Monday, 15 April 2013

Film Review | Toy Story (1995)

It's in no way an understatement to say that Toy Story is a cinematic milestone: one of the most important films ever made. It transformed the landscape of animated cinema forever and managed to do so slap-bang in the middle of the Disney Renaissance, one of the most critically and commercially successful periods for the animation giant. But whilst being a watershed moment in CGI, eighteen years after its release Toy Story still feels as fresh, vibrant and masterfully crafted as it did in 1995.

Toy Story perfects that synthesis of performance, direction and art so rarely seen and so precious when it happens. The vocal performances consummately fit their animated counterparts without fault. Both Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Woody and Buzz Lightyear respectively cease to be actors, inhabiting their characters absolutely and sublimely. The chemistry between the two is pure cinematic gold, making the journey the two toys make from rivals to odd couple to double act an intoxicating mix of childhood fantasy and raw authenticity. The supporting characters too are fleshed out superbly, their voices expertly cast and each as entertaining as the next.

The script is spot on, with joke after joke hitting the mark. Toy Story effortlessly blends wordplay with visual humour, as well as providing what is now seen as a Pixar trademark - comedy that will entertain the kids, but will also draw genuine laughs from the adults. There are numerous subtle references and in-jokes littered throughout, and each is a winner.

The directorial craft from John Lasseter is consistently stunning. Shot after shot shows a passion and gift for storytelling influenced by some of the finest cinema ever made. Within Toy Story you'll find sequences of high emotion, heart-pounding action and unsettling horror, underpinned by one of the best buddy stories ever told. It's also to Pixar's credit that, nearly two decades on, the animation within their debut feature is still just as impressive as ever, the design of their characters effortlessly retaining a timeless yet contemporary quality.

Perhaps Toy Story's finest achievement of all is its transcendence of both genre and target audience. To describe it simply as a "children's film" or an "animated adventure" is to ignore its universal appeal and broad spectrum of influence and ambition. It's a film which has earned its place in cinematic history but, most importantly of all, it's a film which provides pure enjoyment through comprehensively refined cinema. Simply put, Toy Story is flawless.


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