Pixar’s 1995 milestone and its 1999 sequel aren’t the first computer-animated films to be converted to the newly-popular 3D format; “Battle for Terra,” released earlier this year, was originally made in flat screen and later altered for theatrical release. But few people saw it—the sci-fi flick bombed—so this double-feature reissue will probably be most viewers’ introduction to the process. They should be pleasantly impressed.
The movies, of course, retain their charm. It’s difficult to believe today, when animated pictures juggle material for both children and adults as a matter of course, but these were among the first to do so with such dexterity. And the mixture of action and humor proves as irresistible as ever. Of course the technology has progressed significantly in the past decade, and the visuals can sometimes look a bit clunky by the highest modern standards, but they remain colorful and witty.
As to the conversion, the “Toy Story” movies weren’t produced with 3D moments in mind, and so the effects don’t jump out at you as is often the case in the more recent models. One expects that “Toy Story 3,” to be released next year, will be more blatant in that regard. But one hopes not; it’s when the process is employed most subtly—in “Up,” for instance, or “Coraline”—that it carries the greatest delight. In any case, the reprocessing literally adds another visual dimension to the films without diluting their quality.
At over three hours—with a ten-minute intermission between them—the two “Toy Story” movies may prove a bit of an endurance test for some youngsters. But they’ll probably be so familiar with them already that the experience will be like an extended playdate with some old friends. And their parents will enjoy making their reacquaintance, too.