A fresh look at the two films only reaffirms what fresh, lively and imaginative creations they are.
A fresh look at the two “Toy Story” films, which are being released today as a double bill in 3D for a two-week engagement, only reaffirms what fresh, lively and imaginative creations they are.The films – first released in 1995 and 1999, respectively – are so effective in 3D, they look as though they were designed for the format. To emphasize the attributes of computer animation, director John Lasseter and his collaborators composed “Toy Story” to emphasize depth perception and dramatic movement well beyond what was the norm in conventionally animated films, which tended to feature a flatter canvas. There are even a few shots – animals virtually attacking the “lens,” architectural constructions that feature objects in the extreme foreground and background – that might have been called pandering to 3D had the pictures been made with the process in mind. How well the duo are suited to 3D comes as a pleasant surprise. I had always gone along with the prevailing view that “Toy Story 2” was slightly better than its predecessor. Seeing them together reversed my opinion. Whereas “2” benefits from the introduction of cowgirl Jessie and such wonderful conceits as putting Buzz Lightyear on the toy store shelf along with his hundreds of identical brethren, “1” prevails in the end due to its more unified narrative; by contrast, “2,” for all its amusing invention, dawdles for a while before charging into the action climax. Still, it’s splitting hairs. A second thought occurs: After passing the two-hour point of watching the movies together, perhaps enough of a good thing is enough. Will little kids, accustomed to animated films that generally run 90 minutes or less, easily sit through a double bill? If the “Toy Story” enhancements fulfill Disney’s monetary dreams, there is no doubt that similar treatment of the other Pixar films, and some of Disney’s as well, will follow. It’s easy to imagine “Monsters, Inc.,” with its roller-coaster conveyer belts, and “The Incredibles” and “Cars,” with their heavy action, being particularly effective in the format. (For a more complete analysis of the “Toy Story” duo, Pixar and 3D, see the Oct. 5-11 edition of weekly Variety.)