BY THOMAS WOOD
Thirty years ago, animated movies were pretty limited. There were obviously movies with excellent 2D animation, many of which were produced by Disney. Some movies used less mainstream forms of animation, such as claymation or rotoscoping. However, Pixar made a move in 1995 that would forever change the course of animation as a whole. They made Toy Story, the first full-length movie to feature exclusively computer-rendered 3D animation. While this was certainly impressive at the time, 3D animation has grown to be the standard for many movie connoisseurs. So, in a climate of futuristic animation, how does Toy Story hold up?
Our movie stars Woody, a cowboy doll who’s devoted to making Andy, the kid he belongs to, happy. Woody is the leader of the toy pack, illustrated in the way he calls the toys to meetings and such. This hierarchy goes unruptured until Andy’s birthday when the toys meet to discuss the ramifications of a new toy joining them. The little green army men use a toy radio to go on a recon mission in what turns out to be an extremely funny moment. Near the end of the present opening sequence, Andy opens a present containing a Buzz Lightyear action figure. This quickly spirals out of control.
When Buzz is introduced to Andy’s room, he thinks it’s a foreign planet that he must explore. The toys quickly gravitate towards Buzz, mainly because he’s shiny and new. All except for Woody, who quickly becomes jealous of all the attention Buzz is getting. After all, Woody has always been the leader. A quick montage ensues showing Andy’s change in attitude towards Woody. His once cowboy-themed bedding turns spaceman themed, and the posters on his walls change. During play sessions, Woody is often left in the dust in exchange for the newer Buzz. Woody’s fall from grace is really sad to see since he didn’t initially do anything to deserve it. We see Woody get sadder and sadder as his position as leader of the toys gets taken from him.
This is until one day when Andy takes the two in the car. While stopped at a gas station, a fight breaks out between Woody and Buzz, ending with the two of them being thrown out of the car and stranded without Andy. Unbeknownst to the two of them, they’ll have to work together to reclaim their spots in Andy’s toy chest.
Their journey begins at the local arcade: Pizza Planet. They end up inside the claw machine, where nasty neighbor kid Sid just so happens to show up. He wins the two from the claw machine and takes them home. This is good and bad for our protagonists. On one hand, Sid’s house is quite literally ten feet from Andy’s house. On the other, it’s revealed that Sid often does Frankenstein-esque experiments with toys for his sick pleasure. Buzz and Woody have to work together to escape Sid’s house.
The scenes that follow are amazing. Seeing Buzz realize that he can’t fly is an interesting change of plans; we get to see Buzz fall from grace while Woody is forced to take the lead. I love the bonding that comes between Woody and Buzz, especially during the final scene. Sid has strapped Buzz to a firework rocket and plans on sending him to space. However, this plan is thwarted by Woody and the Frankenstein toys when they show Sid they’re alive and likely scar him for life. Woody and Buzz are finally allowed to escape and run home, where Andy finds them right before moving day.
All in all, Toy Story is an excellent movie. Being the first fully 3D animated movie, you’d expect more hitches, but the animation is almost completely smooth and the models look great. One of the very few issues is the infamous dog in Sid’s house. It’s said that this dog was animated with the powers of NASA supercomputers at the time, yet it still ended up looking only vaguely doglike. However, this is likely my only gripe with the film. For its time, the animation is extremely futuristic, and if this is the movie that sprung Pixar into fame, it’s clear to see why. The development of Buzz and Woody’s relationship makes you feel like they truly have to become friends to face adversity; the friendship isn’t rushed. Overall, Toy Story is an incredible movie for its time, and it still holds up by modern standards.
Categories: Entertainment, Opinion
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