Review: Toy Story 3 (IMAX 3D)

Director: Lee Unkrich (Monster’s Inc., Finding Nemo)
Screenplay: Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Producer: Darla K. Anderson
Starring (voices): Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 103 min.


The summer movie going season of 2010 is finally starting to get back on track. Thanks mostly to Pixar’s newest, but oldest friend, the Toy Story franchise. Almost the entire crew is back (sans Jim Varney, God bless his soul) voicing the now staple characters of American pop culture and it’s as fun as always… even more so. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and 103 minutes will zip right by. A complete blast with wonder spanning the epic to the miniscule.

Andy is heading off to college and must decide what to do with all of his old toys. Buzz and Woody and the whole crew haven’t been played with for what seems like years and worry builds up that they’ll be forgotten and possibly even thrown out. Through a series of miscommunications and coincidence, they are mistakenly donated to a child day care facility where they meet all sorts of new toys. But things aren’t all as they seem and a plan is hatched to escape and make it back home to the one who needs them most: Andy.


Leave it to Pixar. They simply never fail. Ever. Though skeptics still wonder why this studio doesn’t put their talents to better use with new and original ideas, the one story that is fair to come back to is this one. Toy Story catapulted Pixar into the cinematic stratosphere and the sequel was arguably even a better adventure. So it makes sense to wrap up the story of this lovable group of friends with the trifecta; and wrap it up nicely they do.

As always with Pixar, the visuals are flawlessly gorgeous. Although in the case of Toy Story, care must be taken to not deviate too much from the look of the original; which was, although still way ahead of its time, put together fifteen years ago and obviously there have been a few leaps in technology since then. The creators here stuck with that slightly more “basic” look and only improved on a few details, textures and slightly more epic locations.

Surprisingly, the 3D aspect, should you choose to see it that way, is not distracting or gimmicky and is actually incorporated into the film quite well. By the end, I sort of forgot I was wearing the glasses and that there was any 3D going on at all. Which says a couple of things: one, if there’s any studio I want doing my 3D, it’s Pixar as they seem to work it in rather seamlessly. On the other hand, my second point would be that while it works well and isn’t distracting, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary or even adds all that much to the experience. There is deprivation to the color and the screen is noticeably dimmer than usual. So once again, even though the 3D here generally works, any positive facets are easily offset by the negative aspects that still plague the technology. And while a relatively short film, some may still experience fatigue, dizziness or head trauma.

This 3D fatigue may set in even earlier or more strongly than otherwise what with all of the moving “camera” techniques employed in some of the film’s fantastic action sequences. The direction is terrific here and the innovation of the story tellers to overcome obstacles that these toys face is nothing short of sheer brilliance. How does a five-inch toy scale an eight-foot wall? How does plastic dinosaur get through a locked door or Mr. Potato Head escape an enclosed space? Again, the ingenuity and innovation on display here is not only brilliant, but always exciting and more often than not, “flat” out funny.

The scare factor is a little surprising, though in this case very welcome. Nemo and Monsters, Inc. certainly have their moments with sharks or dark, scary closets but nothing compares to the phobias and frightening atmosphere put on display here. In my nearly sold out theater there was some crying and screaming from the little ones while I heard more than one exclamation of “creepy!” coming from older audience members. There was even a few heads buried into shoulders scattered throughout the screening room. If clowns, broken dolls, terror monkeys and generally foreboding locations are enough to make you squirm, be prepared as you enter this somewhat dark house of horrors.

What makes this film work on an emotional level for some of the more mature (physically anyway) audience members is its use of nostalgia for us to relate with. This nostalgia can be discussed in two ways. First, while most of the toys throughout this universe are made-up, generic characters, there is some use of more classical toys that many of us remember owning ourselves. From toddler, Fisher-Price toys to barrels of monkeys to a glow in the dark book worm to something as obvious as Ken and Barbie, it was fun to look around a playpen and declare, “Oh I had that! I had one of those! Remember that toy?” This was a small level of joy all on its own. Not to mention they’re used in pretty unique ways – watch for the roulette scene. But many of us can also remember what it was like to get older and not have a place to put our toys. We simply can’t throw them out for the emotional attachment but they can’t very well sit on our shelves at college or a new apartment either. So what to do? From a personal perspective, this note of the story hit close to home and I (and most people I believe) will be able to associate closely with this inner struggle.

So Pixar does it again. It’s a nearly flawless romp of action, adventure, laughs and tears. As cliché as it may sound, that’s exactly what it is and exactly why movies have captivated audiences for a hundred years. It does everything it sets out to do with pitch perfect precision and should have an audience applauding with it across the board. It ties up the series fantastically well for a whole new generation to appreciate. Of all the summer blockbusters to see this year, this is the one that will be most enduring and in all probability, the most entertaining – certainly for the family friendly crowd. Sit back, take it all in and bask in the enjoyment. It simply doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
David Brook
Guest

Awesome. Pity I have to wait another bloody month to see it!

