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Toy Story 3
Genre Animation
Year: 2010

Toy Story 3 completes the groundbreaking Pixar Toy Story trilogy 11 years after Toy Story 2 in Real 3D. It's been worth the wait... as Toy Story 3 throws fourteen new characters into the toy box, ups the stakes for the gang and presents another near-perfect animated adventure. The original voice cast of Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Wallace Shawn (Rex), John Ratzenberger (Hamm) and Estelle Harris (Mrs. Potato Head) are back!

It feels like it's been more like a year or two than a decade since we saw Buzz Lightyear taking on the evil Zorg. Well, it's onto new things in Toy Story 3 as Andy has aged with the film and ready to head off to college. There's plenty of nostalgia that goes with his prized possessions, but it's time to stash the memories away in the attic. Events take a turn and it's not long before Woody, Buzz, Barbie and the rest of Andy's toys land up in Sunnyside, a daycare centre.

Toy Story 3 had to be bigger, bolder and funnier than its predecessors, which is probably why it took Pixar so long to refine part three according to their high standards. Most sequels follow this formula, delivering more of the same with a bigger budget and more time constraints. This is not the same for Toy Story 3, which looks and feels like it's been in production all those years.

The story manages to swirl around several characters, while introducing new toys and maintaining a strong focus on entertainment without losing control. There's never really a dull moment with such superb storytelling from Michael Arndt, John Lasseter,Andrew Stanton and director, Lee Unkrich as Woody plans a rescue "round-up", Buzz talks Spanish and the creepy well-groomed Ken doll showcases his wardrobe for Barbie.

Disney/Pixar have managed to manufacture yet another winning classic in Toy Story 3. While there's a consistency between Toy Story 2 and 3 in terms of characters, the genre mix is slightly more focused on action/adventure than comedy. Toy Story 2 involved some thrilling moments of mild peril, but Toy Story 3 takes a page from Small Soldiers by elevating the adventure to the next level with more thrills, twists and turns to keep you locked in. The whole production seems to have been forged with 'subtlety' as its buzz word. The toys are gimmicky enough and there's no point in drawing attention to the medium of 3D. The eco-friendly message isn't slapped in your face and also doesn't give away the film's true age.

Perhaps the filmmakers realised that they'd need to ensure the film's longevity by keeping it as timeless as possible. Playing down the 3D gimmickry and focus on hot topic trends such as the worlds current slant towards organic and green living allows Toy Story 3 the ability to tap into a timeless quality that gives it about 50 years of scope and relevance. There aren't any objects flying at you from the screen and the subtext message of recycling makes its point without being preachy. The comedy has also been downplayed without as many toy reference jokes as in Toy Story 2. This makes the story amusing at times, but the emphasis has shifted from fun and laugh-out-loud moments to create a rich, clean and creative family film for everyone.

Toy Story 3 delivers wholehearted traditional Disney values of honour, teamwork, family, unity, loyalty and bravery. There are of course some scary moments... that lazy eyed baby and Ken doll's Keaton persona come to mind, but they're fleeting and simply echo the darker side of the first Toy Story. The third installment doesn't rely on humans as much as Toy Story 2 did with Wayne Knight as the chicken man. Toy Story 3 is more about the toys, using humans as book ends to introduce and wave farewell to the characters. It's one of those films that has the ability to warm your heart and even bring a few tears to the surface... but that's the magic of this franchise - they're just toys!

The CGI and technical wizardry is just as phenomenal as Toy Story 2 and the textures are more convincing than ever. The 3D technology is the new kid on the block and the animators use it to create a heightened sense of atmopshere, environment and reality rather than simply making things stand out. The soundtrack includes a track from the Gipsy Kings and embodies a warm, mellow feel, ranging from sad nostalgia to fun, uplifting and friendly songs.

The real mastery behind Toy Story 3 is that it manages to appeal to everyone. There are of course those that stubbornly refuse to accept animation as a genuine form of mature cinema-going entertainment. However, its charms will arrest the attention of just about everyone else. Jeremy Mansfield had the pleasure of voicing the Chatter Telephone, although it seems as though this was done in such a way to localise the film to each country/region. While the original voice cast was fattened up with some familiar Hollywood voices from the past including: Michael Keaton as Ken, Ned Beatty as Lotso, Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants, Jeff Garlin as Buttercup, Bonnie Hunt as Dolly, Whoopi Goldberg as Stretch and Richard Kind as Bookworm.

All in all, Toy Story 3 has been well worth the wait and is everything you could have wished for and more... It's rare for a sequel to out-perform the original and it's even stranger for a trilogy to go from good to excellent to near-perfection. There's very little one can say to diminish the overall impact of Toy Story 3... it's just brilliant, a movie of the week, movie of the season and possibly the best animated feature of the decade right up there with Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Up and WALL-E! While Toy Story 3 does benefit from being screened in 3D, it's optimum but not essential.

The bottom line: Brilliant.

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