Toy Story 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.77:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. At no point did I experience any reason to complain about this excellent transfer.
Sharpness appeared flawless throughout the film. The movie always seemed perfectly crisp and detailed with no signs whatsoever of any softness or haziness to be found. I also detected no signs of moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge enhancement seemed absent. As with the original Toy Story, this transfer came from the actual computer data. Because of this, it didn't have any flaws since no print was ever used, and the result was a tremendously clean and fresh image.
TS2 used a varied palette, and the colors came through with exquisite richness and boldness. From start to finish, all of the hues seemed gorgeous. From the lovely red of Jessie's hair to the warm browns of Woody's clothes to the sumptuous purples of Zurg's body, the whole magilla looked great. At no point did I discern any problems related to colors; they appeared absolutely scintillating.
Black levels also were deep and dense. They offered no signs of murky or muddy qualities, and I also saw excellent contrast. Shadow detail appeared clear and appropriately opaque throughout all of the related scenes. Best of the bunch were the shots in Al's apartment at night. Just the flickering light of a TV illuminated these and they presented excellent depth throughout the dimly lit scene. All in all, TS2 offered a tremendously fine image that showed virtually no complications.
When we moved to the audio, we found a similarly terrific experience via the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. The soundfield seemed very broad and engaging. For the most part, the forward spectrum dominated, but the entire package was well-distributed and nicely balanced. It's a pretty seamless mix that spread the audio cleanly between the various channels. Effects and music often emanated from all five speakers, and the sound blended together neatly so that the environment seemed smooth and convincing.
Various auditory elements appeared precisely located in the spectrum. Even dialogue was focused in the correct locations across the front speakers, and we also heard some speech from the rear when appropriate. The surrounds contributed excellent reinforcement of the information and also used split-channel details quite effectively. Best of the bunch was probably the scene in which Buzz and the gang had to cross a busy street. The sound flew fast and furious and really engulfed the viewer in the action.
Equally solid was the quality of the audio. Some of the dialogue in the original movie came across as edgy and brittle, but that didn't occur here. All of the speech in TS2 appeared warm and natural, with no signs of shrillness or concerns related to intelligibility. Music sounded clear and smooth, with terrific range. The various songs were wonderfully rich and lush - especially the lovely "When She Loved Me" - and the score seemed appropriately brassy and bright.
Effects were the best part of the package. They appeared very accurate and realistic and showed absolutely no signs of distortion or harshness. The track boasted fine resolution and terrific depth; this movie offered some excellent bass. The aforementioned street-crossing scene provided one strong example, as did the segments in the apartment building vents and its elevator. Even Al's indigestion appeared deep and rich! Overall, it's a wonderful mix that deserved high praise.
How did the picture and sound of this version compare to the Special Edition DVD from 2005? Both offered fairly similar audio. I really liked the 2005 DVD’s DTS track, and I didn’t think the lossless audio here did a ton to improve on it. The DTS-HD mix was a little smoother and peppier, but not a lot.
On the other hand, the Blu-ray gave us a substantial step up in terms of visual quality. While the DVD looked great for its format, it couldn’t compare with the resolution and clarity available on Blu-ray. This presentation was much closer to perfect and made an attractive picture even more stunning.
The Blu-ray mixes new elements with old ones. I’ll go over the repeat supplements first and then cover the Blu-ray exclusives. If you want to leap straight to the fresh stuff, just look for the special blue print.
Most of the repeat materials appear under the banner of “Classic DVD Bonus Features”. Though it showed up on the prior DVDs, an audio commentary winds up lumped with the new components. It features director John Lasseter, co-writer Andrew Stanton, and co-directors Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. And a fine one it is, as they touch on many things connected to the film.
We get many notes about the story and various inspirations. We also learn about the new characters and their development as well as growth in the old ones. The guys toss out info about visual design, different gags and references, challenges related to a sequel, music, audio effects, and their interaction, technical areas and the work of the cast.
The piece adopts a nicely casual but enthusiastic tone. I especially like the emphasis on character and story. Most commentaries for animated flicks – especially CG ones – focus largely on technical elements. We get those bits here, but they’re balanced with a great deal about the creative side.
