April 2010

201004_br_toystory_280wBlu-ray Gives Buzz and Woody HD Ignition to Soar “To Infinity and Beyond”

Disney 103234
Formats: Blu-ray, DVD

Overall Enjoyment
Picture Quality
Sound Quality

Toy Story, released in 1995, was a gamble for Disney and Pixar, much like Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Snow White was the first animated feature film, and Toy Story was the first computer-animated feature film. Both proved naysayers wrong by becoming monster hits. On the eve of the June release of Toy Story 3, and the double-feature theatrical release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D, Disney and Pixar have released Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on separate Blu-rays, and the results are outstanding.

The stories, featuring toys that come to life when people leave the room, appeal to all ages. In Toy Story, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), a western sheriff marionette, is the toys’ leader, and he’s temporarily ousted after his owner, Andy (John Morris), receives a Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) action figure for his birthday. After some bad blood and a series of mishaps, Woody and Buzz become best friends, winning over all odds in a series of breathtaking chases.

Toy Story’s sparkling Blu-ray picture is as good as it gets. Transferred in the digital realm, it’s bright and colorful with spot-on detail from beginning to end. The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has satisfying presence and full-range frequency response. The sound is anchored in the front channels but spreads around the room at appropriate moments. Extras are plentiful and include most of the extras from the 10th Anniversary DVD release (in SD) as well as a new HD set put together specifically for the Blu-ray. These include a chilling black-and-white storyboard look at the original pitch made to Disney, in which Woody was quarrelsome and mean. No kidding. We’re all happy that changed to make this one of the most endearing classics in the history of animated film and a Blu-ray must-have for your collection. And if you don’t have Blu-ray yet, there’s an excellent DVD disc included, so you can watch it until you get a BD player.

Be sure to watch for: Chapter 12, “Lost at the Gas Station,” a perfect test for contrast and brightness settings. When Woody and Buzz scuffle under a vehicle, darks should be quite dark but there should be excellent shadow detail. And in Chapter 27, “The Chase,” the detail is so great that you should have a definite three-dimensional sense of the action. Without glasses.

. . . Rad Bennett