Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Toy Story


Toy Story is the first ever feature-length computer animation in cinema history, and Pixar's feature film debut. Making over a 1200% profit at the box office and recieving universal acclaim from viewers and critics alike it led to two sequels (1999 and 2010), both of which outgrossed the original - Toy Story 3 grossing over $1 billion at the box office - and led to Pixar churning out numerous hit films - A Bug's Life (1998), Monsters, Inc (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004),  Ratatouille (2007), WALL-E (2008) and Up (2009), and one box-office hit but critical miss - Cars (2006) - with several more films being made right this second.

From the title you would initially assume that Toy Story is just a 'kid's film', but it genuinely isn't. It is far too beautifully animated, witty and intelligent for it to just appeal to a juvenile audience - there is more than enough to wow and entertain adults as well, it is that enjoyable an adventure. And I know many adults who were over twenty when Toy Story came out and love it.

So now for the plot...
Six-year-old Andy (John Morris) has no idea that his toys come to life when he is out of the room. Led by cowboy doll Woody (Tom Hanks), who has always been Andy's favourite, the toys, including Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles), Hamm the piggy bank (John Ratzenberger), Rex the dinosaur (Wallace Shawn) and Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), anxiously await to learn what new toys Andy is getting for his birthday. None of them expect the ultimate toy: Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), a space ranger action figure, complete with top-notch flashy gadgets. Woody soon realizes he must get Buzz out of the way in order to keep his role as Andy's favourite. However, his attempts go terribly wrong and the pair end up in awful danger. Stranded in the real world the rivals must learn to work together in order to get home.

The film has an interesting choice of antagonist in Andy's next-door neighbour, hyperactive Sid (Erik von Detten), a sadistic 13-year-old who takes great pleasure in torturing, mutilating and even blowing up toys. Sid is one very creepy kid and is the perfect representation of a child who has been neglected by his parents. Although it's very subtly hinted and you really need to think it through it seems that Sid has very little bond with his parents as he keeps himself to himself in his room, barely talks to his parents, and clearly they don't seem to notice what he's up to as he takes great pleasure in blowing up toys in the back yard. This shows he has a much different relationship with his parents than Andy with his - Andy is nurtured and loved by his mother (Laurie Metcalf).

The toys of the cast are very comical but serious/emotional moments are very prominent as well. Woody creates great poignancy as, stuck under a box in Sid's room, he tells Buzz to get out while he can and get back to Andy, which is completely different to the very amusing Woody in the first half who is becoming ever more jealous and worked up over Buzz. Buzz is constantly hilarious as he remains deluded that he is a real space ranger who has crash landed, but gets so depressed when he realizes he isn't that it really breaks one's heart. And of course the supporting toys are just as wonderful. The cynical Mr Potato Head and sharp-witted Hamm are a great comic duo, while Rex's attempts to become a 'scary' dinosaur are wonderfully hilarious. On the other hand Slinky really breaks the heart as the loyal dog gets more and more upset over being separated from Woody, and it wouldn't break the heart so much were it not for the expressions on his plastic face.

All the characters though are brought to glorious life by the voice cast. Then couple them with beautifully detailed, bright and vibrant computer animation that gives everything lovely, stunning detail and even the very background characters perfect characterization. Added with a lovely soundtrack that includes the memorable hit You've Got a Friend in Me, among numerous other contributing factors, and Toy Story more than deservedly became an instant classic, a milestone in cinema history and the most memorable of Pixar films. And John Lasseter also more than deservedly won a Special Achievement Oscar for creating the first feature-length computer animation.

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, John Morris, Erik von Detten, R. Lee Ermey, Laurie Metcalf, Sarah Freeman, Jeff Pidgeon, Joe Ranft.

Oscar: Special Achievement (John Lasseter).
Oscar nominations: Best Screenplay (John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Joe Ranft, Joss Whedon, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow), Best Original Score (Randy Newman), Best Original Song (You've Got a Friend in Me - Randy Newman).

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