Normally I hate to hear lots of praise in a commentary, but as was the case with the track for the original Toy Story, here I don’t mind. All involved seem so genuinely proud of their work that the attitude becomes infectious. This is a fun and useful track.
Making Toy Story 2 fills eight minutes and 13 seconds. It features notes from Lasseter, Unkrich, Stanton, Brannon, supervising animator Glenn McQueen, technical director Oren Jacob, and Disney executive Thomas Schumacher. We get details about the origins of the sequel, influences and the story, themes, and a few technical notes. A few good notes pop up here, but the show stays a little too general to be terribly valuable. That’s especially true since we already know so much from the commentary.
A John Lasseter Profile provides clips from Unkrich, Disney executives Peter Schneider and Thomas Schumacher, actors Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Tom Hanks, Estelle Harris and Kelsey Grammer, producers Karen Robert Jackson and Helene Plotkin, composer Randy Newman, Pixar chairman Steve Jobs, singer McLachlan, and Lasseter himself in this testimonial to his wonderfulness. Somehow, the three-minute and three-second program manages not to appear self-serving and sappy.
Cast of Characters offers a discussion of the various roles and the entire voice recording process from Schneider, Lasseter, Hanks, Allen, Rickles, Harris, Schumacher, Grammer and actors Wayne Knight and Joan Cusack. We also see some good shots from the recording sessions in this three-minute and 29-second piece. I was interested to note that unlike the usual process, Allen and Hanks apparently worked together at times, as did both Harris and Rickles.
A bunch of materials show up in the “Toy Box”. This launches with both sets of Outtakes that appeared during the movie's theatrical run. As with A Bug's Life, the film added some faux-bloopers during the end credits, and both pictures also had two separate sets of clips; one appeared when the film first hit screens, and the second replaced the first after a few weeks in theaters.
Unlike the Bug's Life disc, none of the outtakes can be found during the presentation of the movie itself. Instead, they're all shown fullscreen and they run for a total of five minutes and 27 seconds. Personally, I think this concept is getting a bit tired. The first batch in Bug’s Life was fun because it so neatly lampooned the lame bloopers that we sometimes find added to movies. At this point, they're losing their wickedly mocking tone and are becoming more ordinary. Still, they're kind of fun and deserve a look.
Who's the Coolest Toy? is a cute but insubstantial piece in which a slew of participants debate the topic. We find interview clips with Lasseter, actors Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, John Ratzenberger, Joe Ranft, Joan Cusack, R. Lee Ermey, Jodi Benson, Don Rickles and Wayne Knight, musicians Sarah McLachlan and Riders in the Sky, Pixar chief Steve Jobs and producers Karen Robert Jackson and Helene Plotkin. In this three-minute and 18-second program, the participants chat about which TS2 toy is the best. Meh.
We find a three-minute and 10-second Riders In the Sky Music Medley. Riders In the Sky play an amalgam of tunes. In addition to the "Woody's Roundup" theme, it tosses in bits of "Act Naturally", "You've Got a Friend in Me" and other songs. The video is a pretty standard affair that combines lip-synch shots of RITS with scenes from the film.
The “Toy Box” ends with Autographed Pictures. It shows 18 publicity photos with phony signatures of the toys. (Not that I suppose you could have real signatures from them.) The disc presents it in a filmed manner that lasts 45 seconds.
With that we move to Deleted Scenes. This area starts with a 47-second "Introduction" from co-director Brannon that sets up the two scenes to follow. "Crossing the Road" exists in the final film, but the version here places in an alternate location; during the one minute and 53 second clip, we see the toys cross a suburban street, not the urban one we eventually witnessed in the completed movie.
"Godzilla Rex" lasts one minute and 25 seconds and was originally to be the way that Woody would end up in the garage sale. While I agree that the scene in the final film worked better, this is still a funny segment that I enjoyed.
