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Saturday, 10 September 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: Toy Story 2, BBC1 (1999)

Toy Story 2
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Anne Potts
Genre: Animation
Studio: Disney & Pixar

Plot: Woody is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWiggin, leaving Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang to try to rescue him. But when Woody discovers that he's actually a valuable collectable from a once-popular TV show called ''Woody's Roundup'' & is reunited with his horse Bullseye, Jessie the yodelling cowgirl & her faithful sidekick, Stinky Pete the prospector, he doesn't want to leave

'It's Not Often Sequels Surpass The Original Movie, But Toy Story 2 Is One Exception'

Toy Story 2 has got to be on the long line of movie sequels that triumph the prequel, by a long margin. Not even Aladdin - as hugely popular a movie as it was and Monster's Inc- could outdo the quality of Toy Story when it came to its follow-ups. Aladdin: The Return of Jafar was the official sequel to the first movie - minus Robin Williams, and that film didn't do particularly well. Monster's Inc is a great movie, but Billy Crystal and John Goodman can't out-rival Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. The key to this consistency of success lies in 3 reasons: a) retaining a strong voice-over line-up, b) having an even better and stronger plot-line and narrative than previously before but this time in Toy Story 2 and c) the sequel having so much more to offer in terms of memorable moments and scenes. 

This movie is so exceedingly and beyond good and as impressive as the first film, it leaves you wanting more. In fact, Toy Story 2 is so brilliant, one could argue this movie is so perfect and without any flaws, whatsoever. 

When Woody is kidnapped by a toy collector (Wayne Knight) and ends up alongside the likes of cowgirl Jessie and Stinky Pete, he later discovers more about his past life, such as that he was once a TV celebrity, before he met up with Buzz Lightyear and co. At the same time, Buzz & his pals attempt to rescue Woody, whilst encountering their share of hurdles that they have to overcome. 

The quality of the voice-acting is second to none and in Tom Hanks, Tim Allen as well as other supporting actors in Wayne Knight, Kelsey Grammar, John Ratzenberger etc all brought their characters to life and in being able to convey and express their personalities so well. But it's not just depth that the characters have in abundance, but also in the story telling itself, which is not only excellently written but it is also funny too. The idea of having Woody - the so-called main protagonist- being stolen by a toy collector & Buzz and the rest of the gang going out of their depths and beyond to rescue him, was terrific. It definitely gave this film something to work with as a more than substantial plot- line. The fact that Disney went all out to carve out a much more developed story than in the first movie, and thus delving a little more deeper in Woody's characterisation through his past further shows why Toy Story 2 was so well-received by many. Whereas Toy Story was about Buzz Lightyear and of him being accepted by Woody, here the main story arc is centered around Woody himself, who is given the ultimate choice of whether or not to go down a path where he will end up in a toy museum.... and lose his friends such as Buzz. Or to return home where he belongs to Andy and to Buzz and co. Unlike other Disney sequels, the new characters especially - but for turncoat, Stinky Pete, are as equally charming as the main characters and provide that extra source of inspiration for the movie. 

The humour in this film is also great; & none more so exemplified in one of the best moments during a parody of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi with Buzz Lightyear having a stand-off against one of the other characters.

The CGI effects are spectacular and its visual style is a joy to behold, right from the outset, I might be wrong but the original Toy Story was Disney's first ever CGI animated movie and Toy Story 2 looks fantastic and to this day is still memorising, 17 years on & it held up ever so well. It touches on the emotional arc of the story and of Woody's journey in ways that make you emphasise with him. The poignant and sad moments were ever so well conceived, without coming across as being saccharine and vomit-inducing at the same time. I also found it interesting when the film touched upon a moment where one of the characters mentioned how and when Andy becomes older, there will come a time where he will stop playing with Woody and perhaps stop caring about him. Which worries Woody. It implies that there comes a time when people will move on in life: it's just as much about whether or not the other person is ready to accept this decision and to do the same thing. 

Final Verdict:

Toy Story 2 is a sequel that deservedly lives up to everything a movie sequel should offer to audiences, and more. It has richness and texture throughout in all departments: from the striking CGI visuals to the ever so engrossing-yet impressive story. 

As much as people rave on about the animation quality and CGI effects, as well as the standard of voice acting in Toy Story 2, what also gives this movie its due is how exceedingly great the narrative is. It is not complex - and yet it produces lots of funny, amusing, interesting as well as heartfelt scenes. 

You feel for the characters, especially for Jessie and Woody as they go through their ups and downs, but also coming together and succeeding in the end, along with Buzz Lightyear. Toy Story was the first Disney/Pixar movie that really showed off what they could do, from a technological aspect but for say, UP, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, arguably their latter efforts lack the magic and spark that truly defines Toy Story 2, Disney's Aladdin, Peter Pan, Snow White etc as Disney's oldest and greatest cinematic achievements. 

This movie can touch one's heart, without being too overly sentimental and yet as a movie on its own merits, Toy Story 2 is also one of the finest offerings ever that is just perfect in every single way imaginable. 


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