end, you end up with a lifeless, shallow piece of work. Pixar is not one of those companies. "Toy Story" is a Disney classic, one of the most enjoyable, entertaining, and imaginative films to ever come from the studio.

Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is Andy's favorite toy. On his birthday, Andy receives the hottest toy on the market, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen). Things begin to go haywire when Buzz becomes the center of attention not only to the other toys in the room, but to Andy as well. In a fit of rage, the age-old cowboy sends the new kid in town out of the window. Realizing his mistake, Woody sets out not only to get Buzz back, but also to put a smile back on Andy's face, whose mood has changed since the loss of his two favorite toys.

"Toy Story" isn't just smart, it's genius. The concept is simple, but its execution is flawless. It's almost impossible to make a movie that can appeal to the younger set, the teenagers, and the adults, but "Toy Story" fits that mold perfectly. If you don't laugh during this movie, you need to rethink why you even watch movies in the first place.

Yes, the animation still remains spectacular, even after other Pixar films have obviously eclipsed it technology wise. Everything is perfect, from the realistic textures to the uncanny use of lighting. Each of the characters is designed obviously to sell merchandise, but they all have their own unique personality. You'll probably end up with a Mr. Potato Head in your house after watching this whether or not you have kids.

Of course you could go on for days about how great it looks, but you'll go on even longer about just how funny this movie really is. Most of the comedy early on comes from Buzz Lightyear, who is insistent he really is THE Buzz Lightyear. It does create a rather large and obvious plot hole (if he doesn't think he's a toy, why does he act like one?), but it doesn't matter. The situations it creates are some of the most memorable and enjoyable in the past 20 years. The countless in-jokes and movie references make it perfect for repeat viewing.

Say all you want about the Disney "classics," but I'll surely sit down with "Toy Story" instead of 90% of the companies vault. This is a film that makes childhood movie watching complete, and the same could very well be said for adulthood. Films rarely get any better than this. (***** out of *****)

Not only is "Toy Story" a classic movie, it's a landmark DVD. This was the first movie to ever get a direct digital-to-digital transfer, meaning it was taken right from the computer and pressed. There is no time for anything to degrade or get damaged. If a DVD can have a perfect picture, this disc proves it.

Presented in 1.77:1 widescreen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the presentation. I could stop right here and you would get the point. Yes, you can see some very mild compression at times, but as far as what's expected for the format, it's the best you'll ever see. The resolution DVD offers doesn't affect the movie that much either. If you've got the proper set-up, this will look just as spectacular as it likely did on Pixar's monitors. (*****)

Though it's not a movie that will blow you away, the subtle touches in the audio department make this one of the elite discs on the market. If happens behind the viewer in the movie, you hear it behind you in the proper speaker every time. It never once misses a moment, making this an enthralling audio experience. Those with only a stereo set-up will still get use from this 5.1 track. The use of audio in these channels is amongst the best. Subwoofers across the US get a nice jolt in a few segments, particularly at the gas station when the truck rolls in. (*****)

Reviewed here is the disc from the "Ultimate Toy Box," a 3-disc master set of the two films and a full DVD of extras. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the extras on the individual discs are the same as those included here. Nevertheless, there's some nice stuff here.

Every time the Pixar guys get behind the microphone for a commentary, viewers benefit. John Lasseter is always enthusiastic and here he makes no exception to that rule. Next we have the inspiration for "Toy Story," an Academy Award winning short "Tin Toy." Not only is it entertaining, but it's incredible to see the progress that was made from 1988 to 1995 in computer animation.

"The Story Behind Toy Story" is a basic making-of. If you've seen one documentary on how a CG film comes together, you've seen them all. Admittedly, you will see some interesting stuff (including storyboards for an alternate opening), but by now we should all know the rest. Fifty (!) "Toy Story Treats" are included. These are short clips that bridged commercials for ABC's Saturday morning cartoons. It's great to have these in one place.

There are two separate sections of interviews "from the set" starring Buzz and Woody. These are occasionally funny, but not hilarious. Finally, you can see how the film fared in different countries with a reel of multiple language clips from the Buzz and Woody's first meeting. (****)

If you ever question why you bought a DVD or what benefits it can bring, this is the disc to use. Every scene shows off the power this format has. Oh, and you get a movie too. That's a win-win scenario.

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