In the “Design” category, we start with “Characters”. 11 Galleries offer drawings in filmed collections. These present “Woody” (48 sketches, one minute, 52 seconds), “Buzz” (53, 2:03), “Andy’s Toys” (55, 2:09), “Woody’s Roundup” (80, 3:07), “Zurg” (25, 0:59), “Al” (29, 1:10), "Zurg’s Planet" (23, 0:54), “Andy’s House” (15, 0:36), “Al’s Apartment” (27, 1:03), “Al’s Toy Barn” (43, 1:41) and “Airport” (30, 1:08). We also get 3D Visualizations for “Woody” (0:22), “Buzz” (0:22), “Andy’s Toys” (2:36), “Roundup Gang” (1:06), “Zurg” (0:22), “Al” (0:22), “Tour Guide Barbie” (0:22), “Zurg’s Planet” (0:32), “Andy’s Room” (1:04), “Al’s Apartment” (1:04), “Al’s Toy Barn” (2:12) and “Airport” (1:04). These show the characters as they "spin" for the virtual camera. The set tours come with commentary from production designer Jim Pearson that discusses various elements involved with their design. We also learn how the filmmakers reused old digital props.
For the final “Design” component, we move to “Color”. An Introduction from Pearson lasts 33 seconds and tells us a little about what we’ll see here. Color Scripts (60, 2:18) are used to demonstrate the color design for each scene while Color Keys (42, 1:38) influence lighting.
“Production” breaks into seven pieces. Designing Woody’s Past goes for two minutes and 50 seconds and includes notes from Lasseter and Brannon. They take us on a tour of the “Woody’s Roundup” items created specifically for the movie. It’s a fun look at these pieces in a more detailed manner than what we get in the flick.
Making Woody’s Roundup fills two minutes. Here effects artist Leo Hourvitz gives us an overview of how the "Woody's Roundup" puppet show was created. It offers another nice glimpse of this side of things.
Production Tour offers a basic video overview from Lasseter, co-editors Unkrich and David Ian Salter, and co-director Brannon. The two-minute and 31-second program uses a short Buzz and Woody clip from early in the film to demonstrate how thing go from storyboards to the final animation.
Early Animation Tests include notes from supervising animator Glenn McQueen. He chats while we see tests of Woody, Bullseye, Jessie, Al, and Zurg. McQueen tosses out good notes like how Danny DeVito influenced Al, and I like the shots of talking Bullseye and “Krishna Jessie”.
Special Effects features associate technical director Oren Jacobs. In this 98-second program, he demonstrates how effects add to the scene in which Buzz confronts the massive army of robots.
International Scene starts with an introduction from Unkrich and
Lasseter. In this one-minute and 47-second piece, we see how the scene in which Buzz's inspirational speech was altered for non-US audiences. That segment showed a US flag waving behind him while the "Star Spangled Banner" played, and that segued into shot of the flag during a TV channel's evening sign-off.
Instead of the US-specific materials, the international version featured a globe with fireworks shooting plus a new song by Randy Newman called the "One World Anthem". While I understand the desire to make the film play better overseas, it means that the scene makes no sense. Part of the gag related to the transition between the speech and the TV sign-off, and since no one's ever seen a TV station that showed a globe and fireworks as they left the air, the joke flops. Well, it's still fun to see.
With that, we head to “Music & Sound” and its five components. Designing Sound gives us a discussion from sound designer Gary Rydstrom. He focuses on the work done for the epic "street-crossing" scene during this five-minute and 38-second program. Mixing Demo starts with a 25-second introduction from Rydstrom and then lets you mix the segment in the elevator shaft where Buzz confronts Zurg. The 85-second snippet lets you activate dialogue, music and/or effects; you can play each on their own, combine them in various pairs, or play them all at once just like in the final film. It's not real mixing, since you can't alter the volume level of each element, but it's still fun.
Making the Songs runs three minutes, 25 seconds, and presents notes from Lasseter, composer Newman, Disney executive Schumacher, singer McLachlan, Riders In the Sky, and singer Robert Goulet. We also see some film clips and shots of the recording sessions in this short but fun piece.
For the ”Woody’s Roundup” Music Video, we again find Riders In The Sky lip-synching a tune. In this two-minute and 16-second clip, they strum along with the "Woody's Roundup" theme song and we also see a variety of movie scenes.
