on 26 September 2006
I caught the tail-end of Toy Story one Christmas time, a couple of years ago, and the next thing I knew, I was in Blockbusters, renting it. Browsing through the 'cartoon' section, I caught sight of "Toy Story 2", and thought 'oh, another trite Disney sequel', and dismissed it.
Well, six months later, I was in Blockbusters again, with a couple of friends, and one of them started waxing lyrical about it, insisting that we rent it, and, to my shock, everyone else backed her up. I couldn't really say no, could I? So I bought popcorn, and resigned myself to a torturous night of cringes and bad jokes.
It was amazing. A really wonderful movie - more than that, a really wonderful story, a story with jokes that make you laugh, characters you believe in, and a moral that doesn't slap you round the face and shout "Look at me! I'm here!".
The scene with Jessica, talking to Woody about 'her human', Emily, is particularly moving. I'm sure I'm not the only kid in the world who gave some of my older, less loved toys a dust-down and a bit of a hug after watching this film.
If you don't want to buy it, at least rent it, or borrow it off someone who has it. It's rare that a cartoon can simultaneously be forward thinking and an immediate classic, but these one does it with ease; it's so very much worth watching.
on 19 January 2005
There is a rumour that this was planned as a straight to video (DVD) release and it only secured a cinematic release when Pixar realised how good it was. It certainly was good enough.
A great story following the gang attempting to rescue Woody after a toy collector has kidnapped him (technically I guess he is stolen but it feels like a kidnapping). As in the first film the story works on a number of different levels successfully appealing to children and adults.
Once again the animation is fantastic and the vocal talents superb: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Kelsey and Joan Cusack are all excellent.
Things have calmed down in the world of Andy's room. Woody the cowboy doll (Tom Hanks) and space ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) have learned to get along and are in fact great friends. Even the addition of a puppy hasn't changed things much.
Andy is getting ready to go to cowboy camp for the weekend, and Woody can't wait. This is the highlight of the year because of the one on one time they spend together. Unfortunately, right before Andy leaves, he accidentally rips one of Woody's arms. Andy decides to leave a dejected Woody behind so nothing more happens to him.
The next morning, Woody is horrified to see Andy's mom is having a yard sale. Trying to rescue another toy, Woody accidentally gets discovered by Al, a greedy collector, and toy napped.
Seems Woody isn't any ordinary toy. He's a valuable collectible based on a popular TV show from the 50's. In Al's apartment, Woody meets the rest of the action figured based on his TV show and learns just how valuable he really is.
Buzz, meanwhile, is trying to track down his friend. He leads a rescue party that includes Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Rex the dinosaur, and Hamm the piggy bank. But will Woody want to be rescued if they find him?
This is a rarity in Hollywood, a sequel that is better then the original. While Toy Story entertains, Toy Story 2 surpasses it. There is a very simple reason for this, too. This movie takes the characters we love and builds on them while giving us a completely new story. Too many sequels feel like retreats of the original, but, while this movie has lots of nods to the original, it doesn't restrict itself to things we have already seen.
This is shown right from the start by showing that Woody and Buzz are still friends. While in the first movie, Andy had Buzz fighting Woody, now Andy has them teamed up to save Bo Peep. Once Woody is toy napped, which happens pretty quickly, the action leave Andy's room and only return for the final scene, a departure from the original.
Plus the story they tell is extremely entertaining. I don't know now many times I've seen the movie since it first came out, but I always get completely caught up in events just like the first time. The pace is quick and humor is plentiful, with several parodies of famous movies and jokes about American culture. They even find a way to bring back delusional Buzz, and he's still a riot. The story does take time to give us several tender moments as well. And, in the grand Pixar tradition, the climax just keeps going and going.
While story make be king with Pixar, character is queen. We care for these characters, which makes us invested in the story. The returning characters are still fully developed, but time is made to help us get to know the characters from Woody's TV show: Jessie the Cowgirl, Bullseye the horse, and Stinky Pete the prospector. Plus this movie introduces Barbie into the mix. While her scenes are short, they are some of my favorites.
