Friday, October 29, 2010

"The toy story that needed to be told"

Interrupting sci-fi week (s)

I saw Toy Story 3 on the airplane yesterday, and I'm not going to wait to review it, lest I forget it.  This review won't go on nearly as long as it could, and thus I'm calling it a mini-review.

All the characters from the first two movies return for the second G-rated sequel, with a few exceptions.  The once little boy Andy who used to love playing with Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bullseye and the rest of his adorable toys is now seventeen and heading for college (heaven knows why).  He has to figure out what to do with the toys, whether to sell them on eBay, throw them away, take them with him, or donate them to a daycare center.  After a mistake on his mom's part, the toys head off to daycare, where they meet Lotso the purple dinosaur hugging bear.  If you've looked at the latest Lego catalogs or talked to a friend who saw this movie, you probably know that Lotso is one bad toy, a tyrant who uses Big Baby and Ken, the male barbie doll who likes clothes, to effectively run the whole Sunnyside daycare building.

The animation in the movie is pretty gorgeous.  It's nowhere near as stunning as Kung Fu Panda, Surf's Up, or even How to Train Your Dragon, but the colors are fun and vibrant, and all the toys are brought to life with nice attention to detail by Pixar's animation team.  But be warned: if this movie is still playing near you at a discount theater or someplace, do NOT pay 4 extra dollars to see it in 3D.  Not only are the colors significantly dimmed by those heavy, obnoxious glasses, but there are absolutely no scenes in it that would benefit from the third dimension.  I only saw it in standard 2D, but not once in the movie did I see a sequence that appeared to be made for 3D.  TS3, like every other animated kiddie flick since Coraline, was only given a last minute 3D "upgrade" to snatch a few more dollars from gullible parents whose little kids have bought into the whole 3D craze.

I thought Toy Story 3 was an OK movie, especially for a sequel, and especially from a company which had previously produced such garbage as Wall-e and Ratatouille.  But it's definitely been overhyped.  I wouldn't be surprised if Disney paid the numerous critics to produce such reviews as: (copying and pasting from wikipedia)  "This film—this whole three-part, 15-year epic—about the adventures of a bunch of silly plastic junk turns out also to be a long, melancholy meditation on loss, impermanence and that noble, stubborn, foolish thing called love." (A.O. Scott, New York Times) , "the best movie trilogy of all time" (Mark Kermode of the BBC), "Compared with the riches of all kinds in recent Pixar masterworks such as Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up, Toy Story 3 looks and plays like an exceptionally slick and confident product, as opposed to a magical blend of commerce and popular art." (Michael Phillips), and "Dazzling, scary and sentimental, Toy Story 3 is a dark and emotional conclusion to the film series that made Pixar famous." (Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel).  Toy Story is not an epic in any world.  It's not a long, melancholy meditation on loss and love.  That description more suits a movie like Up, which is truly a masterpiece (although Wall-e was a Terrible, Preachy, Absolutely Awful "green" picture).  Toy Story is not the best movie trilogy of all time (Star Wars anybody?  LOTR?  Bourne?).  It was not scary or very dark, and despite an emotional ending which is a bit of a tear-jerker, it's mostly devoid of any particular message except "Don't leave your owner behind", which is vague and makes hardly any sense.  I have to quote my dad, who said, "I don't understand why it was 'the story that needed to be told'."  Admittedly, he didn't really watch the movie, and neither did my mom, who saw about the first and last ten minutes and slept the rest of the way through, which just serves to show that the movie is not as fun for adults as it is for kids, despite what the masses may tell you.

So Toy Story 3 is fun for kids, and has good themes of duty and loyalty, but it's not nearly as deep and meaningful as most of the critics have made it out to be.  Sorry for calling this a mini-review.

Grade: C+

Speaking of 3D, I saw Avatar: Special Edition in 3D not too long ago.  The 3D was very cool and there were definitely some parts where things really leapt out at you, but I actually prefer to see the magical world of Pandora in 2D because those darn glasses dim the vibrant colors far too much.