Toy Story 2

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Details At A Glance

Category Family Featurette - Character Featurette
Featurette - Coolest Toy
Featurette - Music
Featurette - Luxo, Jr
Year Released 1999
Running Time
88:30 minutes
(not 94 minutes as stated on packaging) 
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (51:42)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Menu
Region 4 Director John Lasseter
Walt Disney Pictures
Warner Home Video
Starring Tom Hanks
Tim Allen 
Joan Cusack
Kelsey Grammer
Don Rickles
Wallace Shawn
John Ratzenberger
Jim Varney
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $39.95 Music Randy Newman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

Plot Synopsis

    After the success both technically and critically of Toy Story, the first fully digitally animated feature film, and A Bug's Life, it was inevitable that a sequel to the former would be forthcoming. It is almost as inevitable that there will eventually be a sequel to A Bug's Life too, I would suspect. After all, Disney is renowned for milking every dollar it can out of its property, and given the huge success of the merchandising alone from the original Toy Story, there were simply too many reasons not to make a sequel. However, I digress.

    One of the great problems with sequels is that they rarely live up to the original film, usually lacking the originality, the inventiveness, and the freshness of the original film. All too often the good name of the original film can be severely denigrated by the pox of the sequel, and so it is not exactly a dead certainty that the sequel will achieve what the studio aims to do. Of course, there are always the exceptions to prove the rule and in this instance we happen to have one of them. After all, we are talking about a film that is currently ranked at number 30 in the Top 250 films of all time by the voters on the Internet Movie Database.

   Toy Story 2 sees the return of all of the favourite characters out of Toy Story and adds in a few new ones. The basic story is once again the plight of our hero Woody (Tom Hanks), Andy's favourite toy, who misses out on the annual cowboy camp because he is damaged. Things look bleak for Woody and they get even worse when he sets off to save Wheezy, a squeeze penguin, from the 25c box at a yard sale. However, things don't quite go to plan and Woody ends up being toy-napped by a toy store owner by the name of Al (Wayne Knight), who recognizes Woody as the last lost puzzle from a 1950's television show called Wood's Roundup. Al has already gathered the rest of the "cast" from the show and a whole bunch of memorabilia from the show and Woody is the final piece of the collection that will see it all shipped to a toy museum in Japan for a very healthy sum of money. However, Al does not count upon the tenacity of Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Slinky Dog (Tim Varney) and Rex (Wallace Shawn) as they head off to save Woody. Complicating matters is the fact that Woody may not want to be saved since he has now rediscovered who he is and is reunited with Jessie (Joan Cusack), his faithful steed Bullseye and Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammer). We basically follow the rather hilarious exploits of our intrepid toy friends as they search for Woody. Along the way we have yet another film that decides to take some gentle digs at Star Wars, whilst also taking a gentle poke at its predecessor!

    One of the main reasons that sequels die a death is the fact that the story simply is not up to scratch, and they usually end up regurgitating the same story in a poorer form. There are no concerns here about that. This film takes a slightly different route than the original film and the new characters add greatly to the film rather than detracting from it. Whilst the main characters still remain Woody and Buzz Lightyear (in two versions), the integration of the new and old characters is very well done and the overall result is a fine film in its own right that does not need you to have seen Toy Story. Once again the vocal performances are superb and the toys end up as really believable characters. The whole film does a fine job of trying to outdo the original film, and even A Bug's Life in most respects, and in general it does. This is superb entertainment in a medium that Pixar Animation Studios rules supreme in. The quality of the animation even outdoes the earlier films, if that is at all possible, and at times you almost believe that you are not watching animation but live action - only the toy characters really give it away.

    You can now add another DVD to the rather short pile of utterly superb pieces of polycarbonate. You will be amazed once again by the quality of the transfer and the animation and this is sure to keep the whole family very happy for many watchings to come. This should be a huge seller for Christmas, and you should grab this one as soon as you can.

Transfer Quality


    What needs to be said about the video transfer? This is one of the easiest reviews I will ever get to write about a video transfer. In a word - superb.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, being the widescreen television equivalent of the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is one seriously reference quality transfer! If you ever want to talk about sharpness and detail, then talk about this transfer. It is done totally in the digital realm of course, and therefore this is about as good as it gets. The clarity is stunning throughout, there is not a hint of even the remotest indication of grain and low level noise is an insult to even be mentioned. The attention to detail in the animation is fully brought out here to savour and the subtlety at times is quite amazing for an animated film. This effort has few peers, and even those are most likely to be from the same source as this stunning effort.

    The colours are extremely well handled throughout the transfer, with some quite stunning subtlety to enjoy. If you really want to see animation at its very best, just watch the "restoration" scene where Woody is given the once over. Just watch how the subtle changes come to life as the eyes are cleaned and a minute amount of paint is brushed across the cheeks. This is the sort of subtlety that you rarely see in live action films, let alone animation. The vibrancy of the colours, even though the overall palette is quite pastel rather than gloss, is wonderful and the whole thing just reeks of quality. There is not a skerrick of a hint of oversaturation and to even think that this approaches any issue about colour bleed is to be casting serious aspersions upon the quality of work from Pixar Animation Studios.

    Being entirely in the digital realm, you can forget MPEG artefacts in the transfers - nothing even close to looking like one. Neither are there are any film-to-video artefacts in the transfer and there are certainly no film artefacts at all. In fact, the only thing you might even want to raise is just a couple of very minor hints of something that may just be an indication of shimmer that really is barely there. Don't we wish all transfers were as good as this!

