Disney and Pixar made history in 1994 with their hit film, Toy Story. It was hailed as a milestone in cinematic achievement. Essentially a "Snow White" of it's day, where this entire feature length film was made with 1's and 0's in a computer. Computer generated imagery (CGI) had been in use before, including wowing audiences just a year earlier in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, but this was an entire film. Today's world looks at CGI as just another tool, and perhaps even crutch to productions that say on set, "that's okay, we'll fix it in post!" But that is also because animation and CGI has just become so seamless, in some movies we will never know the touch of a digital brush. It's arguable that Pixar has always been on the forefront of the quality of animation, but more importantly: storytelling.
The opening sequence of the new Pixar Film Toy Story 4 begins "9 years ago," when all of our favorite toys were still marked with "Andy" on their feet taking us back in the timeline to when we first met everyone in 1994. Yet, instead of trying to emulate the same animation style we saw in 1994, Pixar made parts of Toy Story 4 look so amazingly, it's hard to imagine everything we saw was digital. For example, remember Sid's dog chasing Buzz and Woody? There is a cat in this film that plays a similar role, but if you put a picture of the two animals side-by-side, you'll see in a flash what I'm talking about.
Even if you don't know who Woody or Buzz are, or if you don't care about the story and haven't seen the other films; go and see this movie simply for the brilliant work of the thousands of artists working long hours in the dark to make this beautiful to watch. There's even a moment in the movie where the characters stop to admire the view, and we're thankful too!
If you have been on the journey with Buzz, Woody and the gang, will you like this movie? Of course! Will it tug at your heartstrings? Well, let's be honest, this is a Pixar movie, so expect tears to be streaming down your cheek 5 minutes into it. But where else could these characters go? How do they grow after four movies? And I think this movie's ending seemed appropriate for that. I don't think it's going to please every fan, but for me, it was okay. Pixar took a risk with characters that are synonymous with their brand essence, but would we want any less to come from Pixar at this point?
I cannot finish this review without talking about the highlight of the film. Perhaps a genius Disney/Pixar marketing ploy, but the one who stole the show was a piece of trash, and we couldn't love him more. Forky is a new character, a toy made from a spork, some pipe cleaner and googly eyes. His purpose is to usher in our main character's new found purpose, but through a lovable plastic piece of trash.
In the end, come for the amazing artistry, stay for the fun and familiar friends, and leave with a warm heart.