Thursday, July 15, 2010

Toy Story 3

After watching Toy Story 3 in 4D, I'm a bit shellshocked.

It's not so much the fourth dimension (which consists of a cloud of what smells like burnt brake pads, wafted into the cinema five minutes in, a squirt of water half way through and some soap bubbles during the finale), as the plot, which turns out to be as emotionally battering as any story about relinquishing childhood can be. I wonder if Pixar's mission is to smuggle in as many of these darkly freighted experiences as possible, concealed beneath a false flag of a film that's, y'know, for kids.

Before the tear-jerking ending, there's a lot of riffing on Hollywood genre films, and every Fisher-Price toy from my toddlerhood seems to make an appearance. I do wonder, though, whether children watching this will get any of the references to these antique playthings; are they things that come with any familarity to the modern child, or are they as meaningful as a spinning top or a diablo were to me at the age of six?

I don't want to detail the plot too much; it's not as if there's a deep psycho-sexual twist in the third act that I'd give away by doing so, but it's probably better viewed without any awareness of what's approaching. That's not to say that it isn't predictable, but it's satisfying in the way that everything clicks together.

What won't spoil the surprise for anyone is noting how technology has improved since the first Toy Story. Humans still look a little inhuman (shades of the Polar Express) but they're now capable of doing hair properly (compare the slow moving dog of 3 vs the overly smooth animal from 1). Textures look more gritty than before (as befits toys that must be ten years older) and there's even a cameo appearance by one of Studio Ghibli's creations - but I'll leave that to you to spot.

That's enough fourth-dimensional beauty for me though. The new Charles Stross arrived in Hong Kong today, so you can forget about soap bubbles - I'm going to be reading about things from Dimension Terror!!!!


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