    But, something has to be mentioned as a problem here, so lets talk about the layer change on this RSDL formatted disc. The change comes at 51:42 and whilst it is not too badly placed, it seemed to last just a little longer than perhaps is optimal, making it just a little noticeable in the overall flow of things. It is, after all, about the only thing I can really pick upon in the entire video transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    What needs to be said about the audio transfer? This is one of the easiest reviews I will ever get to write about an audio transfer. In a word - superb. Sorry, I could not resist repeating the phrase!

    There are two soundtracks on offer on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Not wanting to try and make my job difficult, I stuck to the English soundtrack for this review.

    I would seriously doubt that you could get a more clearer presentation of dialogue on DVD than this and there is not much of an issue with audio sync here at all. I guess that is one of the beauties of digital animation, in that you can do a better job of getting the mouth movements more in sync with the spoken words from the vocal cast.

    The original music for the film comes from Randy Newman, just like the original film, and whilst obviously drawing a lot from that score it also forges some new directions of its own. There are a couple of new songs to enjoy here, as well as a reworked gem from the original film. A very good, complementary score that does its job very well indeed.

    Somewhat unusually for a Disney family film, this effort is blessed with a relatively full-on bass channel. Surround channel use is excellent, and this soundtrack takes every opportunity to demonstrate how good Dolby Digital can be. The front to rear sound effects are superb and I cannot find anything to say against this soundtrack at all. The soundscape is virtually perfect, with a nice natural feel to it. If there is anything wrong with this effort, then I sure missed it. This is possibly the best soundtrack that Disney has given us since A Bug's Life.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Disney is not exactly well-known for its extras packages on DVD, and therefore I suppose that we should be grateful for anything we get. However, it is a little disappointing that we have so little here and perhaps too much is being held back for the forthcoming triple DVD Ultimate Pack, that will also include Toy Story.


    Whilst they are all 16x9 enhanced, that is the only enhancement they get and this really did cry out for at least some animation in the menus. Still, there is no denying that they are nice, clean, bright jobs that serve their limited purpose well enough.

Featurette - Character featurette (3:55)

    Like the other two featurettes, this is more like an extract from an electronic press kit that a genuine featurette. It mainly reveals the stars behind the characters, with a bit of interview material and some footage taken during the dialogue recording for the film. Presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Really of quite limited appeal. It suffers a little from some aliasing problems.

Featurette - Coolest Toy featurette (3:16)

    This effort is mainly interview material with the stars and some crew, arguing their case for the coolest toy in the show. Presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. This is hardly worth including in the package, and it too suffers a little from minor aliasing.

Featurette - Music featurette (3:27)

    This effort is mainly interview material with the recording artists who performed the songs. Presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Since this includes some interview material with Sarah McLachlan, this is the coolest of the three featurettes, but that is hardly saying much.

Featurette - Luxo, Jr (2:19)

    From little acorns do mighty oaks grow. This is where it all started, way back in 1986. It might be short, but this is brilliant stuff indeed, especially considering that it is fourteen years old. Presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 5.0 sound. Terrific quality stuff indeed, and I cannot help but feel that one day a DVD solely of all the short animated pieces that Pixar have done would be an appropriate release for aficionados of really cool animation. This and the next little item are the reasons why this is still a good extras package.

Outtakes (5:27)

    They made an appearance on A Bug's Life and are now likely to become an essential staple of all animated feature film packages hereon. If these don't get you laughing, then I strongly suggest that you visit a funeral director, 'cause you have to be dead. There are some classics here, with my personal favourite being when Jessie pushes Woody away whilst holding his string - which promptly breaks, sending Woody crashing into the crew. Presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Just like those on A Bug's Life, you will return to these frequently. Brilliant stuff - why can't we have another hour or so of them?

R4 vs R1

    Toy Story 2 is released in Region 1 as part of a two disc set, with Toy Story. It is also released as part of a triple DVD Ultimate Pack that is loaded to the gunwales with extras. However, the most appropriate comparison is with the two DVD set version. As near as I can work out, from the rather contradictory information I have found across a number of sites, the Region 4 release misses out on:     The Region 1 release misses out on:     Unless you are already in possession of an EX capable system, I cannot see any great reason to prefer one version over another. Certainly the reviews of the Region 1 release indicate a similar high standard of presentation of the video and audio. However, just be aware that we are getting the three DVD Ultimate Pack, which will contain both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 as well as a whole bunch of extras. It will, however, have a hefty purchase price that may prove difficult for some. You should also be aware that there is a slightly different release of this DVD in Region 2, that according to the Internet Movie Database has both the Pan and Scan version and the widescreen version of the film, with the sneak preview of Monsters Inc. and a music video for Wood's Roundup, but without the music featurette. That would make the release reasonably similar to the Region 4 in terms of desirability.

    It should be noted that there is a slight difference between the US version and other versions of the film. The difference occurs at Chapter 14 where Buzz's speech is accompanied by the Stars and Stripes waving in the background and the US national anthem playing in the background on the R1 DVD.  This slightly over-the-top piece of American celebration was replaced in international versions of the film with a stylistic globe and slightly pompous but innocuous music in the background, as we have on the R4 version of the film.


    Toy Story 2 is a great film on a terrific DVD, with a reasonable extras package (saved by the outtakes and the Luxo, Jr short). A more extensive extras package, including an audio commentary, would probably have seen this one elevated to the Hall Of Fame. As it is, if you cannot wait for or cannot afford the triple DVD set, this is an essential purchase for Christmas, as it is guaranteed to keep the family amused for endless viewings over the long, hot summer holidays. Technically, this is probably one of the best four or five DVDs released thus far in Region 4.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
9th November 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL