Toy Story
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Toy Story



There are a lot of good films, even a sizable number that can be considered great but only a very rare few that have change the very artistic expression of cinema. ‘Citizen Kane’ brought film into a modern sophistication of camera work never before imagined. ‘Star Wars’ altered the public’s acceptance of science fiction ushering s new age of special effects. In 1995 another cinematic revolution quietly took place with a family film that would redefine animated movies forever; ‘Toy Story’. Not only did it place a little animation studio, Pixar’ on the map but it proved that animation was not only able to survive into the future but become a well respected aspect of the art form. As things would work out Pixar would become associated with the Walt Disney Studio. After all back in 1937 they released ‘Snow White’, the first featured length animated movie that started the entire genre. ‘Toy Story’ proved to both audiences and critics that a movie could be counted among the best of the year even if it was not done with real live actors. This movie secured its place in movie history by becoming the first featured length film done completely by computer graphics. CGI had been used for years to enhance the live action of a movie in films like ‘Tron’ but this was the grand experiment to determine whether a computer could help create an entire movie. Some may think that computer animation is a simple matter; the machine does all the hard work. What Pixar did that changed the world was to demonstrate the use of computer modeling as a tool used by talented human artists, not their replacement. The trend that was started here would lead to the current condition where Pixar films; ‘Wall-E’ and ‘Up’ ere considered by many as the best animated movies of their respective years but in strong contention as the best film, period.

Pixar had been building up to this film for awhile. One of their best known shorts was of a playful little desk lamp. The infused it with such incredible personality that as you watched it frolicking around the screen you tended to forget that it was an animation. This would become the trademark for Pixar; anthropomorphizing their creations imbibing life to their drawings. This methodology would achieve new heights in this film as a simple box of children’s toys is transformed into characters beloved by millions of children and parents. Adding a great deal to this equation is the natural marketing opportunities afforded by a movie about toys. Each cast member can be sold so kids all over can play out their favorite scenes. What is truly amazing is the incredible amount of work went into this film. Each second of screen time required 24 frames or 86,400 frames per hour or 165,240 frames for the 81 minute running time. Each frame required about 8 hours so you can see just how labor intensive this type of animation can be. Well, the effort was well worth it; this remains a classic and is certain to entertain families for generations to come. Helping this along Disney and Pixar have decided to r-release both ‘Toy Story’ and its sequel, ‘Toy Story 2’ on Blu-ray.

Pixar learned a very important fact early on and made it part of their corporate strategy; the technological wonders are nice but what makes for a true success is telling the audience a readily identifiable story. In this case the premise is one of the oldest themes in human history; concern over maintaining you place in the community. Whether you feel threatened by the new kid in school or the young guy just hired into your department, the story depicted here is one we understand because at some point we’ve loved it. Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is an old fashion pull string cowboy toy but he has always been the sad hoc leader of the toys in Andy’s
(voiced by John Morris) room. Everything is going pretty good until Andy’s birthday roles around and the boy receives a new toy; ‘Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen). Buzz doesn’t seem to realize that he’s a toy thinking he is an actual Space Ranger and begins to push Woody out of his long held position as favorite toy. Woody immediately hatches a plan to discredit the new toy but soon they are both trapped away from the safety of home having to learn to depend on each other to get back. At this point the movie morphs into a couple of other favorite genres; the road trip and the buddy flick. The genus of Pixar is home they tell a genuine human story through the use of animated characters. Even if you have this film on DVD you should seriously consider reinvesting in this high definition release. The Pixar rendering has a three dimensional look that pops in 1080p. You can fully appreciate the care and effort that went into the texture and shading that bring an added dimension of realism to the video. The audio is also better than this film has ever had with a rich DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The sound stage is expansive, filling the room making every little detail audible. Even if you don’t have kids this is a definite must have movie.

Posted 03/22/2010

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