So I saw Toy Story 3 tonight at an early screening here in Houston, TX. A little background info about me. I am a big, no HUGE, Pixar fan, I've watched every film that they have created dozens of times. Let me begin, this is definitely no Ratatouille, Wall-E, or Up. Pixar is definitely coming back to it's family roots and Toy Store 3 is extremely evident of that. Don't get me wrong, Pixar has completely outdone themselves once again offering a film that is extremely entertaining, thrilling, and fresh, but it is kind of disappointing that the film doesn't reach any true depth until the POWERFUL last act.
I'm going to divide my review into several sections.
Writing: The humor was straight up HILARIOUS. There were several scenes that had the audience ROTFL'ing, even I, as crude and bitter I may be when it comes to comedy, was laughing out loud at a few parts. However some jokes do fall flat into Dreamworks territory with potty humor (lincoln logs anyone?) which I hope does not become a recurrence, but overall the film had some wonderful writing and dialogue creating a truly believable setting and tone.
Animation: It's truly a shame that some of the later scenes in the final act haven't been shown in the commercials because, DAMN, the detail is truly remarkable. Since this is a no spoiler review I won't move further into that but let me tell you now, you will be impressed. Humans are beginning to look more realistic with ton's of attention to movement and the toys have benefited from some spackle in the facial department in an attempt to create a more emotionally expressive character. While it didn't blow me away like Finding Nemo and Wall-E did when they released, the work done here by Pixar is truly solid and way above anything Dreamworks has brought to the table. The 3D is also decent, I'm not really buying into this whole fad because after a few minutes you don't notice the effect. The added depth is nice but you honestly won't be missing much if you watch it in a good quality cineplex.
Sound: The theater I went to had a pretty weak sound system so I can't really comment on the effects but when it comes to voice talent, the actors truly shine. It was sad to see some characters go like Bo Beep and Squeaky but some of the new additions like Lotso and Ken, played by Ned Beatty and Michael Keaton, are some true standouts thanks to the excellent dialogue provided by the script. All the original characters once again do their job quite well and with the excellent editing and mixing, the dynamics of social interaction between the characters are expressed clearly.
Depth/Theme: You know I was going here and I HAD to talk about it. Ratatouille had the whole analysis of segregation with "Everyone can cook", Wall-E brought environmentalism, consumerism, capitalism, and most importantly love to the table, while Up directly deals with death and the emotions that stem from it. Toy Story 3 repeats the abandonment and moving on angle from Toy Story 2 which is TRULY the film's weakest link. Not because the movie copies the second films moral, but because TS3 virtually ignored these themes until the last act which I will admit was quite compelling. It would have been nice to spread these serious moments throughout the film to create a balanced equilibrium but unfortunately this does not happen. However I do want to talk about this pivotal juncture in the final act, there was a moment in the movie that only last a minute or two, but felt very, very, very real. I can't stress this enough, I have never felt anything like this from a movie. The first time I cried in a move was with Up's "Ellie" sequence but for some reason I didn't do it here. My emotions went beyond crying, I don't know if it was the swirling bright ember colors contrasting with the stark images or the expressiveness of the toys in that very moment, but I sat there in disbelief and was affected in a way that has not existed before.
Overall: I really do wish that Lee Unkrich could have spread the last 15 minutes throughout the movie but that didn't happen which is why I could not give this movie a 10, however, that last act SAVED this motion picture from being another run of the mill Dreamworks film. Aside from some of the lame toilet humor and disappointing direction choices, Toy Story 3 is a very solid conclusion to one of the best trilogies of all time that needs to experienced solely for the last beautifully gratifying act with the gang that I grew up with.
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