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Toy Story That Time Forgot Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Toy Story That TIme Forgot Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Toy Story That Time Forgot
Special & Blu-ray Disc Details

Writer/Director: Steve Purcell / Producer: Galyn Susman / Executive Producer: John Lasseter

Voice Cast: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Kristen Schaal (Trixie), Kevin McKidd (Reptillus Maximus), Emily Hahn (Bonnie), Wallace Shawn (Rex), Steve Purcell (The Cleric), Jonathan Kydd (Ray-Gon), R.C. Cope (Mason), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Timothy Dalton (Mr. Pricklepants), Lori Alan (Bonnie's Mom), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Emma Hudak (Angel Kitty), Ron Bottitta (Mason's Dad)

Original Air Date: December 2, 2014 / Running Time: 22 Minutes / Rating: TV-G

1.78:1 Widescreen
7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), 5.1 DTS-HD HR (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Blu-ray Release Date: November 3, 2015 / Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25) / Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($9.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

Buy Toy Story That Time Forgot from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

Toy Story was originally conceived as a television special. Three award-winning movies and three shorts later, the franchise grew to include two half-hour TV specials that premiered on ABC in connection with Halloween and Christmas.
2013's Toy Story of Terror! and 2014's Toy Story That Time Forgot were not intended to provide the awe, wonderment, artistry and emotion of the esteemed trilogy from which they derive. What they were intended to do was to tell new stories with these beloved characters, effectively keeping Pixar's most lucrative brand alive and well without generating the feeling of excess that undid DreamWorks' Shrek saga and seems on the verge of endangering Illumination Entertainment's Despicable Me/Minions series.

Ostensibly, Toy Story That Time Forgot is a Christmas special and accordingly it premiered in December. But those enamored by the notion of these toys experiencing the holiday season ought to revisit the closing scene of the original film. There's more of a Christmassy theme to those couple of minutes than there is to this special, which is set after Christmas and uses some newly gifted toys as a springboard to place a quintet of Andy's Bonnie's playthings in a world of armored dinosaur warriors.

Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), and an adorable angel cat ornament (Emma Hudak) wind up in the bedroom of Bonnie's friend Mason. The fictional line of toys is called Battlesaurs and it seems more like a product of the animators' 1980s childhoods than the present day.

Woody, Buzz, Trixie, and Rex discover a brave new world in "Toy Story That Time Forgot."

In a place called Battleopolis, the Battlesaurs' leader Reptillus Maximus (Kevin McKidd) sees to it that the newcomers are fitted with armor. Reptillus, who takes a special interest in Trixie (giving her something of a lead role this time out), and the others suffer from the delusion that Buzz exhibited in the original film. They are unfamiliar with their true nature as children's toys. Concerned by their world being rocked by this bombshell news, the pterodactyl Cleric (Steve Purcell) arranges for battles between the Battlesaurs and their fellow toys.

Though much too slight (and reminiscent of past Toy Story movies) to sustain a full feature, the story is a bit much to tell in just 20 minutes plus credits. There is no time for us to warm to these Battlesaurs or care about their universe. The special plays out like a not terribly interesting Saturday morning episode, something akin to a Hanna-Barbera cartoon or a Krofft brothers live-action monster show. It's a little corny and too regurgitative of past Toy Story ideas. It also doesn't come up with much of interest to engage the series' expanding stable of beloved personalities.

The Cleric isn't all that fond of Reptillus Maximus' hospitality towards strangers.

Frankly, the only reason Toy Story That Time Forgot works at all is because virtually everyone loves the Toy Story universe.

The studio is incapable of making something that is less than polished technically and the whole thing moves quickly enough that it's over before you know and before you realize how insignificant it all was.

While generally diverting and fun, the Toy Story Toons and specials have lacked the magic of the three films. That coupled with the new direction that the seemingly unnecessary stand-alone romantic comedy Toy Story 4, now scheduled to reach theaters June 2018, will take is enough to wonder if some fatigue isn't starting to creep into Pixar's 20-year-old flagship franchise. When you think about it, no other popular franchise has endured as long without taking a breather. While the eleven years in between the second and third movies certain qualify as that, the franchise has been in overdrive since TS3 became 2010's biggest and most beloved blockbuster. Pixar's management of the series until now has been nothing short of exemplary, so I hope the company knows what is doing and does not take for granted the feelings people harbor for this world. Being the series on which Pixar was built must give Toy Story an extra level of care and protection that, for instance, Cars was not afforded. And even at its weakest, which Time Forgot would seem to qualify as, the franchise has never been bad (or even bad-for-Pixar) enough to raise real concern.

