I've been a proud owner of the original '10th Anniversary Edition' DVD of Toy Story for some time, but had been contemplating whether a purchase of this new Special Edition was actually worth while or, indeed, necessary. These CGI romps from Pixar tend to have less resell value given that they don't require meticulous restoring like traditional animations, yet aside from an obvious love for the film, a few of other thoughts helped my choice.
(1) All of the latest Disney/Pixar 'classics' are now available in Blu-Ray + DVD combo-packs. In some respects, this is almost like getting the DVD free as the current RRP's don't increase significantly from any other standalone Blu-Ray film you might get, which makes these combo-packs excellent value.
(2) The included DVD can be lent to family and friends while you indulge yourself in the benefits of Blu-Ray, along with your cheeky grin. You could even take this DVD out to other locations if you didn't want to damage your Blu-Ray disc, or if you're clever enough, rip it to your computers Hard Drive as an .MP4 and copy it to any number of digital media players.
(3) All new Disney DVD's/Blu-Rays come with 'Disney Movie Reward' points - a code that is printed on a little slip of paper in the case. Trust me, it doesn't take long to build these up and get a nice free product in return for all your purchases! Quite right too, Disney.
The trailers have finally been refreshed slightly, too. 'Dumbo' has been dropped, as that has obviously already been released (see 'Dumbo' review) The full 'Toy Story 3' trailer is up, which shows content from the final movie (which, I must say, looks fabulous!). You can also access more trailers from the main menu and, surprise surprise, 'Fantasia' is finally previewed, though we only get a cut-down version of the trailer while the U.S get the full version. As usual, they must be more special in some way...
Get on with it Tom - What about the film? Well, all I can say is hang your head in shame if you've never seen Toy Story. In many respects, this film could be comparable to the importance of 'Snow White' - it was, after all, 'only' the first full-length computer animated film, making me question even more why it doesn't have a 'Diamond Edition' status. The film is a tale that reflects the secret lives of a group of toys living in Andy's bedroom, who un-beknowingly to the young boy, come to life when humans aren't around. So then, what is a toys worst nightmare? Special occasions! Or in this films case, Andy's Birthday party. This is an Operation for the Bucket-Of-Soliders, who plan to send back to Andy's room detailed information on what new toys Andy has received, hoping they won't be 'replaced' by a superior product. But as it happens, Andy's favourite Cowboy doll 'Woody' (Tom Hanks) is in for a shock as the latest 'Buzz Lightyear' action figure (Tim Allen), in all his gadget laiden glory, makes a confusing entrance to the world of the toys...
As an owner of the previous DVD, I can base my comparisons on this very product, though I should make it known that because this film was obviously computer generated, the resulting film is essentially the same to the eye. The Special Edition DVD included in this pack looks exactly the same to the 10th Anniversary Edition, but I wouldn't suggest that I've lost out - the DVD comes free after all.
But when it comes to the Blu-Ray, we begin to see a vast array of changes that makes this one of the most impressive High Definition titles I've experienced to date, surpassing all my expectations.
The most obvious enhancement is that the colour timing provides a far more vivid picture - one genuinely killer attribute of Blu-Ray technology. The second difference is the clarity, which provides a pixel-perfect reproduction of every texture within the film. Without wanting to sound dramatic (it happens...), this is sensational viewing after long, lost memories of the original Theatre release.
The increase in definition has an interesting side-effect though, as the viewer can note how much simpler the computer rendering is compared to the modern efforts of Pixar, such as 'UP'. Many textures in particular environments lack a bit of depth, such as the wood 'grain' on Sid's workbench. Yet in the very same scene, the effect of the water droplets from the rain sliding down his window is just beautiful from a film of this age.
Its a shame to have to come to it, but the product is flawed when it comes to Extra Features. Disney-Pixar have a had a chance to refresh their documentaries and bonus material, yet the final outcome is disappointing. Despite a separate category for 'Classic DVD' features, the new HD content lacks any real information about the creation of the film, and is instead geared towards silly graphics and short stories. It's quite obvious that with the arrival of Toy Story 3 this summer, Disney-Pixar have decided to use this release as a means to promote the film even further, with the very first 'documentary' on the list being a 'Sneak Preview' of Toy Story. Thats not why I bought this product...
In short however, there really is no better time to buy this film than now. The combo-pack is a great deal if you don't have a Blu-Ray player, given that for the extra two or three quid, you are essentially being prepared for the future, should you decide to invest in HD technology (which is constantly becoming cheaper). The film itself is an outright classic and truly deserves more acclaim than the 'Extras' care to provide.
Like Toy Story? Check out the sequel - a rarity in that it manages to live up to the original!