Toy Story 3 Review
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I’m starting to believe that there’s nothing that the animation geniuses at Pixar can’t do. Over the last 15 years, they’ve proven that they can make both rats and monsters absolutely lovable. They can give robots personality without a single line of dialogue. They can make audiences of all ages laugh and cry—often at the same time. They can even take a successful sequel, wait 11 years, bring in a new director, and produce a third installment that’s more than just okay—it’s actually a strong contender for franchise best.

I bet they can grill up a mean burger, too.

As Toy Story 3 opens, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the rest of Andy’s favorite toys are anxiously awaiting the day when Andy (John Morris) leaves for college. Always Andy’s favorite, Woody finds himself in a box headed for Andy’s new home—but the others, fearing that they’re going to be thrown out for good, decide to take matters into their own hands by climbing into a box that’s heading to Sunnyside Day Care. After all, it may not be Andy’s house, but at least they’ll be played with again.

Woody tries to talk them out of it, but once he joins them at Sunnyside—and they meet a whole bunch of lovable new friends—he reluctantly leaves them to begin their new lives. On his way back to Andy, though, Woody discovers that life at Sunnyside isn’t what it seems—and he’s forced to choose between getting back to Andy and rescuing his friends.

From the imaginative, action-packed opening sequence of Toy Story 3, it’s pretty clear that the fine folks at Pixar aren’t content to sit back and rest on their laurels. With each new release, they step up their game just a little bit more. They learn a few new tricks, and they try to make everything even better than before. And Toy Story 3 is no exception. The animation is crisper and more lifelike than before. In fact, it looks so real that you might just forget that it’s not. And although the film is showing in 3D, I have a feeling that it’ll look every bit as dazzling in plain old 2D (and you won’t have to worry about keeping those pesky glasses from sliding down your nose).

But Toy Story 3 isn’t just visually stunning. The writing, too, is as good as it’s ever been. The plot may be built on the same Toy Story foundation (the toys get separated from each other and/or Andy, and they have to plan an elaborate escape), but it’s so well crafted that it still feels completely fresh and original. It’s clever and quick-witted—the kind of stuff that makes you shake your head in amazement, wondering, How on Earth did they come up with that?

Best of all, director Lee Unkrich (who’s going it alone in the Pixar director’s chair for the first time) gets the tone just right. It’s touching and sentimental—but it’s never sappy or sad. It’s suspenseful and even scary—but it’s not too scary. It’s light-hearted and fun—and its moving conclusion will leave you with Pixar’s signature warm-fuzzies.

Not only has the Pixar team produced another extraordinary animated film—one that audiences of all ages can enjoy—but they’ve single-handedly managed to brighten up an otherwise lackluster summer movie season with an endearing adventure that, animated or not, is destined to be one of the year’s best.

Blu-ray 3D Review:
Unlike the other two films in the Toy Story trilogy, Toy Story 3 was actually made in 3D—so it’s no surprise that it looks pretty spectacular, making the already remarkable animation look all the more lifelike.

As in Toy Story and Toy Story 2, the film’s opening scene offers a hint of the stunning 3D action to come. And, from that imaginative train robbery opener to the suspenseful moments at the Tri-County Landfill, Toy Story 3 comes to life in 3D.

Unfortunately, the 3D disc doesn’t come with any new special features—but you’ll find hours of extras on the included Blu-ray disc (which is covered below).

Blu-ray Review:
If you pick up your very own copy of the four-disc combo pack release of Toy Story 3, the fun doesn’t stop when the closing credits roll—because this massive Blu-ray/DVD/digital collection includes hours of games and commentaries and other little extras.

The main feature is included on the first Blu-ray disc, along with Day & Night, the short that accompanied the film in theaters. There are also a couple of extras, including Toys!, a short feature that shows the work that went into rebuilding the old characters and creating the new ones. Most of the features, however, are found on the second disc.

Disc two is divided into four categories (which don’t always make a whole lot of sense), and it’s absolutely loaded with behind-the-scenes features and other fun stuff—making it a great way to spend a rainy (or snowy) afternoon.

For some reason, both commentary tracks are found on the second disc (on the Film Fans menu)—including the always-entertaining Cine-Explore track, which features lots of sketches and four years of stories from director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson. Other highlights include The Gang’s All Here (found on the Family Play menu), which introduces the voice cast and explores the process involved in recording their lines. In Bonnie’s Playtime: Story Roundtable (on the Film Fans menu), director Lee Unkrich sits down with a team of story artists to talk about what went into developing the scene in Bonnie’s room. The Film Fans menu also includes three short Studio Stories features, which are always worth watching. Or, for more shorts, snippets, teasers, trailers, and other fun stuff (including a feature for you Dancing with the Stars fans), take some time to click through the Publicity menu.

There’s definitely no shortage of features in this colossal combo pack—so Toy Story/Pixar fans won’t want to miss it. It’s a spectacular Blu-ray release for a spectacular animated film.

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