Toy Story 3

It's easy to forget the fact that Pixar's first full-
length movie, Toy Story, is just 16 years old. It takes most people a lifetime to achieve greatness
- and some never achieve it - but the gents at Pixar started with a bang and have remained at the top of their game ever since. Which other movie studio can present a 100% fresh resume?

In 1995, I was a 10-year old boy with a vivid imagination that loved to play with his toys
(come to think of it, little has changed). As such, I could easily relate to Andy, the human protagonist of the first Toy Story. Loveable characters with perfect voice actors, an engaging story and a top soundtrack made for a superb cinematic treat.
I saw it on the silver screen, in a long out-of-business cinema (in Bruges, no less), and have since only experienced it on VHS. Even this pan&scan, washed-out, butchered version could not taint the pure joy of watching director John Lasseter's first outing.

Four years later, we got Toy Story 2. A veritable 'equal' (as in : "a sequel that's just as good as the first one"), this second helping of Woody, Buzz and company nicely expanded the story and introduced us to some new characters. I only saw it once, so I can't honestly comment on its highlights. But rest assured, this is one follow-up you can't afford to miss.

I did miss Toy Story 3 in cinemas. Being aware of Pixar's "all crackers, no slackers" track record, I bought the Blu-ray without thinking twice about it. A good sequel may be rare, a good threequel is even harder to come by. On the top of my head, there's Back to the Future III, The Godfather III (yes, I will defend Sofia Coppola) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But The Last Crusade may be the only one that's the best of its respective series. Although all movies need a few years to ripen so they can be valued and looked at in the appropriate perspective, Toy Story 3 may very well end up to be the highlight of the franchise.

I dare say Pixar - with ten masterpieces under their belt - makes movies. It has become redundant to call them "animated features", because their output possesses more heart and soul than most non-animated films.

Toy Story 3 has everything you could want about a movie. It's an epic telling of friendship and loyalty, of loss and tragedy, of commitment and dedication, of betrayal and comeuppance. It makes you think about the relativity of life, the unbearable lightness of being and our tendency of being wasteful. The ending, though bittersweet, is a perfectly fitting conclusion to the trilogy. Tissues aplenty are a necessity. Don't come empty handed.

Toy Story 3 is nothing short of a wonder. It will thrill, dazzle and astound you. But most of all, it will move you.

Julian De Backer, 18 June 2011