10 January 2014

Toy Story

"Reach for the Sky!"
"To Infinity, and beyond!"
Are these phrases ingrained in your psyche? They are in mine because Toy Story has gripped the imagination of my girls. Their recently preferred viewing schedule has involved watching all three films in order on rotation, resulting in a Buzz 'n Woody fest of mammoth proportions. Just to be clear, video is mostly reserved for after-bath, before-bed scheduling. I do like to see them play with real toys too. If you haven't seen the films then you must have been on a different planet, maybe stationed in the Gamma Quadrant, Sector Four!
If you have seen them then you'll know they are a powerful example of what modern computer graphics can achieve; virtual reality is not an over-statement. Skin tones, reflections, shadows, graduated tinting, textures, facial expressions, body movement and landscapes make old cartoons look like, well, old cartoons.
But the Toy Story trilogy is not just about visual realism, it's an homage to all children's toys from the late twentieth century, their quirks, foibles and endearing qualities, to children and to growing up. The pixel-people are endowed with proper personalities, and even nicknames, so you care about them. But wait, the films are even more. There are spectacular voiceovers from Tom Hanks and co, including the above catchphrases and dozens more; makers Pixar developed storylines that really matter, involving the eternal struggle between good and evil, capture and escape, fear and fun, love and loathing all culminating in the coming of age of the toys' owner, Andy. There are credible relationships, camaraderie and strong emotions.
It's a fascinating and immersive experience with strong appeal from the cradle to the grave. Watching the films on Blu-Ray highlights the astonishing work of the graphic artists. High definition is a phrase which barely does it justice. But even the very best, photographic quality imagery is only half the story though, it demands a script of the highest standard, and here Toy Story delivers consistently across all three films. The humour is subtle and succeeds on more than one level. Kids can laugh at the stunts and scrapes, while peppered throughout are references to the full range of popular culture, which have this old granddad chortling.
I love watching these films and I love watching my girls watch them.

"There's a snake in my boot!"

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