Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Toys Are Back In Town

Toy Story 3D 2010 US
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Screening at UK cinemas now

Slight spoilers!

I haven't seen many of the Pixar movies but I usually quite like the ones I have managed to get to watch. Loved the first two Toy Story movies, really liked the first and thirds Shreks (although not enough to brave the fourth one and thought the second one was awful) and had a blast with both The Incredibles and Monsters VS Aliens... so I was much surprised to find myself struggling to stay interested in Toy Story 3D when I finally got to see it.

It’s not that it’s a terrible movie or anything like that... it’s a very competently made movie, although it has to be said I’m not the best judge of modern animated films. It’s just that it’s not that great either and after the first two in the franchise, well I was expecting some wonderful things in this one... not the simplistic blandness on show in this third installment.

Now I was told this one was a real tearjerker of a movie so I was a little bit trepidatious of going to see this one because, quite frankly - and I think it might be something to do with my age - when anything the least sentimental comes up in a movie... I’m a cryer! Blade Runner gets me leaking my precious salty body fluids everytime. That bit in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when the kids come running into the village at the end... complete meltdown. The Third Man when... oh, you get the picture anyway... sentimental movies make me cry buckets (and when I do that I tend to get a little pail). So I was surprised that there wasn’t actually too much in this new movie to do that. Sure the scene where Andy gives away what’s left of his toys (characters like Bo Peep and Etch-A-Sketch didn’t make it into this movie) tugs a little at the heart strings and I may have shed a tear or two... but honestly, nothing like what I did when that cowgirl action figure sang that tragic song in the second movie... that one really got me good!

I don’t know why, but I had no investment in the characters in this one... which is essentially a prison break movie. Everything seemed so dull and lifeless on the ideas front that I found myself just wanting it to end quickly by about the halfway mark. It didn’t really move me until those last scenes with Andy and that’s probably way too late to be of any good to anyone.

I think the thing about the first two movies is that, while they are obviously aimed at kids, they were also aimed at the parents and guardians of those kids and so the jokes and ideas worked on more than one level... which seems to be an essential ingredient of the Pixar movies as far as I can make out. This one doesn’t have any other levels to it... it’s just for kids it seems to me and maybe that’s why I had trouble bonding with the movie, which is something a film going for that kind of emotional pull needs to do with its audience...

I’ve clearly stopped becoming the audience.

And as for the novelty, 3D element! I like 3D, I really do... but I hate the way that companies are now trying to push this format on to us so they can use it to resell their more recent back catalogue to us again in another format after we’ve already bought the first one (a ploy which they are similarly trying with the dreaded Blu-Ray... but just don’t get me started on that issue!). The 3D in this movie was barely noticeable and completely unnecessary in my view... it added absolutely nothing to it that I could see. It was just kinda distracting on the odd occasion and I almost wish I’d gone to see the 2D version. I think if they’re going to try, yet again, to get people interested in 3D then they should save it for special event movies... not try and bring everything out in the format and let us get bored with it even quicker.

But I’m off track here so I’ll just snag a ride in the back of a boxcar and say that if you liked the other two movies in the series and you’re thinking of going to see this... just know that it’s the weakest in the franchise and that the DVD release will probably do as good a trick if you want to keep your young’uns entertained.

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