[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=3753&w=l[/img]Title: Toy Story 1 &2
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, John Morris, Erik von Detten
Directed by: John Lasseter, Ash Brannon (Toy Story 2)
Written by: John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft, Ash Brannon (Toy Story 2)
Runtime: 74 min , 92 min
Release Date: 3/23/2010 (Blu-Ray)
In Pixar’s first feature film a normal boy named Andy loves to play with his toys in his room. Of all his toys Andy loves none more than Woody, a cowboy doll with a pullstring. What Andy doesn’t know is that when he’s no longer in his room, his toys come to life. The toys have their own social structure and leadership, where the favorite Woody is in charge. They meet regularly and discuss their plans and look out for one another – so it’s big news when Andy’s birthday party rolls around. A squad of plastic army men is dispatched by Woody to keep an eye on the party and announce any new toys.
The party is uneventful for the most part with no new toys until the very end – when Andy’s mother gives him a surprise present. Andy’s present is the latest and greatest toy available – an action figure of TV spaceman and hero Buzz Lightyear. Buzz is instantly Andy’s new favorite toy and is brought upstairs to sit on the bed in Woody’s former place of honor. Buzz awakens oblivious to the fact that he is a toy – convinced the other toys are aliens and that his mission to destroy the evil emperor Zurg is still in progress.
Woody’s jealousy soon flares as he sees Buzz begin to fit in with the other toys, despite his belief that he is simply stranded on a strange planet. When Woody sees a chance to knock Buzz out the window he takes it but in the process gets himself knocked out the window as well. The two end up following Andy and his mother to the local Pizza place and get captured by the neighborhood nightmare Sid, who mutilates toys for fun. Woody and Buzz must learn to overcome their differences if they hope to survive and get back to Andy.
Toy Story 2:
The film opens to Andy preparing to leave for cowboy camp. Before he leaves Andy wants to play with Woody one last time – but in the process ends up tearing Woody’s arm and has to leave him behind on the shelf. Through a series of misadventures Woody ends up on a yard sale table and is stolen by a greedy toy collector named Al.
Unbeknownst to Woody, he is a valuable collectable doll and the final piece in Al’s plan to sell the entire “Woody’s Roundup” gang of toys to a Japanese museum. Woody meets three other toys that are part of his gang, Jessie the cowgirl, Stinky Pete the prospector and Bullseye, Woody’s trusty toy steed.
When they discover Woody is missing, Buzz, Slinky, Mr. Potatohead, Rex and Hamm decide to enact a crazy rescue plan and save woody from being sold into a museum case. The toys on both sides have plenty of misadventures as they race against time to save Woody and get back before Andy returns from camp.
Despite the age of these films – 11 and 15 years at the time of my writing this – they come to Blu-Ray looking extremely good. Pixar has not only re-rendered the films – they have also used new techniques to insert reflections and point light sources that were not in the original releases. The original issues with the films including unrealistic human motion are still present – but everything about these releases looks an order of magnitude better than they have in the past.
Toy Story comes to Blu-Ray in an AVC endoded 1080p format with an average bitrate of 23.5 mbps. Toy Story 2 comes to Blu-Ray in a 1080p AVC endode with an average bitrate of 24.35 mbps. These are impressive transfers with vibrant color palettes and superb depth of field. With the added benefit of new rendering technologies these do not look like dated films in any but a handful of scenes. The trees on the side of the road as Andy is taken to the pizza place are most definitely outdated – but beyond this minor gripe it’s hard to believe that these are 10+ years old.
Since Toy Story and Toy Story 2 were produced and rendered entirely in the digital domain it should come as no surprise that we have no DNR or grain issues to be concerned with. What we do have are perfectly faithful transfers of the films as it was recently re-released into theaters complete with beautifully re-rendered lighting, reflection and shadow effects. In Toy Story the lack of detail in certain shots may detract from the overall experience slightly but this film still comes extremely close to attaining reference video quality. Toy Story 2 benefits from four years of technology advancements resulting in greater detail and enhanced textures and is truly a reference quality disc.
Toy Story features a 4.4 mbps DTS-MA HD lossless audio track that yet again does not disappoint. The film features an almost breathless use of the surround channels that truly increases immersion. The perfectly matched interplay between the dialogue of the center channel and the rich multi-faceted sound coming from the other channels keeps the audio mix interesting and lends the film an impressive theatrical realism. The LFE track is never overpowering but very well balanced for the individual scenes in the film. Overall this is a reference quality audio mix that will not disappoint – if you are a bass head you may find the title a little lacking – this is not due to poorly reproduced LFE but rather less LFE scenes in the film as a whole, Toy Story 2 may be more up your alley.
Toy Story 2 features a 4.0 mbps DTS-MA HD lossless audio track that sounds just as good as its predecessor with one added benefit - BASS. Toy Story 2 has plenty of deep, refined bass that will make all the bass heads out there grin.
The LFE track in this film takes all the shortcomings of Toy Story’s LFE track, makes up for them and then some. Prodigious amounts of clean, deep bass are present at different times throughout the film and they lend it a real heft that elicits memories of Kung-Fu Panda and Wall-E.
Most of the same features that were present on the 10th anniversary DVDs of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are present on the Blu-Ray release. There are several new HD extras however most of them are “Studio Stores” which are nothing more than high definition stick figures paired with narration. If you were hoping to get an impressive new list of HD extras, you will be disappointed; if you were looking for the same great extras as before with just a little thrown in you should be quite satisfied.
Toy Story 2
As a self-admitted Pixar fan I was extremely happy to find out that Toy Story and Toy Story 2 were being re-released on Blu-Ray. Despite their ages of 11 and 15 years Toy Story 1 and 2 have been beautifully re-rendered and released to Blu-Ray with a reference quality video and audio transfer worthy of even the most critical owner’s library. All our favorite toys are alive and well and finally in high-definition along with a capable set of features and extras.
In sum, whether you’re crazy about picture quality, audio quality or both – these films deliver. The classic comedy and writing remain unchanged and remains a pleasure to both view and own.