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December 10, 2010
Toy Story 3 (3-disc) Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
24/6/201017/11/2010Walt DisneyLee Unkrich
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1PGTom Hanks
Tim Allen

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Woody, Buzz and Jessie in Toy Story 3.

Pixar's first movie, Toy Story, was not only the first fully CG movie released to cinemas but also a massive risk for the upstart company. There was little need to worry though as that first film went on to gross a phenomenal $US361 million worldwide, or around $US600 million if adjusted for inflation to today's dollar. As they say, the rest is history with Pixar since becoming the biggest company for animated movies with an even more successful Toy Story 2 released in 1999. Fifteen years on from that first movie, and eleven years from the sequel, Pixar are back with Toy Story 3. Can the magic return once again?

Andy is now 17 and ready to head off to college, leaving Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and the rest of the toy-box gang to ponder their uncertain futures. When the toys are accidentally donated to the Sunnyside Daycare center they're initially overjoyed to once again be played with, but their enthusiasm quickly gives way to horror as they discover the true nature of the establishment under the rule of the deceptively welcoming "Lotso" Bear. Now, all of the toys must band together in one final, crazy scheme to escape their confines and return home to Andy.

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Sunnyside Daycare Center in Toy Story 3.
Toy Story 3 was directed by Lee Unkrich (who co-directed Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc and Toy Story 2) and while the film could have become a weak reminder of the two brilliant prequels, it forms its own engrossing storyline, introducing plenty of new characters, but retaining plenty of heart. Even in the opening moments we are made aware that this is a different film when Woody (again voiced by Tom Hanks) names the characters that have been "lost" over the years since the last film. While many are gone there are plenty of other characters to fall in love with including Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton), the teddy bear Lotso (Ned Beatty), and Bonnie (Emily Hahn) while favourites including Buzz (Tim Allen), Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles), Rex (Wallace Shawn) and Hamm (John Ratzenberger) return.

One aspect of this movie which I do admire, is that it has a darker tone then the two originals. It's not a light-hearted comedy, but rather a much more serious dramatic movie which has a conclusion that will have you on the edge of your seat. That's not to say there isn't plenty of humour in the film, it just seems more understated.

I love the Toy Story franchise and if anything I would place this third movie as the best in the franchise which is a remarkable achievement in a world where sequels seem to diminish in quality rather then increase. If you loved the originals there is no reason not to grab this release and add it to your collection.

When we saw Toy Story 3 in cinemas we saw the 3D version which, much like Avatar use the technique to provide subtle enhancements rather than throwing things out of the screen at you. It was a good effect, and added another layer to the movie. Sadly this Blu-Ray release only contains the 2D version of the film - no doubt there will be a 3D version released sometime - but that may be years away with no official comment from Disney or Pixar on the release yet.

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Barbie and Ken having a giggle.
So let's look at this 2D Blu-Ray transfer and it's fair to say this is an absolutely pristine, reference- quality release. This transfer is presented in the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and taken directly from the digital source so there are no film artifacts, and the transfer is identical to the way in which the filmmakers intended the film to be seen. Indeed there isn't a single negative aspect to this reference quality transfer. It's sublime.

Equally impressive is the audio track on the Toy Story 3 Blu-Ray. For that Disney and Pixar have provided two brilliant English tracks; DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (16-bit/48Khz) and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-ES (24-bit/48Khz) so no matter your setup you're covered. Needless to say we have absolutely no hesitation in stating the both of these tracks are reference quality. Dialogue is clear while the effects, which are produced in a sound stage in post-production, are gorgeous and make great use of the surround sound channels. The Childcare center really sounds full of life, and children.

Beyond those two main tracks Walt Disney has filled this release up with other tracks including an English Descriptive Audio encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 320kbps, Chinese, Korean, Chinese Mandarin, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps. We briefly sampled these tracks and would be pretty hard-pressed to find faults with any of them.

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Lotso is looking at his house...
As expected for such a major release there is quite an extensive package of extras, so much so that there is a second Blu-Ray disc with the majority of the content.

Day & Night (6:02/HD): Here we have the animated short film that played in cinemas before Toy Story 3. Showing two characters, one which sees the world during daylight, and the other that sees it at night time this is a fantastic little film which uses images and sounds to convey the message. Gorgeous.

Toys! (6:39/HD): This featurette is a series of interviews with the filmmakers in which they discuss the number and variety of toys within the movie.

Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure (4:25/HD): A rather entertaining little skit with the toys from the movie as well as actual footage from NASA and the ISS showing experiments in space.

We now move onto the second Blu-Ray disc which contains the bulk of the extras... The first part of these extras is the "Family Play" section...

The Gang's All Here (10:24/HD): Voice acting is key in any CG film and this featurette looks at all the returning cast, including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, as well as all the new cast for the new characters. It's a great look at this little seen side of film making.

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Toy Story 3's gripping ending...
Goodbye Andy (8:04/HD): Don't watch this if you haven't seen the movie yet as it look at the ending in length as well as the creation of human characters in CG movies.

Accidental Toymakers (3:59/HD): I very much enjoyed this featurette which looked at how all the toy manufacturers passed on making toys based on the Toy Story franchise, except one small company.

A Toy's Eye View: Creating A Whole New Land (5:29/HD): This featurette looks at putting the Toy Story franchise into the Disney theme parks around the world.

Epilogue (4:22/HD): Here you'll find the films epilogue which plays during the end credits in the movie.

The second part of the extras on Disc Two is for the "Film Fans"...

Cine-Explore (HD): Strangely this Picture-in-Picture commentary track is on the second disc meaning this disc has another encoding of the full feature film. Commentary is provided by director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson and the provide plenty of details regarding the films storyline and settings. While the commentary is taking place the video shows numerous images from the production, or people associated with it, including artwork, storyboards and early animatics.

Alternate Audio Commentary: This commentary includes supervising animator Bobby Podesta, production designer Bob Pauley, story supervisor Jason Katz, supervising animator Mike Venturini, and supervising technical director Guido Quaroni. It's a little more technical then the Cine-Explore commentary, and there is discussion about the scenes in detail, but it was a track which older movie watchers may enjoy. This track is encoded with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 320kbps.

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Some of the many new toys in Toy Story 3.
Roundin' Up A Western Opening (5:47/HD): In this featurette the filmmakers discuss the opening sequence and show an unused original opening sequence before moving into discussions about the version seen in the film.

Bonnie's Playtime: Story Roundtable (6:31/HD): This featurette focuses on the somewhat difficult sequence with the new character Bonnie playing with her toys and the number of changes that were made to the sequence during production.

Beginnings: Setting A Story In Motion (8:15/HD): Toy Story 3 screenplay writer Michael Arndt discusses writing a screenplay and how this applied to writing this movie with references to other Pixar movies. It's a decent piece which youngsters will enjoy in particular.

Life Of A Shot (7:00/HD): A very basis look at how much effort goes into making a single shot for a film like Toy Story 3. It give a good, albeit brief, look at the efforts required to make an animated film.

Making of Day & Knight (2:05/HD): This is an extremely brief promotional piece which looks at Pixar's latest animated short which is available for viewing on the first disc in this Blu-Ray set.

Paths to Pixar Editorial (4:40/HD): This featurette focuses on the editors and what their role is in the creation of a film.

Studio Stories: Where's Gordon?/Cereal Bar/Clean Start (7:03/HD): These three short stories detail some of the fun had around the Pixar offices during a films production.

The third part of the extras on Disc Two is the "Games And Activities"...

Toy Story Trivia Dash (HD): The only extra under this disc is a two player trivia game. Unfortunately it requires a number pad for entry so not user friendly on the PS3 Dual Shock controller. Besides that if you have a normal Blu-Ray remote, or PS3 Blu-Ray remote, the trivia is moderate in difficulty, although the game is short.

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Woody looking glum in Andy's bedroom.
The fourth and final section of the extras on Disc Two is the "Publicity"...

Rather then go list each item individually this section contains Gran Bag, Ken's Dating Tips, Lot-O'-Huggin Bear Commercial 1 & 2, Making of the Lots-o'-Huggin Bear Commercials, Internet Chat/Security Cam/Gadgets with the Security Cam one being particularly entertaining, Dancing with the Stars at Pixar, TS3 Silence Trailer, TS3 Antipiracy Trailer, TS3 Teaser Trailer, Trailer 2, Trailer 2, Japanese Teaser, Japan Trailer 2, Character Intros, and finally a Poster Gallery with 25 posters.

Toy Story 3 provides a perfect ending to Pixar's first, and still most loved, franchise. Not only is the story an emotional roller coaster - indeed even for grown men! - but the transfer to Blu-Ray is nigh on perfect. Throw in some decent extras and this is a release worthy of every Blu-Ray collection.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Walt Disney. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.