Thursday 22 July 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3 in 3D

Toy Story 3 is another in a long line of commercial and artistic successes for Pixar Animation Studios. This computer-animated film is the third installment of the Toy Story series and brings together all of the familiar characters. One may have suspected that the creators would have run out of new, original ideas but I am pleased to report that the script turned out to be a refreshing entertainment of the highest quality. Without any hesitation, I can recommend this film for the entire family, a "wholesome" film.

I do not want to be issuing any spoiler alerts but will restrict myself to saying that the story line follows the first 2 films. Andy, the main "human" character, the owner of the toys, is now 17 and about to head off to college. The question is what will happen to his toys now that his life is moving on. From there, the adventure begins.

Surprising me with something original and unexpected is a sure formula for making me laugh heartily and I must say that Pixar delivered with the one scene with Buzz Lightyear when his friends try to "reset" him. I don't want to spoil it but I can say that I did not see it coming and when it did arrived, I laughed out loud.


In reviewing this film, I thought I would take a look back on Pixar itself and was somewhat astounded to see the accomplishments this company has racked up. Just look at this incomplete list of their films: Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up. The web site Rotten Tomatoes has gone so far as to call Pixar the most critically acclaimed film studio of all time. High praise, indeed!

Started in 1979 as part of Lucasfilm, the company at first worked in the background in the area of special effects. Steve Jobs bought the company in 1986 after he left Apple Computer and the company continued in the development of specialized computers sold primarily to the government and medical organizations and also to Disney Studios. However, poor sales of these systems saw the company's animation department doing more and more computer-animated commercials for other companies.

During this time, the company struck up a deal to produce 3 computer-animated features, the first one being Toy Story. The rest, so they say, is history.

Disney Studios acquired Pixar in 2006 and although wholly owned by Disney, continues as a separate company.

While more original films are in the offing, Pixar does have plans for further sequels such as Cars 2 and Monsters, Inc. 2.

3D Films

The idea of showing an image with the illusion of depth perception has been around since almost the beginning of photography. The same is true for movies. Commercial 3D films have existed since the 1950's however have been very much a niche market due to the costs involved in making and showing such films.

In the mid-80's, 3D films began a revival of sorts. IMAX produced several special titles within its theatre systems and Disney theme parks began using 3D to impress its audiences; Francis Ford Coppola's Captain EO starring Michael Jackson is a notable example.

From 1990 onwards, 3D production continued still as a niche market, although, by 2004, supposedly 54% of the IMAX theatres were 3D capable.

From 2003 to the present day, more and more films have come out in a 3D format. Film makers have taken note of the public's seemingly growing taste for this kind of movie experience and as the number of productions has gone up, the number of theatres outfitted to show 3D has grown. James Cameron of Terminator, Titanic and Avatar fame is predicting 3D will replace 2D as the standard not only for film, but for television and online content all within the next 25 years. On the other hand, famed critic Roger Ebert call 3D merely a gimmick.

Let's run down a short select list of 3D films in 2010 which have already come out or will be out this year:

Alice In Wonderland
Toy Story 3
Despicable Me
Step Up 3D
Piranha 3D
Tron Legacy

No doubt about it; there is something of a movement to 3D. Will it in the end replace 2D as Mr. Cameron is predicting?


Wikipedia: Toy Story 3

Wikipedia: Pixar

Wikipedia: 3-D Film

Los Angeles Times: Overall receipts include heftier 3D ticket prices

James Cameron: 3D is the future

Roger Ebert: Why I Hate 3-D (And You Should Too)


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