Words fail me when I try to describe Toy Story 3. Literally. I’m trying to think of a favourite scene, or a part that I didn’t think worked perfectly. And I can’t think of any – this is just a stellar film from start to finish. And would you really expect anything else from Pixar? Time after time, ever since the first of the toy trilogy was released fifteen years ago, they have consistently exceeded expectations. But, to me anyway, their last few films have taken the studio to an even higher level – if that’s possible – due to the emotional complexity that has been such a key part of Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3 inparticular. It’s the sort of complexity that you’d struggle to find in countless live-action films, so the fact that Pixar has repeatedly done this with animation is nothing short of amazing. We are in a golden age of animation, that is universally popular – kids and adults alike love Pixar, and readers of my blog know how close I hold the studio to my heart. And Toy Story 3 is no exception.
Where to start? The storyline feels refined, and complex enough to interest everybody but not too dense. The pacing of the film is perfect, constantly moving and never slipping into a lull, even slightly. I was completely hooked to the screen, awaiting the next twist. And some of the sequences were absolutely breathtaking – I loved the toys getting thrown around in the toddlers’ room, and it was amazing how sorry you felt for this group of plastic toys. The break-out sequence was also fantastic – with Mr Tortilla Head a particular highlight. And the landfill sequence was absolutely astounding, and I think the climax was possibly the best scene of any Pixar film so far – it is absolutely iconic, and just beautiful. All of the toys joining hands, and thinking – as we are – that this is the end. Surely, they couldn’t end this film trilogy by killing off the remaining toys? Their saviour came completely out of nowhere, but made sense.
The new characters were well-received, inparticular Ken, of course. He provides comic relief to this surprisingly dark film and enables the funniest gag in the whole movie when he (or is it?) encounters the Bookworm. Lotso is somewhat surprisingly the villain, especially considering the marketing that has preceded the release. He has echoes of the Prospector from TS2 but he has a deep, heart-breaking back story that gives him a motivation, and even gives him some sympathy. And Bonnie’s toys were also fantastic, even though they only had brief screen time. Chuckles the clown was a fantastic character that gave one of the film’s biggest laughs but also insight into the film’s biggest antagonist.
I could talk about this film for hours, and I’ve been reading reviews of it this morning because I loved it so much. Almost universal acclaim isn’t even surprising. Toy Story now has a claim to be the best movie trilogy of all time, obviously in the animation field but also probably above any live-action offering. I can’t separate the three of them at all, because they each appeal to me in a different way. And I think that the huge gap between TS2 and TS3 has been of benefit – it allows them to play with the idea of the kid growing up and growing out of his toys, just like the audience has. I was four when the first Toy Story came out, and so it’s always had a special place in my heart because I’ve grown up with it. I’ve rewatched the first two films on video and more recently DVD countless times. But I’m so glad that this film eventually came out – especially after its brief stint in development hell – because it gives closure to the film. I think the sentiment is echoed by anybody in our generation – my Facebook news feed has been full of Toy Story for the last few weeks, and the cinema was full of older people – not a young child in sight, in fact – last night. I think that Pixar hit the nail on the head by making a story that really hits for a slightly older audience. If I was a kid watching this film, it wouldn’t have the same effect on me as the first one did. The dark tones in the film would have gone over my head. That is not a criticism – in fact it is a testament.
I feel like I should wrap up. If anybody hasn’t seen this film yet, first off let me apologise for the spoilers, but you really have to. It gives the perfect ending to the film, and explores such interesting ideas and a symmetry to the series. In TS1, the toys get lost, but get found. In TS2, the toys get broken, but they can be fixed. In TS3, the toys are outgrown – and there is nothing they can do about it. This feeling of almost helplessness is stunning, and is at its finest in the final scene that I’ve already touched upon. The ending is really sad – as you’ve probably heard – and I’m not going to spoil it at all. You have to see it. I was holding back tears, but I’ve heard from so many of my friends that have cried at the end. It’s just a poetic ending. It feels almost like my childhood is over – I see myself in Andy a little, as Pixar intended – and that is truly a testament to how big an effect Toy Story has had on both the film industry and its audience. One hundred out of ten.Noteworthy 4 August 2010
Tagged as movies, noteworthy, reviews
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