From all of us here at The Bits today: A Happy Friday to YOU, sir! (And/or madam.)
Toy Story 2: Special Edition
DirectorJohn Lasseter, Ash Brannon, Lee Unkrich
Release Date(s)1999 (March 23, 2010)
Studio(s)Buena Vista Home Entertainment
In 1999, Pixar followed up their hugely successful debut with Toy Story 2. Just as successful, the sequel introduced new characters and gave the toys a chance to get out of Andy’s room and explore the world around them.
While I genuinely enjoy Toy Story 2 and think it’s a nice follow-up, it just isn’t as impressive as the original (few sequels are). It’s not a bad movie at all, but it just seems to be lacking what made the original so special in the first place. While the emotional wallop is still there, it seems to take a step back rather than forward and pander more directly to children rather than people of all ages. In any other animated series this would be acceptable, but for a sequel to a movie that had such broad appeal, Toy Story 2 seems to fail. It’s still a successful story, but it feels more like a television spin-off rather than a movie, at least to me.
The charisma of the characters is still intact, thankfully. The overriding and repeating fear from film to film (including the as yet to be released Toy Story 3) is that Andy will get tired of his toys and stop playing with them, which is Woody’s greatest fear. There are some sequences that were deleted from the original that carried over into the sequel: the Buzz Lightyear adventure opening, Woody’s nightmare and the character of Wheezy. In the final moments of the movie, Wheezy breaks into song – a big band version of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” To me, that ruins not only a great character, but tosses out the validity of the original in that these stories aren’t fairy tales and their characters don’t break into song. So the movie has some problems, but that being said, I still enjoy it for the most part. The animation excels above the first one, obviously, and gets better with every picture. All of the characters are funny and enjoyable and the story is a fun and entertaining ride. I just wish that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.
Again, as with the Toy Story Blu-ray, Disney really did a nice job in putting together a great set with some great extras (on the lighter side compared to the previous disc, but I’ll come back to that later). It’s new content mixed with old again, but it’s been compacted and upscaled in quality wherever possible.
The video on this one looks just as great as the original. Actually it looks better, but only marginally so. I didn’t notice as much digital noise this time. In fact, hardly any at all. It’s sleek, sharp and just all around a terrific looking picture. I noticed that the contrast is slightly higher in this sequel, but that’s nothing to complain about. It’s also worth noting that Disney has replaced their original opening logo on both movies with the new computer-generated logo. The soundtrack work here is just as great as the video. Well-mixed as always, it makes you happy to have a 5.1 setup because they really take advantage of it. As with the original, you’re given 5 audio options: English DTS-HD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, English DTS-HD 2.0 and English DVS 2.0. You also get 3 different sets of subtitles: English, French and Spanish. There’s also one additional option here that allows you to Maximize Your Home Theatre by calibrating your system’s video and audio. Now let’s go in-depth and check out these extras.
These releases are slanted more toward Blu-ray enthusiasts, rather than general fans. Not a problem though, as the menu system is smooth and easy to navigate, regardless of who purchases the set. Various pictures of concept artwork slide by as you sort through the menus, which is a very nice addition. Starting off with the NEW Blu-ray features, you get the Toy Story 3 Sneak Peek: The Characters, which is the second part (the other is on the Toy Story Blu-ray). This is a much more detail-oriented peek as they introduce a lot of the new characters that will be featured in the new film. Next is an audio commentary with director John Lasseter, co-directors Lee Unkrich & Ash Bannon and co-writer Andrew Stanton. It’s a fun and interesting commentary and just as high energy as the other release. Next is part two of the Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: International Space Station, which goes into a little bit more depth about Buzz’s trip into space, via NASA. Up next is the short featurette Paths to Pixar: Technical Artists, featuring some of the crew from Pixar chatting about what they do for a living. Studio Stories comes in 3 parts: Toy Story 2 Sleep Deprivation Lab, Pinocchio and The Movie Vanishes. The latter contains a revealing tale about how the movie was almost lost and then rescued by a chance of pure luck. Pixar’s Zoetrope shows off an attraction that can be seen at Disneyworld that features several characters from both movies. Celebrating Our Friend Joe Ranft is a tribute to the great storyboard artist from both films who passed away a few years after the sequel was released. These features end with a short segment on Disney DVD and Digital Copy and a BD-Live option.
That takes care of the new features, now let’s flip over to the other menu Classic DVD Bonus Features. Here a lot of the extras from previous releases are presented including the featurettes Making Toy Story 2, John Lasseter Profile and Cast of Characters, which is all good stuff. Next is a section called Toy Box which contains Outtakes (seen at the end of the movie), Jessie’s Gag (an Easter Egg from the Toy Story 2 DVD), Who’s the Coolest Toy?, Riders in the Sky Music Medley and Autographed Pictures. Following all that up are 2 deleted scenes with an intro, which wouldn’t have really added much to the film. You also get another set of Design Galleries split into 3 parts: Concept Designs, 3-D Visualizations and Color. A set of Production featurettes follows with Designing Woody’s Past, Making Woody’s Round-Up, Production Tour, Early Animation Tests, Special Effects and International Scene. Next is a section devoted to Music & Sound: Designing Sound, Making the Songs, “Woody’s Round-Up” Music Video and “Jessie’s Song” Randy Newman Demo. Finally, the Publicity section features Character Interview (Woody and Buzz), trailers, TV spots, posters and Baseball Woody. Topping it all off are the Sneak Peeks: Disney Movie Rewards commercial, Toy Story 1 and 2, The Princess and the Frog, James and the Giant Peach: Special Edition, a Disney Parks commercial, Toy Story 3, an On Blu-ray Disc segment and Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition. The DVD version that’s included features the NEW extras only, along with additional Sneak Peeks for Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, Phineas and Ferb, and fewer audio and subtitle options.
That takes care of what you get on this fancy new set. Now let’s take a look at what you don’t get. Missing extras from the Toy Story: Ultimate Toy Box set are the Isolated 5.1 Sound Effects-Only Track, the Luxo Jr. short, Sneak Peeks of Monsters Inc. and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, the Introduction to the Supplemental Features, almost everything from the History section including Why a Sequel?, The Continuing World of Toy Story, Production Notes and Cast Biographies, the Story section (Storyboard Pitch, Storyboard to Film Comparison from Multiple Angles – Woody’s Nightmare and Jessie’s Song), the Production Progression Demonstration from Multiple Angles featurette, the Mixing Demo segment and the Guide to Hidden Jokes.
Now, this is where I’m supposed to defend the producers of this disc for not including some of this material, but I don’t have an argument here. As far as the features go, there DEFINITELY could have been more material put on this disc. There’s quite a bit of extras to go through, but not nearly as much as the Toy Story Blu-ray. What they seem to have done is compress all of the material and break it down to make it flow smoother for this release. The problem is that there was plenty of room to include at least some of the things that are missing. To put things in perspective, it took me an entire day to comb through everything on the Toy Story disc. Yet on the Toy Story 2 disc, it only took me a few hours to check everything out, which is kind of disappointing.
Nevertheless, this is a great upgrade to high definition, even if it is lacking in the features department. It looks and sounds fantastic and is definitely worth picking up. If you have the Toy Story: Ultimate Toy Box, I again suggest hanging onto it if you want the extras that didn’t make the cut. If you’re not interested in the extras, by all means sell it and upgrade because this is another must-buy.
- Tim Salmons