What Else Ya Got? “Toy Story” & “Toy Story 2”

Conveniently timed Blu-ray reissues bring out the cynic in us, especially when it comes to a title that has already received the Special Edition treatment in the previous format of choice. But we must give credit where credit is due: the Blu-ray releases of “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” are so well worth the upgrade that we kind of hate them for it. Fine, damn it, take our money. Again.

The best thing about these Blu-ray/DVD combo sets is a small thing, but an important one: All of the new bonus features appear on both types of media. Some studios only give the goods to the Blu-ray converts, but Disney clearly realizes that for many families, buying the latest technology is not their top priority, so good for them for making all of the new extras available on both formats.

And man, are those extras fun. There are two new features created for these sets. “Paths to Pixar” highlights the efforts of people on the technical side and what it was that led them to doing what they do for a living, but the “Studio Stories” bits are the crown jewels. Various Pixar staffers tell stories about the studio’s early days (our favorite is the one involving the scooter races), put to simple but highly amusing black & white animation. Each movie also has its own sneak peek into the upcoming “Toy Story 3,” though the feature on the “Toy Story 2” set which highlights the new characters is the superior of the two.

Both sets feature newly recorded audio commentaries. The commentary for “Toy Story” features the Pixar All-Stars, namely John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter (Oscar winners all). The commentary for “Toy Story 2” includes Lasseter, Stanton and Lee Unkrich, who makes his directorial debut with “Toy Story 3.” There is a heartbreaking piece dedicated to Joe Ranft, who passed away during the production of “Cars” in 2005, but the one extra that will have people buzzing is the Black Friday piece, where Lasseter introduces the rough version of “Toy Story” that nearly killed Pixar. It’s fascinating to watch because, well, there’s no other way of saying it: it’s mean.

Lastly, the Blu-ray editions include all of the DVD extras from the 2005 reissue of the “Toy Story” movies, so anyone who bought those versions does not need to keep them. These sets were thoughtfully considered and well done, but that’s what one would expect from the best movie studio in Hollywood.

  

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“Toy Story 3” trailer + supplementary reading!

If you’re feeling a bit Pixarish after maybe getting a chance to see the new 3-D version of “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” wrapping up their two week run in theaters this week, you’re in luck. First of all, The House Next Door, something of a gold standard among brainy cinephile blogs, has just wrapped up Pixar Week, with some of the smartest cinegeeks around exploring the ins and outs of  the studio’s unprecedented run of ongoing artistic and commercial success. Bob says check it out.

That’s not all, the trailer for “Toy Story 3” has been making the rounds today, and we’ve got it. Like many of the folks highlighted by Christopher Campbell, I got a bit verklempt watching this. It’s also, of course, very funny. The usual Pixar one-two punch — works every time (apparently).
Toy Story 3 Trailer in HD

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Weekend box office: “Zombieland” to lift horror comedy curse, apparently

zombieland-movie-image-woody-harrelson-jesse-eisenberg-abigail-breslin-emma-stone

There was a time — I think it was, I don’t know, two weeks ago — when horror comedies were supposed to be, now and forever, box office poison. “Too funny to be scary and too scary to be funny” was the not so intelligent line. Such was the Hollywood conventional wisdom, until someone went and made a horror comedy that struck a chord.

So, apparently the peanut butter of horror can be blended with the chocolate of comedy if you have lots of action and sufficient gore, the trailer for the movie in question is funny enough that audiences will be sold on it as a more or less straight comedy…and, oh yeah, almost everybody who can stomach seems to love it. Such certainly seems to be the case with “Zombieland.” The flick, which features indie stars Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin, is eliciting excitement both from industry types and critics who have graced it with an 89% “Fresh” Rotten Tomatoes rating (just two points shy of 2004’s instant zombie comedy classic, “Shaun of the Dead.”)

Still, for yours truly who loves comedy horror but has a well documented issue with gore, particularly of the zombie variety, this means a probable long period of movie procrastination followed by a small bonanza for our nation’s distillers. For top-billed costar Woody Harrelson, though, it means a comeback. Jolly Carl DiOrio of THR and Andrew Stewart of Variety guess that it will gross somewhere around $20-$25 million or perhaps further north in over 3,000 theaters. If it wasn’t such a busy weekend, I might think it could do even better.

As for the number two spot, I gather most of the prognosticators expect yet another very good weekend for the animated family hit, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” but after that, the playing field gets a bit crowded. For one thing, Pixar is making things interesting with 3-D redoes of “Toy Story,” and “Toy Story 2” being released as a double feature. It’s a pretty awesome package of family entertainment and I could see it cutting into this weekend’s “Meatballs” take.

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Dude, Where’s My Oscar? Bullz-Eye revisits recent Academy Award “mistakes”

Dude, Where's My Oscar?

There are times when we swear that “Entertainment Weekly” has either bugged our office or is tapping into our conference calls. Numerous pieces of ours wind up on their pages at almost the exact same time, be it a list of the best sequels, cinematic stoners, or our long-gestating piece on the Bullz-Eye Fantasy Band Draft, which will drop later this year. They’ve even named their hot/not meter “The Bullseye.” Hmmm.

And sure enough, they scooped us once again, when they put the top awards from various Academy Awards results to a new vote, to see how the current Academy would fix the previous generation’s “mistakes.” We’ve been throwing that idea around for over a year, and just when we begin to put pen to paper: boom! — they beat us to the punch. We’re not at all surprised that they saw the appeal in such a topic; every year there is at least one head-scratching moment, one that usually owes more to awarding a long-overdue actor for their overall body of work than for the performance at hand (ahem, Al Pacino, “Scent of a Woman”). Enter Bullz-Eye, Mighty Mouse-style, to save the day and make sure justice is served. We’ve examined recent Academy Award winners and their competitors, and we found a few, um, irregularities. Revisionist history begins now.

Oscar Snubs

Elaine Benes summed up our feelings for “The English Patient” as well as anyone. Actually, that’s a tad unfair; we didn’t think “Patient” was awful, just long and, in the end, anti-climactic. Without Juliette Binoche carrying her co-stars from start to finish (her Oscar, unlike this one, was well deserved), we wonder if “Patient” would have received half the praise that it did. Then there’s “Fargo,” which featured invaluable contributions from its leads, the supporting cast, and even the characters who were only in a scene or two (Marge Gunderson’s Japanese high school classmate had us in tears). It’s funny, shocking, coy, and best of all, normal, an expertly crafted movie all the way around. Guess the Academy wasn’t quite ready for the Coen brothers yet.

Oscar Snubs

To be fair, this one isn’t a staff pick; it’s mine and mine alone. My colleague Jason Zingale loved “Crash,” as did most people. I, however, loathed it like no movie I’ve seen since “Shrek.” The manner in which people would instantly spew the most hateful, ignorant nonsense in scene after scene was just unbearable, and I wanted to throttle Sandra Bullock’s ridiculously underwritten shrew of a character. Granted, “Brokeback Mountain” is not a perfect movie by any stretch, but I’ll take it over “Crash” any day of the week and twice on Sunday for the sheer fact that it didn’t try to beat me into a coma about what a racist pig I am. Fuck you, Paul Haggis.

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