As with the 3D fatigue thing, I think IMAX only amplifies it. I saw Avatar in that format and I thought my brain was going to explode after an hour and a half, but when I saw it later on a standard screen I just had a mild headache towards the end.

And I had similar feelings about 3D that you described after watching Up. I liked the fact that it didn't feel distracting and was subtly integrated, but then felt like if I don't notice it, what's the point? I change my mind every film I watch though in 3D, sometimes I'm all for it, sometimes I think it's a money-wringing gimmick (which it sort of is no matter which way you look at it).

But anyway, I don't really want to start a big 3D debate, because I'm getting tired of them, but I couldn't resist a few comments.

Matt Gamble
Guest

I hear more and more from projectionists and techs that 3D should never been seen in IMAX. For whatever reason it really seems to strain people's eyes far more than other presentations.

And to promote my own theatre, I've yet to have any problems watching 3D in a digital presentation. Though we have a lot of advantages that standard 35mm theatres (and other digital theatres) simply can't match. Plus now we just added 7.1 surround for Toy Story, adding yet another technological improvement to the presentation.

Jonathan
Admin

Wow… fantastic. What an astonishing way to end this trilogy. This could very well be the best Pixar film to date.

Kurt
Guest

I wouldn't call TS3 the best pixar film, but it is certainly one of the darkest. There are a lot of traditional 'horror' elements with the Sunnyside crew and garbage disposal moments. Rather daring to have all the toys at one point face (and seemingly accept) death. Yie, that was pretty strong stuff there for a "G" rated flick.

I don't think TS3 had as pure an emotional effect on me as Jesse's story did in TS2, that being said, it's a worthy entry and a very worthy conclusion to this Toy Trilogy of Pixars. Lets hope they have the good sense not to make a 4th movie. That was about as pitch perfect an ending for a franchise (See also, The Last Crusade) as there ever will be.

rot
Guest

after watching Up in 3D I just think it darkens the colours and Pixar is all about bright and shiny things. Haven't seen this yet, or anything for that matter.

rot
Guest

Also aren't all of the Toy Story movies kind of melancholy? It is a bizarre premise, the toys have to remain devoted to the child even though they are fully aware that the child will grow tired of them and can dispose of them at will. There is something slavish to their roles, they are passive serfs to the whims of a monarch but the moral of the story is you should stay devoted to this kind of hopeless path. In part 2 Woody chooses a couple more years of 'love' from Andy over an eternity being admired by kids and hanging out with friends. Autonomy, a sense of freedom to live a happy life is shunned in the storytelling here. You must conform to being a toy, reign in your imagination, your own emotional hang-ups and be that object. They derive meaning as objects yet possess subjective capacities, that is pretty sad.

rot
Guest

A.I. is essentially the same as Toy Story thematically.

rot
Guest

I haven't seen the third so maybe that is the case, but in 2 with the Cowgirl and her monarch, Emily, that was not the case.

rot
Guest

don't get me wrong, I really like the Toy Story films, but there is something that doesn't sit quite right in what they are saying.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

@Rot, "the toys have to remain devoted to the child even though they are fully aware that the child will grow tired of them and can dispose of them at will." One could make this arguement of bad modern parenting. Some parents cannot move on and stifle the child by never wanting to be empty nesters. These sorts of interesting flipsides is what makes Pixar's 'bright coloured confections' interesting! There are dark streaks (Woody can be a selfish bastard until he remembers that he is the good guy and the leader, this is an arc to a degree in all three films).

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I was talking to the kids in the car on the way home about Toy Story 3 (my daughter found Lotso Creepy, but was unfazed by the fuckin' terrifying CYMBOL MONKEY!) And I brought up A.I. (which they haven't seen) after they had so many questions about Toy Story 3, maybe I'll expose them to the full on horror experience of A.I. some day soon. The Flesh Fair, in particular in A.I. is not very different than the darker side of Sunnyside in TS3 or the Neighbors kid in TS1. I was also thinking for that Rankin/Bass Rudolph Animated film which has the Island of Lost Toys. Certainly a comparison could be made to A.I. even thought it will never be a perfect one. At least TS3 had the good sense to end it self in a decent fashion.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Toy Story *SPOILERS AHOY*

Furthermore, "Autonomy, a sense of freedom to live a happy life is shunned in the storytelling here. You must conform to being a toy, reign in your imagination, your own emotional hang-ups and be that object. They derive meaning as objects yet possess subjective capacities, that is pretty sad."

The third film is dark because it further underscores the slave and disposable mentality for the toys. Basically, hope for the best with the leader you were assigned too. If you are not lucky, you are abandoned and replaced (Lotso) or are mangled and blown up (The neighbors kids toys in the TS1), or are simply forgotten (Jesse in TS2). But what is interesting about TS3 is that it, like childhood, says that there is no going back, so you should enjoy the heck out of it while it lasts. Death, abandonment or the incinerator will eventually catch up to you. Life is finite, when you've got it good, be thankful. It's dark, but delightfully OLD TESTAMENT. Surprising to come from Pixar, but there you have it.

