Review: Toy Story 4

As this is a new release, there will not be any spoilers

When a precious film gets a sequel, your first feeling is that of dread. By the end of the forth Shrek, I felt let down. Therefore, after the end of an almost perfect trilogy of toy story, one could be forgiven for considering this film nothing more than a potential stumbling block. However, the good news is that this film doesn’t dampen the legacy left by Tom Hanks and co and brings about a new age for Toy Story.

Taking place soon after Toy Story 3, Woody finds that he isn’t Bonnie’s favourite toy and isn’t in charge of her room as he was in Andy’s. He is the only toy not played with and is left in the cupboard. As Bonnie starts kindergarten, struggling to make friends, she makes a new toy out of rubbish. This plastic spork with lollipop stick legs and pipe cleaner arms becomes sentient and is called Forky (Tony Hale). However, he has an identity crisis, believing he’s trash and tries to climb in the bin. Woody, realising that Forky is Bonnie’s favourite toy makes it his duty to protect Forky. When Forky escapes the camper van, Woody goes on the standard Toy Story adventure to save him.

Image result for Toy Story 4 Forky

The film feels like a new start for the Toy Story series as there are a predominantely new set of characters. Lead by the returning Bo-Peep (Annie Potts), we meet Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki) and Duke Kaboom (Keanu Reeves) on our way home. The highlight of the film as the Bunny and Ducky characters played by comedic duo Key & Peele with some brilliant lines. While we do miss Buzz, Jessie and the gang, this smaller set of characters all feel different and more fleshed out. We learn their backstories and how they haven’t had a full life with a kid.

Image result for Toy Story 4

You’ve got troubles, well I’ve got them to

Our latest antagonist is Gabi-Gabi (Christina Hendricks), a defective toy stuck in the antique store pining for the attention of a young girl. While she performs okay, she and her mannequins never quite have the same fear factor that Lotso and the big baby had in Toy Story 3. This was a sentiment I felt throughout the film. Toy Story 3 was pretty much a perfect film and a great way to finish the trilogy. It was a suitable end after a stellar beginning and middle. While 4 is well written and drawn, it doesn’t quite hit in the same way 3 did. Whether this is because 3 gave us sentimentality, I’m not quite sure. But this film, while not unwelcome didn’t quite feel as fulfilling.

Image result for Toy Story 4 Gabi Gabi

While we tread some familiar ground, this film gives a somewhat fresh look at a Toy’s purpose. The first part of the film feels like a repeat, with Woody dealing with relegation. However, when this traditionalist “always there for your child” toy is faced with new ideas from Bo and the new gang, we see diversions into new areas not previously explored in the franchise.

When the road looks rough ahead.

Visually, the film was stunning. Comparing the first film to this one shows how far Pixar have come in animation. You can tell what material each character is made from (especially Bo). The lighting is incredible and the atmospheres are vibrant compared to the relatively plain atmospheres of the first two films. You see a cat at one point and it looks like a cat. It’s a totally different look to Sid’s dog in the first film. The humans also look more developed. Resultantly, you see a lot more of them. Toy Story 4 really does set the benchmark of what animation should look like.

Summary

Toy Story 4 returns after nine years looking sharper than ever. A new set of characters make this film fresh and separate from the previous trilogy. However, as nice as this film was, it didn’t quite match the very high standard of the previous film. [Grade: B+]

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