Toys (1992)

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Released 10-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 116:40
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Barry Levinson
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Robin Williams
Michael Gambon
Joan Cusack
Robin Wright Penn
LL Cool J
Donald O'Connor
Arthur Malet
Jack Warden
Debi Mazar
Wendy Melvoin
Julio Oscar Mechoso
Jamie Foxx
Shelly Desai
Case ?
RPI $19.80 Music Hans Zimmer
Trevor Horn


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Swedish
French Titling
German Titling
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, closing credits over flying elephant

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It's difficult to judge Toys. On the one hand, it is clearly a labour of love from director Barry Levinson, who has yet to deliver a movie that can be classified as "boring" or "mainstream." On the other hand, the film has too many misses to be considered a "masterpiece."

    Kenneth Zevo (Donald O'Connor) is the President of Zevo Toys, and he is dying. Fearing that his son Leslie (Robin Williams) is not mature enough to take over the company when he dies, instead he transfers control and ownership to his brother Lt. Gen. Leland (Michael Gambon).

    Bad move.

    Leland is a soldier who is more interested in making war than toys. Soon, he is commandeering the factory to produce miniature war weapons, and he has a secret plan to enlist children to remotely control the weapons by making it seem as if they are playing video games. Together with his son Patrick (LL Cool J), the fun and happy atmosphere at Zevo Toys soon changes for the worse ...

    Leslie wants to stop Leland, but will he have the guts to do so? The only people he can rely on to help him are his eccentric sister Alsatia (Joan Cusack), his father's trusted second in command Owen Owens (Arthur Malet), and a pretty girl who has recently become an employee (Robin Wright).

    The film is probably worth watching just for the surreal sets and production design, ingeniously created by Ferdinando Scarfiotti. The toy factory looks like one gigantic toy, set in an open countryside full of green grass that looks as if a Teletubby might suddenly pop out of. Some of the scenes have such a "constructed" feel about them that at times I felt I was watching an extended music video.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in widescreen 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The intended aspect ratio is 1.85:1, based on a 35mm film source.

    This is an excellent transfer, with superb levels of detail and perfect colour saturation, which is just as well, because the film relies heavily on primary colours for a bright, well ..., 'toy-like' world.

    Grain is present, but it is very minimal. The film source appears almost pristinely clean, with only the occasional white hair mark noticeable.

    I did not really notice any compression artefacts apart from some posterization in the bright flares around 50:35 and 50:45.

    There are a few subtitle tracks: English for the Hearing Impaired, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, French Titling, German Titling, Italian Titling, and Spanish Titling. I turned on the English subtitle track briefly. It contains some transcription of non-dialogue sounds, but I did not notice any instances of dialogue attribution. It does not transcribe lyrics to songs sung in the film.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs in Chapter 10 at 58:09. This occurs during a blank screen in between scenes, so should not be noticeable on most players.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are a few audio tracks on the disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    Whoever did the transfer must have loved this film, because the soundtrack is given excellent treatment.

    Not only is the original Dolby Stereo soundtrack remastered into Dolby Digital 5.1, but the higher bitrate of 448Kb/s is used.

    This results in an excellent, near reference-quality audio track with lots of low level detail, plus a full-bodied sound. Dialogue was clear throughout (except for the mumblings of Old General Zevo) and there were no issues with audio synchronization.

    The surround channels are also well utilized, initially primarily for background music but as the film progresses increasingly for Foley effects. The "war" scene at the end features aggressive use of the surround channels.

    The subwoofer also appears to be well utilized for many low frequency sound effects, such as explosions, but also in atmospheric effects to give an eerie or menacing feel to some scenes.

    The background music is an interesting mixture between an orchestral music score composed by Hans Zimmer and various songs arranged by Trevor Horn. These songs are sung by various artists including Enya and Tori Amos. In addition, there is a mix of Welcome to the Pleasuredome by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and the MTV "music video" done by Leslie and Alsatia is sung by Thomas Dolby.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Unfortunately, there are no extras on this disc. The menus are 16x9 enhanced and static.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Region 1 wins due to the additional extras, but they are not very significant.

Summary

    Toys is a whimsical film about a whimsical man who has to prevent his evil militaristic uncle from converting a toy factory to produce weapons of not-so-massive destruction.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is also excellent and near reference quality.

    Unfortunately, there are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, February 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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Comments (Add)
The hell with 'TOYS' I want 'THE TOY' on DVD NOW - Christopher
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