Toy Story 2 (1999) - Special Edition - Blu-ray Packaging [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Adventure / Animation / Comedy / Family|
|Disney || G - 88 minutes - $39.99 || March 23, 2010|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-03-31|
Writer(s): John Lasseter & Pete Docter & Ash Brannon and Andrew Stanton (story), Andrew Stanton & Rita Hsiao & Doug Chamberlin and Chris Webb (screenplay)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger
Theatrical Release Date: November 24, 1999
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Rarely do sequels surpass or even come close to the original, in fact I can only think of a few instances of it happening: The Godfather Part II, The Dark Knight and Pulse 2 immediately come to mind (ok, scratch that last one). In 1999 Toy Story 2 did just that, taking on the original Toy Story and giving audiences an equally compelling and heartfelt story.
The plot this time around involves Woody (TOM HANKS) being left behind from a cowboy camp Andy goes to every year after his arm gets torn. When he valiantly rescues Wheezy the Penguin from being placed in a yard sale, Woody is trapped outside and discovered by a money-hungry scoundrel named Al the Toy Collector (WAYNE KNIGHT). You see, Woody was a big star back in the 1950s alongside Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (JOAN CUSACK) and Stinky Pete the Prospector (KELSEY GRAMMER), as well as Bullseye, his trust steed. Together, the dolls are worth a bundle but only with Woody, otherwise the others must go back into a box and storage locker which Jessie has no desire to despite Woodys protests and escape attempts.
Meanwhile, Space Commander Buzz Lightyear (TIM ALLEN) leads an expedition including Mr. Potato Head (DON RICKLES), Slinky the Dog (the late JIM VARNEY), Rex the Green Dinosaur (WALLACE SHAWN) and Hamm the Piggy Bank (JOHN RATZENBERGER). They make their way through the big city finally finding Woodys location but it appears he wants to stay so not to break up the Woodys Roundup gang.
The plot isnt all too complicated and on the surface doesnt seem like much, but the heart behind it makes it so great and probably far and away better than the original. The part Ive always remembered from Toy Story 2 is Jessies heartbreaking story, a song describing her life with her owner from childhood to teenage years and beyond. I can say it did not make me cry as it may have done in the past, but its still had more emotion than so many live action features do.
Beyond the plot, you once again have some picture-perfect voice casting. Obviously Tom Hanks and Tim Allen already have the animated friendship chemistry going full force and you also add in the other returning actors but the inclusion of Joan Cusack and Kelsey Grammer was nothing but brilliant as each brought a uniqueness to their roles. And of course, neither Cusack nor Grammer are exactly A-list actors and Pixar cast based upon their voices rather than star power. Personally, an animated picture will live or die based on the story and animation style, not whether Will Smith or Angelina Jolie are the lead voice actors.
Overall, Toy Story 2 measures up and even exceeds the original which was already great to begin with. The story, by a collective group including Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter, actually is better developed than TS1 while the animation itself also seems smoother and more refined.
The Toy Story 2 release comes with a slick slip cover and inside a code to get a free ticket to see Toy Story 3.
Audio Commentary features Director John Lasseter, Co-Directors Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon and Co-Writer Andrew Stanton. Like the track for TS1, the participants are, no pun intended, fairly animated describing where the ideas for the stories came from, new voice casting and other bits of movie-making trivia.
[NEW] Toy Story 2 Sneak Peek: The Characters (4:01; HD) covers all the characters and voice actors returning for this third installment plus the new toys making their debuts including Ken voiced by Michael Keaton.
[NEW] Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: International Space Station (3:45; HD) is another featurette kids will enjoy learning about the space station and space suits narrated by Buzz, Rex and Hamm. It is kind of funny that they had a Buzz Lightyear toy in space with the astronauts.
[NEW] Paths to Pixar: Technical Artists (4:24; HD) This featurette introduces us to a few of the other artists who work for Pixar as they explain where their love for their job came from.
[NEW] Next on this list we get another 3 Studio Stories to go along with the previous three that came with TS1. First up is Toy Story 2 Sleep Deprivation Lab (1:27; HD) followed by Pinocchio (2:16; HD) and lastly, The Movie Vanished (2:34; HD). These are crudely animated shorts with someone at Pixar narrated on what happened during the making of the movie. This is pretty funny and interesting way to present these stories.
