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Click above to purchase "Toy Story 2-Pack" at amazon.com

Toy Story 2-Pack

review by Zach B.

Rated G

Studio: Disney

Running Time:
Toy Story: 76 Minutes

With the voices of: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Wallace Shawn, Jim Varney, Annie Potts, Joan Cusack (Toy Story 2), Kelsey Grammar (Toy Story 2), Wayne Knight (Toy Story 2), Jodi Benson (Toy Story 2)

Directed by John Lasseter (Toy Story 1 and 2)

Retail Price: $39.99

Features: Outtakes, "Tin Toy" and "Luxo Jr." shorts, "Monsters Inc." sneak preview

Specs: 1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Toy Story 1 and 2), 1.33:1 Recomposed Full Frame (Toy Story 2), English Dolby Digital 5.1 (Toy Story), French 5.1 Dolby Digital (Toy Story) English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (Toy Story 2), English Captions, Chapter Search

In Thanksgiving 1995, Pixar, a computer animation studio known for such award winning and nominated shorts such as "Tin Toy" (a somewhat basis for "Toy Story") and "Luxo Jr." (I love all their shorts, but I can't resist the snowglobe opus "KnickKnack"), put out not only the biggest film of the year with a domestic gross of about 190 million dollars, but an instant classic and different kind of animated film. The film of course was "Toy Story", and invited us to meet a cast of wonderful characters and admire detailed and beautiful computer animation, which made this movie a whole new kind of expierence for audiences everywhere.

"Toy Story" begins with Woody, the leader and favorite toy of a young boy named Andy. The toys live their lives together, coming alive and talking when their owner is not around. However, something really shakes them when it's Andy's birthday, and they all worry about new toys coming to join them. Nothing major comes to pass, except when a really cool new toy, Buzz Lightyear, joins them. Buzz has no recollection of being toy, and actually thinks he is an outerspace hero. The toys instantly take a shine to him, and makes our cowboy friend Woody really jealous. Buzz then becomes Andy's favorite toy, making Woody seem like a distant second. So Woody attempts a scheme against Buzz which backfires, and puts their whole fates in complete jeporady. They go to the food/amusment park "Pizza Planet", and both end up at Andy's neighbor's house, the mean Sid, from there. Sid likes to torture toys, and the duo must get out alive and make it back to Andy... hopefully before the moving trucks drive away.

I was first on line to see the movie when it opened in theaters, and since it's debut, "Toy Story" was an instant classic for all ages. Randy Newman provided some good songs and a beautiful musical score, while John Lassetter and his Pixar team created a whole universe with an excellent story, sharp dialogue and well developed characters. His vision comes to full life here, and the A list voice cast is sensational. Tom Hanks provides the voice of Woody, while Tim Allen is the naive space ranger Buzz Lightyear. John Ratsenberger from "Cheers", Don Rickles, Annie Potts, the late Jim Varney and Wallace Shawn make up some more of the cast. A movie like this doesn't get any better... or does it?

That's where "Toy Story 2" comes into play. Originally planned as a direct to video sequel, the film turned out to be so good the Disney suits had them add more to it and release it in theaters. There were three versions of the movie: One that lasted a little over an hour, one that lasted about 75 minutes, and finally, the theatrical one, which had more story and more characters crammed into a little over 90 minutes.

"Toy Story 2" picks up right where the first one ended. The toys are settled into Andy's new house, everyone knows their place and they all get along really well. However, trouble begins to brew when Andy's mom holds a Yard Sale, and a little squeek penguin toy named Wheezy gets placed in a box to be bought, Woody goes out to rescue him. It is a succesful mission, but a greedy toy collector named Al notices Woody in the sale. When Andy's mom tells him he's not for sale, he goes out and takes Woody. It's up to Buzz and some of the other toys to get Woody back before Andy comes home from a summer camp. While Woody is with Al, Woody learns he is a really rare toy and from a "Howdy Doody" like show from the past, and Woody meets up with other, rare toys from the same show. While Woody decides about his future, to stay or leave, the other toys are well on their way to find him with some exciting and often really hilarious events. By the time the grand finale is reached, you'll be so impressed at what Pixar has done and by the end of the movie, you'll feel the impossible has been made possible.

Though I enjoyed the first "Toy Story" a lot, I found "Toy Story 2" to be far superior to what already was a cinematic achievment and movie landmark. The animation, which looked great to begin with is even more detailed and colorful. I thought the script was well written and the story more enjoyable than the first, and the whole creative process behind it amazing, plus the voice actors do another job well done, with the whole original cast returning and some nice performances from Joan Cusack and Kelsey Grammar. What also makes "Toy Story 2" such a marvel is the fact that it's no longer confied to a specific area, it's all over the place. The original "Toy Story" was pretty much kept to Andy's house, Sid's house, Pizza planet and a few scenes outdoors. "Toy Story 2" is all over the place. The outside roads with cars, "Al's Toy Barn" toy store, the elevator shaft, outside Al's apartment, Al's apartment, it goes on and on and on.

Both of these movies are incredible and never get boring no matter how many times you watch them. While I say you should go with The Ultimate Toy Box, families who don't really care so much for extras have a great deal here.

So many of us were really, really impressed with "A Bug's Life" and the wonderful digital to digital transfer, and both movies in this package use this same transfer method. Each properly framed at 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen, what you get is probably the cleanest, sharpest, dazzling picture to ever grace the DVD format. Everything is simply perfect and dead on. Blacks are solid, colors don't smear but are really bright and colorful, detail is amazing. I can rave on and on about this transfer. Simply put, it ranks as one of the best transfers ever. You also may be happy to learn that these are "properly framed" (as I mentioned). "Toy Story 2" is fine, but when the original "Toy Story" was in theaters, it was presented in 1.85:1. The aspect ratio was changed on the laserdisc and for this DVD, so you are definently seeing more. I did find a flaw in "Toy Story 2", though: there is some really slight shimmer now and then. Still, it's all jaw dropping and great eye candy. Also, "Toy Story 2" features a recomposed full frame version of the film, similar to the "A Bug's Life" release. Pixar has moved some objects around, cropped some shots, but you usually don't lose too much of the picture and sometimes see more of the actual frame. Again, wonderful transfers. Bravo Pixar!

Just as impressive are the sound mixes for each movie. These are truly, and I mean truly creative tracks. "Toy Story" is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and wow, you'll really feel like you are part of their world. With Randy Newman's wonderful music, the whole Pizza Planet scene and especially the finale, this mix doesn't let you catch your breath. While "Toy Story" far exceeded what anyone could dream for, "Toy Story 2" pushes it even further. "Toy Story 2" is 5.1 Dolby Digital EX, and I found surrounds to be more plentiful, wider and more dynamic. You can feel the tension with Woody at the yard sale, when Buzz and Zurg battle it out in the elevator shaft and of course, that excellent opening scene is perfect to show off how breahtaking and exciting the sound can be.

Toy Story: The Ultimate Toy Box really has all the goodies (I really think everyone should go with that option), but for this two pack, you simply get the pretty amusing Outtakes, the brilliant award winning and award nominated shorts Tin Toy and Luxo Jr., plus a great teaser for Pixar's next film, Monsters Inc. Looks fantastic!

If you don't like extras, then this is the version for you. While supplements are lacking, the picture and audio are spellbinding. Still, this is a great deal. You can score two wonderful movies in the same package for a retail of forty dollars. Online you can probably get them for cheaper. These movies deserve to be in your DVD collection, so just get them!

,(4.5/5 Toy Story 1, 5/5 Toy Story 2, NOT included in final score)

(5/5)

(5/5)

(1.5/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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