The story goes that this was originally slated for a direct-to-video/DVD release, but once the movie started to come together Pixar realised that it was a much more worthy sequel to their classic than most Disney ones, and it got revamped into a full cinema release. They weren’t wrong, because, in many respects, this is one of the few second helpings that is as satisfying as the first.
In the original story, the overarching theme was the fear that all toys have that they’ll be lost or forgotten, which as children get older is an increasingly likely scenario. The second outing for Woody, Buzz and the gang expands further on that notion when they encounter Jessie, the yodelling cowgirl, Stinky Pete, the prospector and Bullseye, the horse, after Woody is stolen by unscrupulous Al, the toy collector. These characters are all part of a set of toys for the Woody’s Roundup TV show for which Woody was originated. In the end, he’s forced to make a choice between his family in Andy’s room, and the new one he’s rediscovered.
But, that’s selling the narrative short, because what happens between the start of the movie and that point is quite complicated, as Buzz leads the other toys in an attempt to rescue Woody from the evil clutches of Al. Each of the original characters gets some well earned screen time, and we get to meet some new characters along the way.
I especially loved them meeting Tour Guide Barbie at Al’s Toy Barn, who then takes them around the store describing everything in there in her typically stilted fashion. There is also a wonderful parody of Empire Strikes Back in the eventual revelation that Buzz’s father is indeed Zurg! It’s packed with wonderful sight gags, snappy dialogue and jokes that work on multiple levels. The number of movies that are as entertaining to adults as youngsters is a short list, but this is one of them.
If Toy Story made a cinematic historical landmark, then the second movie glued the plaque in place.
In many respects the Blu-ray of Toy Story 2 emulates the content and style of the first film’s disc, which, in some respects is good, and in others is pretty abysmal.
As with most CGI movies, the transfer to Blu-ray is excellent, with eye-popping colours and hardly a hint of artefacts. But then, I’d expect no less. For those wanting to experience this at its very best I’d check out any scenes with Jesse and her amazing red platted hair, it’s stunning. The advancements Pixar made in their 3D rendering software are very clear to see. The movie is a major step forward in the complexity of objects and the subtle use of lighting.
The sound is also wonderfully crisp, rendered as it is in DTS-HD, and a commentary track that, if you’ve got the DVD, you’ve probably already heard.
If all you’re looking for is a fantastic copy of this movie then it doesn’t get any better than this, and there’s not likely to ever be a big improvement on this.
However, the extras on here are just as disappointing as those on the Toy Story disc. The bonus features total about 33 minutes, most of which are simple animations played over recorded recollections of Pixar employees. The best of these is a salute to Joe Ranft, an influential story supervisor who passed away during the making of Cars. This lasts more than a third of that total running time but, sadly, isn’t in HD. What slightly surprised me about this is that they included Joe Ranft, but entirely ignored Jim Varney (Slinky Dog) when this movie was his last professional engagement.
They did include all the DVD extras, which are in SD quality but they do run longer than the HD extras. I do wish Pixar would have tried to do something special like the Disney Sleeping Beauty Blu-ray, but I assume they’re keeping that material for a 20th anniversary release perhaps.
Like the Toy Story disc, as an animator I can’t help but feel slightly short-changed here, but I guess I’ll have to be content with having such a great movie in stunning quality.
Toy Story 2 Combi Pack (Blu-ray and DVD) is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.