Toy Story 3
So it wasn't a surprise when they announced a third Toy Story now was it? No surprise either that the studio decided to drop it into 3D either, after all this is the age of the third dimension especially in the last in a trilogy, it's a marketing executives dream.
Yet I didn't hold out a lot of hope, after all the second film wasn't as strong and the big selling point of this one seemed to be the 3D aspect. Then the initial talk of the plot sounded like it was all too close to what we'd seen before.
How wrong I was. For Toy Story 3 is not only the best in the trilogy, but could well be a very fitting end to the franchise, or a perfect new beginning. Quite simply, it's marvellous.
Andy decides to put the toys in the attic, something that the toys are quite happy with, spending the rest of their days in the attic with the old television, the race track, and each other. Except Andy gets nostalgic and decides to take Woody to college with him.
Things don't go smoothly though, and the bag containing the toys for the attic gets mixed up with the trash and Woody heads out to rescue them. However this is only the start of their journey. The other toys think they were going to be abandoned, so when they escape and see a box in the car marked Sunnydale Day Care, they leap inside and head off to be donated.
However Sunnydale doesn't turn out to be so sunny, and before long they realise that they are trapped there. The gang have to pull together to organise their greatest escape ever, and get back to Andy one last time.
Before we get to the film, there's the usual Pixar animated short to warm up the audience, and this time they've done something rather different, something way more imaginative. While before the shorts have concentrated on characters, this time they've taken a slightly abstract concept and made a very charming story out of it that carries a wonderful moral message.
What's also good is that the message isn't delivered like a brick, something Disney are all too guilty of doing. It's not unpalatable nor is it presented in a belittling, slap in the face way like Wall-E (Filmstalker review) delivered its message. No, here Pixar are at their very best.
It marries an old school cartoon styling with Pixar's wonderful imagination and it produces something that's maybe not quite on the same par as their best shorts, but certainly is showing that they have some way more imaginative stories still to come.
The first thing I'm going to talk about is the very slight negative, the 3D. Now I say it's a very slight negative because it doesn't really harm the film, there just seems to be no need for it, no need at all. I watched the film and I kept forgetting all about the 3D aspect, now don't get me wrong I don't mean forgetting I was wearing glasses and being immersed in the three dimensional aspect of the film, no I mean forgetting that there was even any 3D in the film. There were times when I remembered, usually during some action sequence, a big depth of field shot, or when something was flying right at the camera. Otherwise, for the most part, I didn't even notice it was there, I was just bugged by the big glasses sitting over my own glasses.
Okay, 3D out of the way, let's talk about the rest of the film, and I make no apologies from here on for not having a single negative thing to say about the film and perhaps being overly gushing. For I'll say it from the outset, Toy Story 3 is a nigh on perfect film.
The film captures the imagination immediately with a wonderful introduction that feels like Up in so many ways. It reminds us of the joy of the characters and their journey, and indeed ours, through the first few films. It's a brilliant reminder to put us in the right place for the start of the film, both emotionally and mentally as a reminder of what's come before. I actually felt the emotion building from these early scenes and struggled through them from the start. It's amazing how well Pixar can grab you and make you feel something for these animated toys.
This opening does something more than move you into the right place emotionally and remind us of the journey and the characters, it also signals the end of an era for the toys, for Andy, and for the audience. So from the outset it seems our loved characters are against a wall, and with our emotions up and our hopes for them low, the final film begins.
As usual with a Toy Story film, and any Pixar film, the script and visual realisation of the characters is superb, and they manage to make so much connection on an emotional level with the audience for CG created toys. Watching the film it occurred to me bizarre that Pixar can do this so easily and yet we see so many other films struggle to make that connection, even with live action characters. Pixar make it seem so damned easy.
Toy Story 3 is another wonderfully inventive film. You'd think that by now they'd run out of great ideas for the toys and the characters, but there are more and more that pop up throughout the story, far from the repetitive story I thought it would turn out to be when I heard about the plot way back. This film brings something new, introduces new characters, new situations, and builds us up to a wonderful final escape sequence that will have you on the edge of your seats.
These new characters range from being entertaining to very cleverly thought through. Ken is one genius edition, not just for the character himself, but for the situations and questions they raise over the character. He provides some of the most amusing moments, and is also a key lynch pin in the story.
Then there's the frightening watch-monkey, who is a genuinely spooky and unnerving toy, and the wonderful characters we meet at the new house. They haven't scrimped on creativity and ingenuity to just rely on the existing characters, they've certainly taken chances.
Once again the skill that Pixar have to weave adult elements of the stories effortlessly with the child shines through, and whatever age you are you get a film corker of a story without the feeling of missing out on anything.
The final escape sequence delivers us straight into one of the toughest situations that the characters have faced on their numerous adventures. The stakes are up and so is the danger. Some of these final sequences, which show superb imagination and scriptwriting, are also the most harrowing that the characters have been put up against. For some of the final sequences my heart was almost breaking for the characters, and there's a sequence that seems to seal the fate of them all and indicate to the audience that this is it, all over.
It's another incredibly emotionally charged sequence that gets right to the audience through these characters that we totally believe in. In terms of scripting, animation, and direction it's well beyond the years of the film and stands head and shoulders above what Hollywood delivers for the most part. Once more they hold the audience in their hands and can take them wherever they want to.
This has to be one of the most dramatic endings that Pixar has delivered in any film, built superbly through the tension of the escape to the final, shocking moments that had me fighting back tears and struggling to believe what I was watching.
Ultimately it's a very satisfying conclusion for the trilogy of the Toy Story films that could be seen as both a beginning and an end.
There's plenty to see during the credits, so stay to watch them, and I wouldn't be surprised if the cinematic release has something for after.
Toy Story 3 has one flaw, the 3D aspect. There was no need for it at all and I honestly couldn't tell you where I noticed that there was 3D. It seems that this is the only part of the film that plays any form of “keeping up with the Joneses” with the rest of Hollywood, every other aspect of the film is just streets ahead. You'd think everything else were the kids movies and this was the only mature one.
This is a hugely satisfying conclusion for the series, providing more imagination, more fun, more drama, more of every aspect of the films and without losing any feature that endeared these characters to us in the first place.
It's a joy and a marvel to watch, and Pixar should be immensely proud of what they have produced. The best in the series that pulls the films together, and brings out the love and friendship that the characters and their stories are all about.
You will laugh and cry, and when you leave the cinema you'll leave with a warm glow inside that is what all these films is about. Take your loved ones and enjoy.