Sunday, 14 March 2010

The delights of Blu-ray and Buzz and Woody . . .

At last – Toy Story 1 and 2 has been released on blu ray.

I know there are people who will tell you that blu ray doesn’t make that much difference – well, frankly, those people are loons. Visually, blu ray is as good a step up as DVD was from VHS. I’m not a techie geek – I don’t feel the need to rave about textures and shadows – I will, but only if they add something to the film’s narrative.

Toy Story 2 is a rare thing – a sequel that is better than its predecessor. That’s right – not as good or on par. Toy Story 2 is streets ahead of the first one. But let’s be clear here, Toy Story 1 is a classic. It’s not like they knocked out a rubbishy first one to make the second one stand out. Oh no, the first one is full of warmth and derring do – alongside groundbreaking animation and a story that zips along at a fair old pace.

But Toy Story 2 is better! Like Godfather 2 and Aliens, it’s a film that outweighs the might of the original – not an allegation you could ever aim at Smokey and the Bandit 2 or Death Wish 3 . . .

Why do I insist on this? The film is one is one of the few sequels to have more story in the sequel! Well, look at the evidence – the story is a nice reappraisal of the original where Buzz fully accepts his toy role but where a toy store full of Buzz’s don’t! The animation outranks the original in depth, warmth and charm. Woody’s nightmare sequence of being dropped in the bin along with abandoned arms from other toys would not have been out of place in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The characters age in real time! Not the toys, but Andy, his sister, his mum – even the dog have aged since the original six years earlier. Name me another animation that credits the audience with so much intelligence? Even the smartest animation of its generation, The Simpsons, doesn’t have characters ageing in real time.

Finally, and for any gentlemen of my age, (and this is closing ‘your witness’ statement) it has Jessie singing that song! I can only excuse myself from the room at this point in time during every screening before it becomes suspicious! I cry at movies anyway – I break my bloody heart over this one.

So, like the other two greats mentioned above - Godfather 2 and Aliens, Toy Story is attempting to enter the ring one more time. The odds are stacked against it – has anyone ever praised George Hamilton’s gritty performance or, honestly, stated that Alien3 is the best of the bunch? And I know it was Fincher but it’s still rubbish compared to the rest.

But, right now, everything looks good for Toy Story 3. Andy continues to grow older (he’s off to university) and there is bound to be a song or two along the way. True, ‘Pain in the’ Jessie is back and Buzz looks like a copy of Puss in Boots from Shrek but, whatever happens, due to the brilliance of the first two they will always have a friend in me . . .

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