A year after it first aired, Toy Story That Time Forgot has finally hit home video, getting its own lightweight DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD releases.

VIDEO and AUDIO

You can always count on a Pixar production at least looking and sounding good. This Blu-ray is a testament to that, with its flawless and detailed 1.78:1 video and noticeably immersive 7.1 DTS-HD master audio sound mix. As always, the studio offers 5.1 and 2.0 channel alternatives plus a couple of dubs with translated visuals to match. In the Set Up menu, you will even find the company's Maximizer tests for calibrating your home theater's picture and sound.

"Reptillus!!" shows us that Kristen Schaal (Trixie) and Kevin McKidd (Reptillus) recorded some scenes together. The cast and crew of "Toy Story That Time Forgot" tease the special at the 2014 Comic-Con.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Pixar has kindly delivered some worthwhile bonus features to complement the slight feature presentation.

The all-HD extras begin with "Reptillus!!" (10:51), which explores the Battlesaurs' world and characters. The featurette reveals just how much thought has gone into this fictional franchise and its look. The piece gives us everything from voice session footage to animator reference battles.

"Toy Story Goes to Comic-Con" (3:39) takes us to the 2014 convention in San Diego where writer-director Steve Purcell, Kristen Schaal, composer Michael Giacchino, and other crew members tease the special to enthusiastic geeks.

Reptillus Maximus serenades Trixie in his karaoke video "My Unexpected Friend." Trixie reveals herself to be a Battlesaurs fan in this deleted TV-watching scene.

Next we get "My Unexpected Friend" (3:59), a karaoke video by Reptillus Maximus for Trixie.
Lyrics enable you to sing along with the suddenly sentimental dino warrior (Kevin McKidd, as in the special) as pink-bordered clips and concept art is displayed. There's even the option for you to sing this tender original tune on your own.

The "Battlesaurs" animated opening (0:50) gives us a convincing Japanese TV series title sequence with the theme song sung in the special, reminding us how capable Pixar is of emulating the look of other media.

Five deleted scenes follow, running 9 minutes and 25 seconds with individual introductions by Steve Purcell. Presented in sparingly colored story reel format, they show Bonnie's toys watching "Battlesaurs" on TV (establishing Trixie as a fan), Buzz and Woody being warned en route to the arena (with a joke poking fun at Buzz's deluded past), Trixie encountering the hostile sock monkey, and an alternate version of Bonnie and Mason playing with the toys.

Last but probably not least, we get an audio commentary on the feature presentation by writer-director Steve Purcell and head of story Derek Thompson. Their screen-specific chat cites influences, gives insight into the special's evolution, considers the story's ideas, and points out little fun details. Short enough to be worthwhile, it's a welcome inclusion.

The disc opens with a Disney Movies Anywhere promo, a teaser for The Good Dinosaur and an Inside Out home video ad. The Sneak Peeks listing plays an ad for Disney Movie Rewards before repeating the disc-opening two Pixar spots.

The main menu settles on a set from the special, animating a red eye and playing score. Like other Disney Blu-rays, this one unfortunately does not resume unfinished playback nor does it let you set bookmarks. Admittedly, these are minor concerns for a 22-minute show and on the plus side, it does remember where you left off and allow you to continue

The full-color disc (Pixar titles continue to avoid the bland blue and gray labels that in-house Disney titles get) is packaged in a side-snapped blue keepcase, which is topped by an embossed slipcover, and joined by a Disney Movie Rewards/Disney Movies Anywhere code and an ad for the Disney Movie Club.

Despite the timing, Christmas barely features in "Toy Story That Time Forgot", though that's still more than Halloween got in "Toy Story of Terror!"

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Toy Story That Time Forgot is something you'd be happy to have along with its fellow ABC special and those shorts in a bonus features section of a trilogy collection. On its own, it feels rather slight and not all that special. On the plus side, the price is low and the bonus features are good on this Blu-ray + Digital HD release. Sure, this and Toy Story of Terror! could and should share a disc. But Pixar completists and Toy Story fanatics may still see enough value in these individual releases to pick up both.

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Related Reviews:
Toy Story of Terror!
New to Blu-ray: Inside Out • Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas | In Theaters: The Good Dinosaur • The Peanuts Movie
Toy Story 3 • Toy Story 2 • Toy Story • Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 2 • Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 1
Prep & Landing & Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice • DreamWorks Holiday Classics • Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special
Monsters University • Monsters, Inc. • The Incredibles • Cars • Cars 2 • A Bug's Life • Brave • Finding Nemo • Ratatouille • WALL•E • Up

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Reviewed December 3, 2015.



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