[NEW] Pixars Zoetrope (2:00; HD) is a cool featurette seeing the zoetrope Pixar used to help them animated their movies.
[NEW] Celebrating Our Friend Joe Ranft (12:47; HD) is a nice featurette honoring Ranft, who was killed in a car accident in 2005, from his friends and co-workers. Its a sad but bittersweet look at a guy who seemed genuinely nice hearing from those who knew him.
Making Toy Story 2 (8:11; SD) This is a fairly mundane making-of featurette though I always enjoy seeing the recording sessions with the cast, and this offers some snippets of Tim Allen and Tom Hanks working together.
John Lasseter Profile (3:03: SD) takes a look at the Toy Story 1 & 2 director who has contributed so much to the Pixar studio. Members of the cast and crew offer up their praise for the man who basically built Pixar, someone even compared him to Walt Disney, something that isnt exactly unfounded IMO.
Cast of Characters (3:30; SD) goes through the characters in the Toy Story movies from Tom Hanks and Tim Allen (and the other returning actors) to the new characters voiced by Joan Allen and Kelsey Grammer.
Within the Toy Box we get some Outtakes (5:43; SD) that originally appeared during the end credits (so also in HD), Jessies Gag (1:10; SD) which was originally an Easter Egg on the DVD, Whos the Coolest Toy? (3:18; SD) is from the perspective of the cast and crew, Riders in the Sky Music Melody (3:10; SD) used for the Woodys Roundup theme, and Autographed Pictures (0:44; SD) of the characters. Alrighty then...
Next up are just two ordinary deleted scenes (4:11; SD): Godzilla Rex and Crossing the Road. This also includes an intro explaining why they were scrapped.
In the Design (TRT 16:43; SD) subset we get some Galleries of Woody, Buzz, Andys Toys, Misc. Toys, Zurg, etc. but nothing really fascinating here, just a bunch of concepts for the various characters set against the movies score. Theres also several 3D Visualization sets from the characters to locations; and another set for Color.
Under Production (TRT 13:41; SD) there is Designing Woodys Past (2:50), Making Woodys Roundup (2:00), a Production Tour (2:31), Early Animation Tests (3:03), Special Effects (1:38) and an International Scene (1:47) which was alluded to in the commentary. Each of these short featurettes is fairly informative and fills in the gaps not covered in other features.
Music & Sound (TRT 14:08; SD) includes Designing Sound (5:39) takes a look at how the sound design was done (like the dog barking), Making the Songs (3:25) taking a look at how the songs were written including the two videos included, Woodys Roundup Music Video (2:17) and Jessies Song Randy Newman Demo (2:50).
With Publicity (TRT 8:32; SD) we, of course, get Character Interviews (2:05), Trailers (3:24), TV Spots (2:12), Posters (0:51) and Baseball Woody (0:19) which has Woody throwing out a pitch. I have no idea what this was used for, however.
And lastly the set also has a BD-Live (** Blu-Ray Exclusive **) portal, a DVD Copy and some previews for other Disney titles including Toy Story 3.
Whats missing from the Ultimate Toy Box (this goes for Toy Story 1 & 2)? Not a whole lot, actually, but the animated short and inspiration for the movie Tin Toy, Short Film Luxo Jr., a 5.1 Sound Effects-Only Track, Production Notes and I think Cast Notes. There might be a couple more, but I think that about does it.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Amazing is the word for both the audio and video, simply put. First, the video is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio (originally 1.77 on DVD) and now in 1080p high-definition. The picture is pristine: clean, free of the standard flaws but thats expected from an animated feature but whats sometimes overlooked is the actual image and how crystal clear it is while still providing plenty of details like the color palette and sharpness of the characters who have the plastic look as intended.
Meanwhile, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is nothing to sneeze at either. Everything from the dialogue to sound effects comes across each channel with amazing clarity. For instance, when the toys are crossing the street to get to Als Big Toy Barn, the traffic noise as cars and trucks collide with one another has great depth that you sometimes dont even hear with live action films. Along with the more noticeable traits, we also get some of the more subtle elements such as echoes inside an elevator shaft.
This Toy Story 2 Blu-ray is something else. A fantastic movie with incredible audio and video presentations yet the special features hold it back from becoming one of the best Blu-rays released on the whole. If, however, features are not your thing, then this is a no-brainer and even so, its still a must-have for anyones high-def collection (or potential collection since it also includes the DVD).