Toy Story is the third on my list of my favorite animated feature films. You can see the whole list in that link. If you’ve never seen Toy Story I’d really have to ask where the heck you’ve been. See it already!
What can I say about the first 3D full-length feature film ever made?
That it’s the Snow White of a new generation? Yes, I guess it is.
That it put Pixar on the map? Yes, I suppose it did.
That it was such a success because of all that fancy technology? Uh, no. Sorry.
Some will argue with me, but Toy Story was not a success because of the technology. It was a success because of the storytelling and characters.
Would it have worked in 2D? Yes, I believe it would have. A good story is a good story, no matter the medium. As I’ve said before, you can tell a good story with stick men as far as I’m concerned.
As I go through all my favorite bits from Toy Story, please note that I never mention rigging, lighting or texture mapping. Don’t get me wrong, it looks fabulous (even if the humans are a bit wonky ). It was freakin’ eye candy all the way when I saw this the first time.
Kids don’t care about eye candy (at least not after the first 10 minutes). Trust me. If the story sucks, a kid will let you know by their lack of interest…technology or not
But 3D worked for telling a story about toys. Period. These days, it’s just gotten a little out of hand. It’s everywhere! Gaa! Use it when it suits the story please.
That’s my two cents. Lecture over.
The toys. It was a trip back to my childhood. I know the people making this film were from my generation because of the toy selections. I mean Weebles! Stretch Armstrong! Sweet.
More great camera movement. Remember I talked about the great use of camera movement in my Iron Giant post? Here is another fantastic example of a reveal. We’ve been teased about what Andy’s gift was and we finally get to see it.
Woody looks up to bed and the camera pulls back to reveal legs.
Then the camera starts to pan up the body. We get a nice close view of Buzz in all his toy coolness.
To end on his little smirk.
The use of pulling out then panning up lets us really soak in the moment and enjoy our first look at Andy’s new toy.
The little details. OK, this is where I give the 3D stuff real props. The eye for detail in the room. Like the little scuff marks and the great P.O.V. shots that would be a nightmare in 2D. And the reflection here in this P.O.V. shot of Buzz taking his first look around Andy’s room. Nice.
When Buzz ‘fell with style’. This was just a fun piece of business that had huge meaning later in the film. In this scene Buzz had no doubt he could fly and he succeeded. Sorta. Remember that.
This frame in the ‘Strange Things’ song montage. It’s not even the shot that makes me laugh. It’s the last frame of the shot. That pose just makes me giggle.
The acting. Study and learn people. The timing, the posing, the little subtle stuff. So much greatness in this movie. Look at this scene of Woody getting the idea to get rid of Buzz (that backfires).
No words needed till he blurts out “Buzz!” at the end. This is what I mean when I talk about knowing what your character is thinking, and to act that out.
The whole scene under the truck. When they are first lost and at the gas station. Woody blurts out the now famous, “YOU. ARE. A. TOYYYYYYY!” But I love this bit where Buzz gives him the Vulcan sign and calls Woody a “strange, sad little man.” Great line with a nice visual joke.
Like I said in the Iron Giant post…sometimes words *are* funny.
The aliens in the machine. I mean come ON! “The claaaawwwww!”, “I have been chosen!” That sequence rocked the casbah. So. Damn. Funny.
Our first look at the mutant toys. Admit it. You were a bit freaked when you saw this for the first time, right?
This moment. When this little mutant guy turns off Woody’s flashlight. The timing rocked. Study it.
When Buzz sees his commercial. Huge moment for Buzz and for us. The story takes a big turn here as he comes to grips that he is just a toy.
When he tries to fly out Sid’s window. An even more powerful moment. Remember when he believed he could fly? He succeeded. Now when his confidence is shaken, he fails. Nice little life lesson here I think.
“I am Mrs. Nesbitt.” Purely for my own amusement. I love this bit.
The terrorizing of Sid. Was there no better sequence of a ‘bad guy’ getting what’s due? The audience gets a huge sense of satisfaction watching this. And they didn’t have to…you know…kill him off or anything.
“So play nice.” – Woody.
The whole chase. This end sequence is so fantastic for so many reasons. It has a bit of everything.
A whole bunch of fast-action craziness is going on. Then they cut to the baby in the car listening to Hakuna Matata. The baby sees what’s really going on the mirror. A great, funny moment of calm and quiet before jumping back to the action. Perfect.
This shot of silence after they let go of Slinky. It shows their defeat with it’s ‘wideness’ and their ‘smallness’. I just love it. Don’t be afraid of wide shots.
When the match burns out. The first time I saw this I let out an “Ohhh!”. We knew Woody had the match and assumed that’s what would save the day.
Too easy. Keep putting your characters in trouble and give us a great solution to the problem. Burn it out. Now what? Great storytelling.
“Now I have guilt!” – Rex.
When Potato Head gets smashed by the little car. Great timing. Great reaction face.
“To infinity and beyond!” A scene so good you need to see it twice. Such a great moment for the audience, especially when Buzz says he’s ‘falling with style’. He’s accepted who he is yet knows he can still ‘fly’.
We all need a little Buzz in our lives. Thanks Pixar.
Get out there and fall with style people. : )
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