'Toy Story 2' Review By Thomas Clarke (Kiion)
Not only is Pixar leading the ground with computer animation, but can work their magic on creating masterful sequels too.
Unlike the first film that dealt with the issue many people have in being replaced in a job you enjoy, this film centers on the decision people make when they are finally given opportunity of being viewed completely valuable in the eyes of someone else. Again dealing with these issues through the eyes of a wooden Cowboy toy Woody, 'Toy Story 2' is perhaps Pixar's first truly mature movie, with many different demographics covered by the content featured.
In an attempt to rescue a toy who has been put in a yard sale, Woody is mistaken in being part of the sale himself, attracting a buyer who refuses to take no for an answer. Avid on claiming what he wants, this man (Al) steals Woody and brings him back to his apartment. In this strange place Woody is taken aback to the resolution that he is a rare and highly valuable cowboy toy - Al's plan being to sell him along with three others to a Museum in Tokyo. These other three that complete the set include cowgirl Jesse, Horse Bullseye and Prospector Stinky Pete. Together they complete a highly unusual set of toys that have taken a lot of time to be put together. At first against the decision of being shipped country, after spending time with the other three Woody begins to realise that although he would never be played with again it is a future he could have that would allow him to always be valuable in someones perspective. Buzz Lightyear, after the exploits of the first film, decides that Woody deserves to be rescued from this strange person. Creating a search team including Hamm, Mr.Potato Head, Slinky and Rex, the three friends head out of the house and work their way to the location they believe Woody to be in. When they finally meet back up, it takes much convincing to change Woody's mind in the situation and perhaps one of the most unique and entertaining rescue attempts ever put into film to draw this film to its conclusion.
Like the first film this plot is mainly directed at the younger generation of viewers, but it does hold enough that it will feature in many peoples personal libraries and those of you who enjoyed the first feature will find enough here to have a welcome return to the world that had been created. When it was first decided that 'Toy Story 2' was to be produced for a release on direct to DVD this film could have been one to avoid through sloppy production and lower budgets, however the change in decision to have it produced for theatrical release brings this film into a completely new light with the film given enough attention it needed in all the correct areas. Toy Story 2 is perhaps the best of Disney's many sequels, and this could be seen down to the fact the narrative is just as strong as the first as well as this production decision that changed the film for the better.
Developing better animation styles and techniques through their first two features, Pixar has released a film that - when compared to the first film - has a animation throughout that is vastly superior. Terrains look more smooth in design, depiction of humans are still slightly sloppy (although this could be to gain contingency with the original 'Toy Story') and whilst the scale of key narrative locations have becoming produced to a higher standard the decision to centre more on one location for the majority of the narrative, instead of the many different places that features in the later Pixar films, does take a lot from the content that has been designed. It is still a nice film to watch, but with these slight issues found 'Toy Story' does seem slightly aged when watched in comparison to other films such as 'Wall-E' and 'Ratatouille'. This is just through the technological advances that have happened over time, and although they are noticeable they should not take anything from the film.
With a complete returning cast from the first film, the voice work is still extremely strong in this film. New additions Joan Cusack and Kelsey Grammer slot into the existing roster easily and both give voice work that really outlines the characteristics of their characters, Jessie and Stinky Pete respectively. Following a similar formula to the previous installment, this film has many stand out scenes that linger in the mind long after the films credits have run through. The airport sequence is nicely staged and produced giving the right level of tension at the correct time in proceedings. The other standout segment is the traffic cone sequence that subtly adds humour to the narrative - something that Pixar can do easily it would seem.
One of the first true sequels that follow the same formula as the first, but also give enough new aspects to be counted level in terms of content, 'Toy Story 2' is a must watch for those who have an affinity with the series and characters. Easily stamping Pixar's authority in the design and telling of thought out and engrossing narrative. This film shows that one can never get to much of a good thing when it is handled right.