Computer animation had really improved in the four years since the original. The humans look better, although they still aren't perfect. There are a couple shots that are truly amazing, however. The dust used in several scenes is great. The highlight is watching Woody get cleaned up. The attention to detail in that scene is amazing.
Pixar is also known for their great DVD releases, and the new two-disc set for this movie is another great example. The picture and sound, taken directly from their computer files, is absolutely outstanding. Most of the extras appeared in the three disc "Toy Box" set released years ago. There's a fascinating audio commentary, abandoned scenes, storyboards, and two behind the scenes documentaries, including a new one. For the kids, there's a "Which toy are you?" game. And of course, the outtakes are included as well.
This was Pixar's third film, but it is still one of my favorites. It's a great film that will appeal to kids of all age.
on 16 March 2010
This being an older Pixar release, I was a bit unsure about whether to order it. I feared it may be a DVD upscale or some other rehash - or that the source material simply wouldn't look as good over 10 years (and many other excellent Pixar films) later.
All these fears were unfounded. The transfer is quite simply excellent. There are one or two moments with a little digital noise (in bright areas) and some anti-aliasing issues but they really are very, very minor indeed. The textures are more plain in design and colour than later Pixar efforts but everything is rendered absolutely pin-sharp. The colours, though plain as I say, are very rich indeed. Some scenes show breathtaking detail and the whole feel is really appealing and very suited to the 'toy' setting and characters.
The sound is a Master Audio track. It's very powerful indeed, so much so that I lost the dialogue in some places. However this could have been because I was listening quietly. Overall the sound treatment is excellent. (Edit: The dialogue remains clear and intelligible throughout, it's just the sound effects are mixed quite high in places, it seems, so I had to turn it down for comfort reasons only.)
There are a few extras on the Blu-ray (I haven't checked the bundled DVD yet; it appears to duplicate the Blu-ray but with a bit less content). They are mainly short, funny - and rather odd - 'cartoons' about the production of Toy Story 2. They are charming enough. There doesn't appear to be a Pixar short in the package though, from my first quick glance at all the extras. There is an audio commentary though.
To sum up, if you like the film, don't be put off by the lack of reviews. I was initially but there was nothing to worry about. The transfer is great, the film doesn't show its age and does stand up very well even against recent Pixar masterpieces like the Up and WALL-E Blu-rays.
Very highly recommended!
(It also seems like it's a region-free Blu-ray too, judging by the A-B-C playable regions printed on the disc, though this is untested and unconfirmed.)
on 20 September 2005
coming up for a sequel for Toy story must have been difficult but this story is just as magic as the first, in fact even more so. For the first time Ham, Rex, and Slink leave Andy's room along with Buzz as woody has been stolen by a toy collector. they ned to act quick if they are to save him. All the characters are incredibly funny and deserve oscars for their performances.
If you are looking for a DVD for the kids this christmas then this is it, and even adults can enjoy it! Have a laugh and learn who woody really is.....
on 16 September 2000
Although this film is aimed at children. It packs a punch for the mature viewer with its 'tongue and cheek' approach which is so admirable. TOY STORY 2 deserves to become a classic along with it's predecessor. This is one of few sequels (along with THE GODFATHER PART II) which has such depth and originality.
The jokes in this sensational movie keep you laughing till bedtime. I remember resiting all the witty lines to my friends who had yet to see it.
The voices are first rate (a grade up from the original), Joan Cusack most notably. Kudos most also be given to the animated team who (still) make us marvel at such fantastic special-effects animation skills.
The mood is different from the original too. The whole set-up of the story felt different and there was one touchingly tender moment involving beautiful little Jessie (Joan Cusack).
