Toy Story 3 Review
Fifteen years after the original re-defined animation feature films as we know it, kick-starting an astonishing critical and commercial run for its studio, Toy Story 3 has arrived to allow us to spend one last time in the company of our old friends. It’s already broken Pixar’s previous opening weekend records in America, meaning that the score card now reads 11 for 11, so the only question remaining is whether it will have the same long-lasting effect as the previous two films. The answer to that is a resounding yes as Toy Story 3 is an absolutely magnificent film that will ensure the Toy Story series goes down in history as one of the finest film trilogies ever.
Just in case you’ve managed to avoid the extensive press coverage surrounding Pixar’s three-quel, it starts just as Andy is preparing to go to college leaving all of his loyal toys worrying about their future. After a mix-up, the gang are donated to Sunnyside nursery where, after an introductory tour led by Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, they are confident they’ll have a great time getting played with by the children every day. However, after Woody leaves to return to Andy, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems.
Needless to say, the animation is flawless and sequences such as the opening train chase, a figment of Andy’s youthful imagination, look absolutely stunning but it’s in the attention to detail that makes Pixar stand out from any other animation studio. Keeping in line with the original two movies, the toys in particular are realistic down to every last detail with perfect examples of this being new arrival Ken, whose every move is stilted much like the doll would be, and on old favourite Rex, where you can see the joints move in a rigid fashion.
The 3D serves to heighten the animation without the need for objects flying out of the screen; instead, much like with Up, it’s utilised to give a sense of depth and scale to the film whilst enhancing the tiny details, such as in Andy’s room where you can see car posters have been put up over the Buzz Lightyear poster from the original film. It makes the action sequences even more visually arresting than they would be in 2D but it’s used subtly to ensure that none of the thrills would be lost if you watched it in 2D.
As strong as the animation is, it’s the characters that make the Toy Story films come to life. As much as the new recruits impress especially Ken, whose penchant for new clothes results in one of the funniest montages ever, and Lots-O’, who manages to be devious but oddly sympathetic, it’s the old favourites who steal the show. Whether you’ve grown up with them or just discovering them for the first time, you’ll find it hard pushed to force back the tears in the film’s climactic scenes. Also similarly to Up, there’s a dark emotive side running through the film resulting in some subtle heartbreaking moments and an intense scene in the final reel that is scarier than most horror films manage.
However, this isn’t a film that is going to leave children scarred for life and there are plenty of light moments to off-set the darkness. The film’s central set piece brilliantly parodies almost every prison break committed to celluloid but also manages the fine balance of being able to stand on its own even if you don’t get the references. As ever with Pixar, there are also numerous in-jokes and references to other films – keep an eye out in particular for a familiar face re-appearing as a trash collector – that may take two or three viewings to notice but you’ll happily sit through it again just to spot them. Even times when it appears Pixar is re-treading old ground, such as when the three aliens’ obsession with “the claw” is re-visited, there’s enough inventiveness to make them fresh and leave you grinning along with your inner child.
It’s hard to see where Pixar can go from here as Toy Story 3 is the definition of a perfect film with not one minute of film footage wasted and no ideas falling flat. At times laugh-out-loud funny and at times genuinely scary, it has a strong emotional core that will resonate with everyone resulting in a fittingly poignant ending chapter. A Best Film Oscar nomination surely beckons and if there’s any justice in the world, the film would be up there amongst the favourites as it’s not just a superb animation film, it’s also a genuinely brilliant film in its own right. Toy Story might have revolutionised the animation genre in 1995 but Toy Story 3 might well have just closed the animation market as there’s no way anyone can do it better than this.