Monday, 26 July 2010

TOY STORY 3 (2010) - 5 STARS

The Toys are back in town!"

In most circumstances with a film franchise, there are many who believe that a 'third' film in a franchise simply doesn't work e.g. THE GODFATHER PART III (1990), SHREK THE THIRD (2007), SPIDERMAN 3 (2007) but then there are the rare few 'third' films that have worked in cinema in the greatest retrospective including INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989), RETURN OF THE KING (2003) and yes even SCARY MOVIE 3 (2003) who have all succeeded with gaining popularity with critics and audiences. However when Pixar announced plans to make a third Toy Story film, there were some who doubted that they could pull it off. This came from the same uncertain people who thought that TOY STORY 2 (1999) wouldn't work either after the first one was such a colossal hit yet they were proved wrong by its charming story and its more poignant themes e.g. Jessie's story. However Pixar's gigantic movie-developing empire just doesn't seem like it will be stopping anytime soon after Toy Story 3's release last week and having dragged myself out of bed on Sunday morning to watch it with the family, it certainly was a riveting experience that alongside my viewings of the LORD OF THE RINGS films and THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) will never be forgotten. Toy Story 3 is a marvelous, emotionally-charged, hilarious and solid installment of film mastery by Pixar that once again excites audiences young and old to enjoy another epic adventure with Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang! When you first see the familiar Pixar logo of the live-action lampshade bouncing up and down on top of the letter 'I', the gentle warmth is acknowledged by us knowing that we are heading into familiar territory and that is demonstrated even further by the cracking opening action scene of the film where Woody (Tom Hanks) and Jessie (Joan Cusack) are trying to stop Mr and Mrs Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) from crashing a train into a quarry below and with the help of Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), they attempt to thwart the Potato couple leading to an epic showdown involving a giant Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky (Blake Clark) as an electric grid, Hamm (John Ratzenburger) as the dastardly pig in the sky and thousands of red stick monkeys. 

 Of course, the reality is that the toy's young owner Andy (John Morris) is playing with them with the usual toy battles that have been set up dramatically by Andy in his younger years. Then as expected, the upbeat Randy Newman music appears in yet another classic montage (another successful technique used in Pixar films) with several images showing the familiar faces being played with by Andy as the song "You've Got A Friend With Me" is used once again until it eventually drowns out abruptly just after the lyric "A friendship will never die", showing that times are about to change for the toys. Their owner Andy is now seventeen and is preparing to go to college, and finds himself in a predicament that so many young people heading towards their adult years have to go through when it comes to taking sacrifices with childhood memories and possessions. The storyline for all three Toy Story films does share similar plot lines in fearing the possibility of being discarded and unwanted when one turns old, or to obsess with the thought of being forgotten and unappreciated, and sometimes always comes with a distance to conquer. Over the years since the end of Toy Story 2, it is clear that many toys have had to be given up or being thrown away, including Wheezy, Sketch, The Green Army soldiers and quite surprisingly Bo Peep. However this had potentially been the difficult decision as well for the producers and writers of the film in order to introduce new characters that could become popular with young audiences hence the changes. Of course, the usual suspects have survived as well as the three-eyed alien triplets, Bullseye and Barbie (Jodi Benson who voiced Ariel in The Little Mermaid) and they all believe their time has come to be thrown out as garbage. Woody thinks otherwise though he is be taken to college with Andy leaving the other toys to be left in the attic. Andy's own sister Molly has even outgrown the toys while their pet dog Buster is too old and overweight to run anymore. However a mix-up involving Andy's mother sees the rest of the toys accidentally placed in the trash and although they get out they decide enough is enough and choose to be taken to the Sunnyside Daycare Centre where they hear that the young children there will play for them for a long time. Woody too hitches a ride with them to the centre where they are unveiled to the current ones situated in the place as "new toys"! 

They are greeted by the new toys who are led by the chief toy of the place Lotso (Ned Beatty) but Sunnyside Daycare Centre proves harder then expected for Buzz and the rest of the gang when the kids who roam the place are young but wild as they throw the toys around and leave them shaken. Things then become more sinister when it emerges that Lotso and the other chief toys are controlling of the place, turning Buzz against the others through fiddling with his batteries and having the other toys locked in baskets (representing prison cells). This is when the film turns into a cross between THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994), but nonetheless becomes an instant thrill-ride with Woody attempting to break the gang out of the place and attempt to reunite with Andy before he is due to leave, however there are obstacles on the way that become highly charged and effectively an emotional roller-coaster ride.

The final fifteen minutes prove that theory right and Pixar has always succeeded with beautifully emotional moments that can make a grown man cry such as Jessie's story in Toy Story 2, Wall-E's playback of the Hello Dolly romantic music in WALL-E (2008) and obviously the opening montage in UP (2009). However when the lives of those group of characters in the Toy Story films are placed in startling danger (no major spoilers here), we are placed on the edge of our seats by the possible consequences that are about to happen and whether they can survive, with a superb moment of friendship and togetherness being displayed through that particular moment. The final scene too, is emotionally tough especially for those who can't bring themselves to part with things they have cherished from their younger years but that adds to the realistic theme that Pixar has orchestrated since their first short back in the 1980's. To analyze the film in perspective, the story is truly entertaining and I really hope that many audiences young and old have enjoyed it. Normally reviewing voice acting isn't a major thing with more bigger film critics but again the use of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as well as the other voice actors again add emotion and strength about each other that they have clearly displayed over the past fifteen years. Ned Beatty as Lotso is a breath of fresh air with his gentlemanly manners but dark background while Timothy Dalton and Pixar favorite Bonnie Hunt also play their roles to perfection and even John Morris who played Andy in the other two films gives more compassion to him as a young adult who struggles to give up the possessions that have been part of his life. Michael Keaton however deserves a lot of credit for the way he settles into his character Ken, who despite his good looks is clearly presented as metro sexual and you can tell he enjoys playing him in an exaggerated and feminine way. Many funny moments dominate the film as well such as the clapping monkey, Mr Potato Head becoming a tortilla (reminding me of Peter Griffin having a stroke in Family Guy), the ending credits and of course, Spanish Buzz Lightyear! Plus the Big Baby doll is just too cute even if a little creepy!

If there is something wrong with the film, then it is only minor. The Lotso character though given a reasoning behind his sinister side and produces a couple of moments of pure evil but is almost too similar to Skinky Pete from Toy Story 2 with wanting independence of being a leader and even gets a familiar exit while there is a cool cameo from another Toy Story villain with Sid but in my opinion could have been made better e.g. him seeing the toys alive again. And there is the 3D side which really doesn't add much too the film's visual splendor and is spectacular to watch even as a 2D film on your I-POD (though something I haven't always agreed with). Aside those minuses however, the story-arc is mesmerizing and action-driven and the climax is a perfect way to end the Toy Story trilogy which has entertained us with memorable moments and delightful characters which will carry on for many generations to come. A magnificent trilogy which has been a journey to infinite and beyond!


At 30 July 2010 at 12:44 , Anonymous Phil said...

a great review

keep it up craig :)


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