Friday, 9 April 2010

You've got a friend in HD

Fifteen years ago if you asked me what the best film in existence was I probably would have said Toy Story without hesitation. Fifteen years is a long time, and the transition from the tender age of 10 isn't the easiest of experiences for anyone, and left me pretty jaded and cynical, so it was with great trepidation that I watched Toy Story on Blu-Ray.

As a child I couldn't quite grasp how much hard work had been put into creating it, or the impact it would have not only on cinema but also on my other love of the time; videogames. At the age of 10 I was sat on the edge of my seat staring up at the screen wishing that I could play a game that looked this amazing, every game that I played from that point onwards would be compared in my mind to Pixar's wonderful creation, little did I realise I wouldn't be the only person doing this. I recall reading a review for Super Mario 64 that claimed it looked as good as Toy Story, an over-excited exaggeration for sure, but one that would be made often thanks to the benchmark in CGI that had been set. Now, all these years on, I found myself in a situation I couldn't have possibly imagined back when I was 10; watching the film on Blu-Ray using a console that has the potential to play games with graphics that far exceed the old benchmark, and yet somehow it is still a good looking film. Amazingly the translation to Blu-Ray has been far kinder than I thought it would be, clearly there were some very detailed textures that my worn out old VHS just wasn't man enough to produce along with beautiful vibrant colours. The stand-out example for me was the detail on Mr Potato Head, who actually has the exact same texture as his real world toy counter part, from the bobbly plastic of the main body to the shiny material of the accessories... and boy is this description getting weird! Its not all bobbly potatoes and shiny moustaches though, there are a few flaws such as muddy textures in some places, although all of these are because of technical limitations of the time and not due to the high-def transfer.

As everyone who has enjoyed Toy Story knows there's a lot more to any good film than just fancy visuals and the Blu-Ray conversion certainly doesn't disappoint in this respect. Audio is presented in DTS 6.1 and sounds nothing short of amazing, the voices and music are crystal clear and the surround sound is surprisingly well utilised. The actual dialogue is as good now as it was back in '95, and is a perfect example of a film that actually lives up to the old cliché of being 'fun for the whole family'. The disc also features a whole bunch of exclusive new features, as well as all of those previously featured on the DVD release of the film, the best of these by far is the 'Black Friday' featurette which presents us with the Toy Story that could have been. This little documentary presents the edgier angle that was originally planned for the film. It's fascinating to see Woody as a complete jerk but, while this delve into a 'what if' world was interesting, by the end it was impossible not to leave feeling relieved that cooler heads prevailed in the end.

Toy Story represents an important moment in cinematic history, and if you're looking to re-experience the magic, or have children of your own who have yet to see this masterpiece I'd certainly recommend picking up this definitive version of the film.

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