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" I didn’t lover her cuz it was right... I just loved her. "
— Robert Redford, Horse Whisperer

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Pixar bids a fond farewell to its Toy Story franchise with the third installment in the series. The Blu-Ray edition of Toy Story 3 emphasizes just how much effort and care the studio put into the movie.

All Grown Up

Disney/Pixar packs 4 discs of fun
Disney/Pixar packs 4 discs of fun

In 1995, Pixar Studios rocked the movie world with Toy Story, the first completely computer-animated feature film. What made the movie good wasn’t just the visuals, but the memorable characters and original story (didn’t you always sort of hope that your toys had lives of their own?). Toy Story 2 continued Pixar’s tradition of excellence, with an adventure that wasn’t a rehash of the first movie.

Toy Story 3 brings the characters full-circle. Andy, the toys’ human owner, is heading off to college. What will happen to Woody, Buzz, Rex and the rest of the gang? The movie is action-packed and teeming with vibrant visuals. It never feels over-plotted or cluttered. If the ending seems a little too sentimental, it’s what the audience would have wanted for the toys.

Blu-Ray Extras

On home video, Toy Story 3 is available as a single-disc DVD edition, a two-disc Blu-Ray edition, and a four-disc Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack (reviewed here). The combo pack has two Blu-Ray discs, a standard DVD, and digital copy disc. Certain points are emphasized repeatedly:  high-quality, computer-generated animation is a lot of work; and the folks who worked on this film really cared about the characters.

The discs are packed with information, which is often repeated, but it’s all presented entertainingly and if you find yourself getting bored, it’s easy enough to move on to the next feature.

Disc Two:

Director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson provide a lively commentary. It’s supplemented by Cine-Explore, in which picture-in-picture images pop up on the screen to provide additional illustration — early drawings of characters, in-progress graphics, or video of actors at work. They also point out visual references to earlier movies, for those of us who has forgotten some of the details.

The second commentary track (Beyond the Toybox) features the leads of the story, technical, art, and animation departments. They talk about choices in various elements of the movie – from the emotional state of the characters to the art on the walls. It’s hard to do a commentary without repeating things, and the commenters on both tracks do this occasionally.

In the “Family Play” section, The Gang’s All Here (11 minutes) looks at the voice actors, many of whom had lent their voices to the two previous films. The filmmakers were especially pleased that they were able to track down John Morris to be the voice of Andy.

Goodbye Andy (8 minutes) dissects the scene where Andy gives his favorite toys to his young friend Bonnie. The animators admit that their animation of humans wasn’t very good in the past, so this scene tested their ability to convey realistic movement and emotions. Epilogue (4 minutes) is a full picture version of the end credit sequence.

The “Film Fans” section focuses more on the nitty gritty of animating the movie. The old west/sci-fi/action opening sequence gets plenty of attention here: Roundin’ Up a Western Opening (5 minutes) looks at the storyboards, while Life of a Shot (7 minutes) has several Pixar employees explaining the work they did on that sequence. Three Studio Stories segments take a humorous look behind the scenes at Pixar (they have a cereal room!).

The “Publicity” section has several trailers and television spots. None of the sections on this disc has a “play all” option.

Toy Story Trivia Dash is a two-player trivia game that requires knowledge of all three films. This is one of the few games on Disney DVDs that will be engaging to older kids and even adults.

Disc One:

This disc is more sparse as far as features go. There are promotions for other Disney films and videos, including a teaser for Pixar’s next theatrical release.  

A welcome feature in the “Settings” section helps viewers tweak the picture and audio settings of their home theaters.

This disc only has 18 minutes of bonus material related to the movie, and includes a “play all” option. Day and Night is the short that was shown with Toy Story 3 in theaters (check out the making-of featurette on disc two). It’s a mix of hand-drawn and CGI animation, and it’s gratifying to see that Pixar is willing to make original movies.

Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs (4 minutes) has Buzz talking about experiments carried out on the International Space Station. Toys! (6 minutes) is about developing computer models for the characters. Pixar’s technology has advanced so much since 1995, that new computer models of the characters had to be created from scratch.

Standard DVD Extras

The single DVD has a selection of features from both Blu-Ray discs. There’s just one commentary track —  by Unkrich and Anderson — and it doesn’t have the picture-in-picture illustrations. The best extras here are Day and Night, the Studio Stories segments, and The Gang’s All Here.

Picture and Sound

The movie is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with DTS-HD 7.1 and 5.1 for the Blu-Ray and Dolby Digital 5.1 for the DVD.

Both the picture and sound are flawless. There’s very little difference between the Blu-Ray and DVD picture and audio.

The Blu-Ray has optional subtitles in French and Spanish, as well as audio in either language. There are English captions for the hearing-impaired and English Descriptive Video Service (DVS). The DVD has French, Spanish and English DVD audio options, and English captions.

How to Use This Blu-Ray

After watching the movie, check out Toys!. Want to know more? Switch to disc two and listen to the commentary track with Unkrich and Anderson, feel free to skip ahead a chapter or two if they start repeating themselves. Check out the Studio Stories segments. Save the rest of the bonus features for another time.