This is not exactly a review of the film Toy Story 3, I feel I would need to see it at least twice more to really appreciate everything that is going on and everything that is simply wonderful about it. And it IS wonderful. In fact it is so absorbing that time evaporates and it is 10pm and you have to come back to the reality of a soulless grey Odeon cinema on a wet Monday night in Taunton. Travelling home, albeit only one junction, on a motorway awash with spray from huge articulated delivery lorries, I yearned to be back in Toy Story land. There the sun always shines on the bright, shiny people and even the ‘bad guys’ have a back story that tries to melt your heart.
However, from the moment the short supporting feature started (a very clever cartoon comic battle between night and day) and I popped on the fabulous ‘Joe 90’ type 3D specs I felt unexpectedly nostalgic. Years of work and millions of pounds spent on state of the art animation and my immediate response was one of familiarity. My previous experience of watching a film in 3D involved an anxiety inducing range of bugs, weapons and water hurtling towards my face from the screen, and one or two of the advertisements before Toy Story had the same effect. I don’t really enjoy the sensation of flinching in my cinema seat and letting out mild expletives. However, the main feature itself is so subtly worked that the characters just seem to exist in their own space, as if you could literally reach out and put your arms around them, or in the case of Mr Potato Head (I mustn’t spoil things for those that have yet to see the film, but the tortilla moment is genius!) pick him up and take him home.
I am hoping that people reading this blog will be familiar with the wonderful toy that was Viewmaster, a device invented originally to offer my parent’s generation the opportunity to see tourist attractions in ‘stereo’. It quickly became the must have toy of the 60’s and 70’s, with the packets of paper disks displayed like PC games are now, with new releases of the fairly rudimentary 3D versions of a favourite Disney film, TV cartoons and American shows as eagerly awaited as some Nintendo or PS3 games are now. I remember my favourite being ‘Paulus the Wood Gnome’ who lived in a tree trunk, resembled Popeye in red dungarees, and was menaced by Eucalypta the witch. The joy of putting the white paper reel into the red plastic viewer for the first time and pushing down the small lever that turned to the next frame has stayed with me since my childhood and is why Toy Story 3 felt so familiar. It really is Viewmaster, bigger, brighter and better of course, but still recognisable for someone of my generation. I am not actually that old (really!) but technological changes have been profound and for once the 3D experience did not seem such a leap forward. I didn’t need anyone to explain how it worked.
Of course, as I was with my husband, daughter and second teenager last night the magic of the final moments of the film was soon erased by a liberal dose of realism. A moving representation of the choices inherent in growing up and moving away from your family and the value of friendship and remaining loyal to the things that are important to you were swept away in cries of ‘That was EPIC!!’. When the finer points of the possible moral tone of the film were gently pointed out as the reason for a few sniffles coming from the front seat of the car (in fact even my normally cool husband was a bit choked up) and the suggestion was put forward by the adults that perhaps at one point not so long ago someone in the back of the car was actually cute, the response was ‘we all have to move on Mum.’ Sad but true. But in the case of 3D movies maybe things haven’t moved on so very far after all.
Phot credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/ansik/