Posted on 15 October 2009.
As a kid, McDonalds pretty much has you pegged. When not involved in some sort of movie tie-in, their Happy Meal toys were always separated by gender. Hot Wheels were for boys, girls were given some sort of Barbie-related item, and as a child, you’re good with that. I wasn’t entirely obsessed with Hot Wheels or cars in general, but when recollecting playing with small plastic/metallic objects in a fantasyland, they spring to mind. Back then, it was always competition that drove me, so naturally I pitted the toy vehicles I owned in a head-to-head match for top-line speed. I propped up a flat board on a steep incline and held two vehicles at the top, releasing both at the same time in a single-elimination tournament, bracket style. However, I always favored one slightly over the other. It was the Batmobile I’d give it an unfair advantage. It dominated these tournaments. That favoritism resides throughout life. You have a favorite movie, a favorite book, a favorite child (you know you do). In Toy Story, that favorite toy for Andy was Woody, until Buzz Lightyear came along.
That’s what started it all for Pixar, a company born out of John Lasseter’s desire to use computers to help the process of animation. After finally securing financing from a technical visionary in Steve Jobs and producing a few short films, Toy Story was released in 1995, blending a heart-warming story to match the limitations their technology possessed. It was the first computer-animated feature of all-time, which certainly didn’t hurt its chances at success, but without an effective story, it could possibly have buried the medium forever. Story is what Pixar thrives on and remains as the reason they’re at the top of the hill, peering down at their competition.
It seems fruitless to me to describe the plot or even critique either Toy Story or Toy Story 2. I’m sure most have seen the films multiple times and if not, still have a darn good idea about what they’re about and where critical consensus falls on either. The only thing I’ll say on those terms is Jessie’s song, “When She Loved Me,” always bothered me in Toy Story 2. I recognized it was a beautiful song, but was always upset at the filmmakers for choking me up in an adventure I hoped to enjoy from beginning to end. It still plays as sadly devastating as before, but I’ve since realized I wouldn’t want to do without it.
Instead of purely priming audiences for the June 18, 2010 release of Toy Story 3 with a couple of re-releases, Disney has at least been courteous enough to offer editions of the films remastered in 3D. That’s the way the industry is heading right now, certainly for computer animation, so it was a nice treat to see a couple of beloved Pixar classics infused with a hint of modern technology, or so I hoped.
Do those glasses actually protect or hurt your eyes?
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger Pixar honk than I, so it comes with great sorrow that I have to associate any negative criticism with the studio. It isn’t the films or the re-release that mars what’s come before, but does the 3D really add? I don’t think so. The films weren’t designed to be in 3D in the first place, so it’s almost like colorization in an additional dimension, but after being primed for a new version of 3D without paper red and blue cellophane optics, I remain underwhelmed.
There are a few times the third dimension offers visuals I could at least deem “inspiring,” and to be fair the first few minutes of Toy Story 2, which appear to possess great 3D potential was ruined by a faulty projector/projectionist at the showing I attended, but overall it seemed to add little. The most mesmerizing part of the process is during dissolving scene transitions, which truly offer a depth to the image. I don’t tend to blame the problem on this re-release specifically, but more on the 3D fad in general.
The only 3D film I’ve truly been amazed with so far was Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf. Unfortunately, it was the type of film that I didn’t feel I’d need to see again at home once reverted back to standard 2D. Bolt, Monsters vs. Aliens and Up have all offered less than hoped for in my eyes in terms of 3D adding anything to the movie-going experience. With this release, I feel I’ll finally be siding with Roger Ebert regarding recommending audiences just opt for the 2D version instead. You’ll save money and be treated to a brighter saturation of colors.
I wouldn’t write the process off just yet, as I’m still willing to let James Cameron’s Avatar and Joe Dante’s The Hole (which won the Venice Film Festival prize for Best 3D Film over all other previous released films this year I’ve mentioned, but still hasn’t found a U.S. distributor as far as I know) persuade me. It’s just that the hope and enthusiasm I’ve maintained for the past couple of years is starting to dim.
It might also seem fruitless to be reading this the day the two-film re-release was supposed to end, but it has been announced the duo will stick around theaters for a bit longer, as long as it continues to haul in some cash at the box office. The whole purpose of this “3D Review” was more about letting you all know that if you’re planning on seeing it, it may not be worth your time and money and if you weren’t anyway, you have no reason to feel left out. Unless, of course, you just want to see the Toy Story 3 trailer in 3D, then by all means, go buy a ticket.