Tuesday, 20 July 2010
REVIEW: Toy Story 3
Whatever bad things I said about the attic, I take them all back now
Cinema has generally spat in the face of the saying great things come in three's. We've got The Godfather Part 3, Superman 3, Batman Forever, Army Of Darkness, Spider-man 3, X-Men 3, The Matrix Revolutions, Return Of The Jedi, Alien 3, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines and of course Bring it On: All or nothing. Perhaps by a third movie it becomes impossible not to repeat yourself and all the ground to be covered has simply been covered and the trusty corporate mantra if you can't do it better, do it bigger comes into play. And when this happens, it's over before its begun.
But this is Pixar we're talking about, and the biggest game changers in cinema since Walt Disney aren't about to be bound by any cinematic ghost stories or supposed curses. They are near ridiculous in their flawlessness of late, making films of such rich quality that you'd submit them up against anything Disney ever did and frankly against almost anything anyone ever did. And Toy Story 3 is certainly no exception to that, in fact its one of the best films they've ever made. Combining they're trusty immense emotional punch with fierce excitement and a dark, dark tone (that repeatedly took my by surprise and will you to, particularly if you see it with any kind of kids) to make it not only outstanding, but something we haven't seen before even within the Toy Story franchise. Sure we've seen it do scary, we've seen it do searing heartbreak, but somehow this one melds all the best things about previous installments and brings all together gloriously, so while the parts that make the whole are pieces we've seen before, the whole itself ends up being an entirely new, wonderful experience and a very fitting conclusion to what just might be the best trilogy hollywood has ever produced.
But most importantly they toned Joan Cusack down as Jessie, who to put it politely could be quite ear-wrenchingly irritating in the past, but emerges here a semi-likable presence, which as far as I'm concerned is a big win. The new additions work a treat, with antagonist Lotso (Ned Beatty) being the darkest character the franchise has yet to produce, but in that true Pixar method, he's given the sufficient material to be more then just a rent-a-villain, and is a sympathetic and fully rounded even in his evil ways. Some excellent work from Ned Beatty there. Ditto from Michael Keaton as a Ken Doll, who just short of steals the entire movie as the metro-sexual Barbie accessory. Everyone else is as reliable and effective as they have been before, and do well to create a world of rich, believable and thoroughly supportable characters.
But I think its how well Pixar handles the emotional material that makes them such great film-makers. It never feels trite, or manipulative. It earns its your investment and works it in the richest way possible, and so when bad stuff happens to these characters we care, and a scene in the final act of Toy Story 3, which I don't want to spoil because, which is simultaneously darker and more heart-breaking then anything I can remember seeing in a good long while, works so well precisely because of that earned emotional investment. Toy Story 3 is pretty much the perfect adventure movie, precisely because its not afraid to have loss and sadness as such an integral part of its dialogue. It explores the wonders and innocence of childhood, yet acknowledges that it must be lost. In a funny way it puts the toys in the position of the parents, watching frozen in time whilst their kids outgrow them. This film is in many ways about accepting this rather then fighting it, which is an admirable position to take.
Yet again, Pixar outdoes itself, creating yet another film that deserves the heaps of praise it has received.