Jessie's Song Demo offers Newman's two-minute and 48-second track of the song. After hearing this, I'm really glad he didn't perform the tune in the final movie. He wrote a nice tune but his voice clearly doesn’t suit it.
The “Publicity” area gives us a few more pieces. Character Interview runs two minutes and five seconds. It presents a session between some slick schmoe and Woody and Buzz. It sounds like Tim Allen does Buzz, but I’m pretty sure another actor portrays Woody. It’s insubstantial but cute.
Two trailers fill a total of three minutes and 25 seconds. We get the 60-second "teaser" and the two-minute and 25-second "trailer #1". We also find four TV Commercials, each of which lasts a little more than 30 seconds.
In the Posters area, we locate 20 images. The disc films them for a 50-second collection. Some nice elements pop up here.
In Baseball Woody, we watch a 21-second clip in which Woody throws a baseball at the screen. I have no idea what purpose this clip serves; it’s very odd.
Phew – that finishes all the “Classic DVD” extras. Now we head to the Blu-ray’s Exclusive Bonus Features. These open with a four minute Sneak Peek for Toy Story 3. I don’t want to know anything about the new movie before I see it, so I skipped this preview. I wanted to mention its presence, though.
Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: International Space Station runs three minutes, 45 seconds. A companion to a program on the Toy Story Blu-ray, this shows an educational reel for NASA that mixes some animated segments with footage to communicate about the International Space Station. The piece features the voices of Tim Allen, John Ratzenberger and Wallace Shawn, so that adds class. This becomes a fun bonus.
Next comes a piece called Paths to Pixar – Technical Artists. It goes for four minutes, 24 seconds as it provides notes from longtime Pixar employees Rick Sayre, Ana Lacaze Jordan, Guido Quaroni, Mike Krummhoefener, Lisa Forssell, and Bill Reeves. They talk about why they got into the business and their experiences at the studio. The program gives us a short but interesting look at the inspirations for these artists.
Under Studio Stories, we locate three clips. These include “Toy Story 2 Sleep Deprivation Lab” (1:27), “Pinocchio” (2:16), and “The Movie Vanishes” (2:34). Across them, we hear from Dylan Brown, Doug Sweetland, Lindsey Collins, Oren Jacob, and Galyn Susman. Each clip combines crude animation with anecdotes about the production of TS2. These are all entertaining and enjoyable to hear.
Two more featurettes follow. Pixar’s Zoetrope goes for two minutes and includes notes from Pete Docter, project manager Nick Berry, and animator Warren Trezevant. They discuss a mechanical device used to demonstrate how animation works. This feels a little like an ad for a Disney parks display, but it offers a decent look at the creation of the device.
Finally, we get Celebrating Our Friend Joe Ranft. It runs 12 minutes, 47 seconds and features notes from Lasseter, Ranft, Docter, Stanton, story supervisor Dan Scanlon, and Up co-director Bob Peterson. They discuss the life and career of the late Pixar story man and voice actor. We get glimpses of Ranft’s early years and some animation he did in school, both of which add to the piece. It’s a warm look back at one of Pixar’s most important figures.
The disc opens with ads for Toy Story 3 and Beauty and the Beast. These also show up under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Princess and the Frog, James and the Giant Peach, Disney Parks, and Disney Movie Rewards.
A second disc offers a DVD Copy of Toy Story 2. This offers the same single-DVD version available on store shelves; this means it comes with the old audio commentary and features new to this Blu-ray but leaves off the stuff from the old DVDs. If you want to own Toy Story 2 but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable, it’s a good compromise, though I’d guess most fans already have a DVD of the film.
Note that the Blu-ray omits some of the extras from the 2005 SE DVD. It drops an isolated effects soundtrack as well as some story-related elements, a game, and a weird clip from a Japanese TV show.
A rare sequel that probably improves on its predecessor, Toy Story 2 is a winner in every way. The movie offers great humor, a fun tale, and real emotion to make it a lively and engaging piece. The Blu-ray presents absolutely excellent picture and audio with a long and informative set of extras. I love Toy Story 2 and heartily recommend this terrific Blu-ray. It’s a very worthwhile upgrade for fans who already have the prior DVD(s).
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of TOY STORY 2