I think this movie should be taken from the kids and watched late-at-night when they're all tucked in bed purely because this is deep, touching and often hysterically witty storytelling. Just don't tell the little rascals you've bought it!
on 23 September 2003
In this sequel to Toy Story, Woody (Tom Hanks) begins to fear that his usefulness as a toy is coming to end. When Woody is stolen, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) organizes a rescue. While our erstwhile heroes are seeking Woody out, Woody finds out the truth about himself; it seems that in the '50s he was the star of a hit show - Woody's Round-up. Given a choice between returning to his owner (and facing the end of his usefulness), or staying with the Round-up gang and living forever in a toy museum, Woody is torn. Simultaneously, the rescue team is facing peril after peril, culminating in the ultimate confrontation - Buzz Lightyear versus the evil Emperor Zurg! [Color, created in 1999, with a running time of 92 minutes.]
This movie is outstanding, and even better than the original! The darkness that shaded the original (Sid) is missing in this one, and the minor sadness is quickly replaced with adventure and hilarity. As an added bonus, the VHS includes the original Pixar cartoon Luxo Jr. and a set of outtakes (both originally seen in the theatre version), plus a video of the Riders in the Sky singing the Woody's Round-up Medley.
The movie is entertaining and lighthearted, the soundtrack is entertaining, and the action is spellbinding. This is a great movie for all ages. I can't recommend it enough.
on 11 December 2000
Toy Story 2 explores the simple (though intriguing) theme of the meaning of life for a toy! This was touched on in the first film but it is central to Toy Story 2.
The animation is excellent, and the film is commendable simply on this basis alone, but the characters are even better. The pace of the film is handled very well with never a dull moment.
Some may dismiss this as a film for children, but I think that would be a mistake. There's plenty there for children and adults alike. No need to get too deep and meaningful over this as it's just good wholesome family fun.
If you enjoyed the first film you will certainly enjoy this one!
TOY STORY 2 is the dazzling sequel to the 1995 blockbuster. Andy heads off to summer camp, leaving the toys behind to fend for themselves. In much the same way Buzz discovered he is a mass-produced product in the first instalment, Woody discovers that he is a valuable collectible spawned by a popular 1950s kiddie-puppet TV show, 'Woody's Roundup Gang' when he is kidnapped by an evil toy collector, Al McWhiggin. Through Al, who plans to sell him to a Japanese toy museum, Woody is reunited with the toy versions of his TV cohorts plucky cowgirl Jessie (Cusack), prospector Stinky Pete (Grammer), and trusty horse Bullseye. Woody must choose between seeing Andy grow up and forsake him and living a sterile but eternal life behind glass being admired but not played with.
on 7 January 2015
Extends the idea of reversing childhood frustrations with toys that do not do what they say on the wrapper and so only work well in one’s imagination.
Yet, this idea here is parodied because the toys still do not do what they “should”, they do something far more interesting - they actually come alive.
The characters are as brilliantly-realized and as vivid as before - especially the cowgirl (voiced by Joan CUSACK) and Rex (Wallace SHAWN) - despite the rather simplistic plotting.
This one tries to appeal more to adults who collect, rather than play with, toys. This has the effect of avoiding child characters; risking losing the child audience, yet while skillfully managing to avoid doing so. The toys here are shown out of their natural context - a child’s bedroom - and so have a life of their own; helping develop and deepen the characters and our relationship with them.
The running theme is an interesting tension between mass-produced toys and the individualism of the central characters, seen in the comparison and contrast between the Buzz Lightyear we know and love and the serried rows of identical Buzz Lightyears at the local toy store. This further emphasizes the superb character animation and voice work on show.
However, emphasis is also laid on the fact that this is a one-hit-wonder movie idea that cannot be developed dramatically. A lot of talk concerns a toy’s proper place being with kids and not in a museum, but little evidence that this is true is ever offered since most of the film is spent reconnecting with orphaned toys and their former owners.
What spoils these films for future generations is that the current immaturity of CGI means the humans look more toy-like than the toys. Yet, these are still the best computer-animated cartoons so far made.