This is one of those reviews that’s kind of easy to write but at the same time kinda hard. Easy because I know exactly what I thought of it, hard because it’s all been said up to a month previously by other people, lol. As you probably have heard, this is pretty much one of the best movies of the year, it’s practically unanimous, and I’m glad to say that for once I agree with such a widespread view.
It’s kind of crazy to think that I’ve now seen every part of this trilogy in the cinema and even when I saw the first one, I wasn’t exactly a kid at 15. I remember taking my sister to see it, I remember loving the music (I was into all Disney music bigtime at the time) but probably more than anything revelling in the sheer hi-techery of the whole thing (“the whole movie was made on a computer!!”)
When Toy Story 2 was released, I forget what level of anticipation I really had for it. I was in the middle of college and pretty much high on Disney after Tarzan (I’d end up doing my final dissertation on Disney). What I remember is badly wanting my own Jessie doll after the movie, her story being the one that really resonated most with me.
I saw the first part again when it was re-released in 3D… part two never made it to our cinema in that form, or I just missed it, but these are movies that are always fresh in my mind. The 3D worked, I thought, pretty well in that re-release, but more than anything it was just awesome to see it on a huge screen again, and projected digitally. It felt strangely pure or something (as opposed to, say, a 70mm oldie being projected digitally).
I didn’t necessarily doubt this installment would be as great as people were saying (I’d seen the trailer and it really boded well on the emotional front). But having recently seen that first one and once again realise just how perfect it is, on top of the wonders that Pixar have given us even in the 11 years since part 2, I didn’t put my expectations too high.
Well I’ve seen Toy Story 3 twice now… first in a dodgy download version because I simply needed to see it before I read too much about it and spoiled it for myself. I trusted, as I always do, that if the movie was as good as people were saying, the quality of the presentation would not make a huge difference to the story, and I wasn’t wrong. Like many people, I bawled not just like a baby but like someone with serious mental problems LOL.
This movie has some serious emotional weight, like the most recent of Pixar’s productions Wall•E and Up. What’s different here, however, is how those emotions are spread throughout the picture. There are two intense emotional beats towards the end of the movie, but the melancholic undertones are there right from the moment (after a “fantasy” opening similar to the way the first two movies open) we re-enter Andy’s bedroom, through the POV of his mom holding a video camera.
I won’t talk about those two parts at the end, except to say that they worked just as well on my flat laptop screen as they did in enormous 3D. My opinion of 3D remains the same as I think I’ve said before, and it’s just exactly the same as my opinion of seeing movies on the big screen in general. It’s always nice to see movies larger than life, but it’s simply not always possible. Almost all of us have more favourite movies that we’ve never seen on the big screen than ones that we have, so I’m pretty sure we can all agree that if a movie is good enough it doesn’t necessarily need a big screen projection. It’s nice, it adds to the experience, it immerses you more, but it doesn’t change the quality of the film.
I’m still only giving the movie 4 hearts right now because I’m remembering the original and how absolutely perfect that was right down to the screenplay structure etc, and I feel like to a certain extent those massive emotional punches at the end throw this instalment off-balance in a similar way to those last two Pixar productions I mentioned (though by nowhere near as much… plus they made me cry a lot more). I’m in near total agreement however with those calling the trilogy as it stands one of the best trilogies of all time. The consistency over 15 years really is incredible, not to mention the sheer uniqueness of this world… and while I’ve really focussed like everyone else on the huge emotional impact of this one, it has just as much excitement, humour, thrills and invention as the others.
I wanted to say something about Jessie but I can’t find anywhere above to slip it in lol. Like I said I had a huge crush on Jessie after the second movie, and she had the big emotional moment of that movie that really made me love it most, in her backstory with Emily (cleverly echoed here in Lotso’s story; though Lotso of course reacts very differently to being left behind). I had actually almost forgotten how much I loved her so much that she wasn’t even a factor in my excitement about seeing part 3. Then she appeared and I just fell in love all over again. There’s more made of the funny relationship between her and Buzz that began in the second movie, and in the midst of this are some insanely stylised, romantically-lit shots of her that just wowed me. It’s her face that really carries the first of those aforementioned emotional punches at the end and all I need to do is recall that face and her hand reaching out to start crying all over again. This is a wonderful, wonderful addition to a practically perfect series of movies. But you know that already.
Oh yes: another extra thing to mention as I won’t write it anywhere else… moreso for me than the 3D among reasons to see this movie on the big screen is the short that precedes it. I always forget that Pixar put these shorts before all their features and this one like so many of them is so great it threatens to supplant the memory of the movie. It’s called “Day & Night” and combines 2D and 3D animation in an ingenious way that really can’t be described well to anyone who hasn’t seen it. It’s about conflicting ideas and perspectives from the broadest scale to the most specific (you could argue it’s simply about the co-existence of 2D and 3D cinema). It has insane technique and a great message in the perfect balance that the best of Pixar has to offer. I’ll be very disappointed if it isn’t at least nominated for an Oscar next year (likewise, of course, the feature it precedes!)