But in all fairness, the resolution of the daycare situation (Ken, Barbie, etc. etc.) refutes your argument for a lot of the characters, Rot, who do form a half-decently run autonomous society in Sunnyside. I think part of what the story is saying is that the main toys (Buzz, Woody, et al.) are very lucky to have such a good owner (master, slaver, benevolent deity – ANDY) and a definitive purpose in life. Perhaps Gamble and I should stop talking Chinese Imperialism in the new Karate Kid, and focus our energies on the Toy Story Franchise! It's not exactly 'Give me Freedom or Give me Death' but it is analogous to the child-parent relationship until they hit a certain age (herein defined, I guess, at 17). There are a few layers in what the toys are and what they could represent.

1. They are the children who have little understanding or say (and Andy is in effect The Parent/Dictator)

2. They are the parents holding onto the children who should have moved on by now (and Andy is in effect the Child that is Moving On…)

3. They are the toys and are indeed simply owned objects that have some 'fairy tale' autonomy for the sake of being a whimsical kids movie! (The Cigar is a Cigar theory)

Yea, #3 is not worth talking about though. If Pixar films are as good and high falutin' as people treat them, they can withstand some serious scrutiny and not be simply written off as popcorn flicks!

Parenting is a dictatorship for the first few years.

It's hard to let go of that dictatorship when the timing is right (There is a right time and place for everything.) but if you've done your job well, then you (as a parent) should be completely obsolete.

But still, hope for the best, appreciate what you've got. And deal with the punches as they come.

Just babbling here. Don't mind me.

rot
Guest

let's talk about parenting 🙂

the way I see it, the dictator is my kid, not me. He decides when I eat or sleep. I cannot wait for this kid to talk, for reason to be part of it. People always told me its hard to be a parent, but it really fucking is. And my kid isn't even all that unusually fussy, its just the repetition of days, the continual catch-up on sleep. Having a kid does change you, but not in the way I thought that statement meant, like you melt when you look into his eyes and understand the true meaning of Christmas… but rather it removes from you all available energy so that there is base survival, there is just family myopia, its all you can do to concentrate on. I always kind of thought it was a lifestyle choice or something, but its a by-product of exhaustion. Now whole forms of entertainment make sense to me, the dumbing down of society, the Palin politics, you only have a nanosecond to think about those things.

what they are talking about in Toy Story is not really love though. They package it as love, Woody loves Andy, Andy loves Woody, but its more master/slave relationship, what's the word, symbiotic. Politically it is monarchy, it is as Hobbesian as they come. Woody can't talk back, can't voice his opinion, he can only serve.

Jonathan
Admin

I find it really cool that the voice of Andy was the same person throughout all three movies – and he has never really done anything else.

<object width="560" height="340"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/nVnclIs-P8c&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/nVnclIs-P8c&hl=en_US&fs=1&&quot; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="560" height="340"></embed></object>

rot
Guest

Not a fan of the 3D in Toy Story 3, would have preferred to see it 2D. I found it drag a bit, not quite as comfortably on all cylinders as the first two. The ending works though and it doesn't feel like an unnecessary sequel, which is usually the case.

Kurt
Guest

This movie was excellent in 2D. I agree, not as impactful as the 2nd film, an extension of the themes, but it was pretty impressive on how they made the toys face both Obsolescence and Death (!) in a single film.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Just finally caught up with Toy Story 3 (in 2D), and yeah, great film. I don't know how Pixar is able to turn out such consistently great stuff while every other animation studio churns its wheels. Even when others do something really good (like How to Train Your Dragon) it still doesn't reach either the simple charm or underlying grown-up themes that Pixar can manage to weld together. I was astonished by how far Toy Story 3 goes down the dark path of fear and abandonment and death without shrinking from it or in some way winking to the audience that everything's really going to be okay. I mean, you know on some level that it is, but the incinerator scene was about as horrifying a scene as I've seen in quite a while.

Also LOVED Day and Night. It reminded me so much of the minimalist/experimental shorts that studios like UPA were doing in the late '50s and '60s – it's been a long time since I've seen animation that innovates like that in mainstream places. Great stuff.

David Brook
Admin

Agreed – it finally came out in the UK last week and I watched it as soon as I could. A brilliant film and possibly my favourite of the trilogy although I haven't revisited 1 or 2 for a while – I can just remember the song in the middle of 2 marring the experience a little. For me this was one of those films that got everything right and I couldn't find fault with it.

If they end the series here (which they really should), this will go down as one of the great movie trilogies. Its certainly one of the most consistently great ones I can think of.

wpDiscuz