Toy Story 4 appears in an aspect ratio of :1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a flawless presentation.
At all times, sharpness looked crisp and detailed. If any softness materialized, I didn’t see it, as I thought the image remained tight and well-defined at all times.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and the movie lacked edge haloes or artifacts. Of course, no print flaws popped up along the way.
In terms of colors, Story 4 went with a broad palette. All those toys allowed for a wide variety of hues, and the image brought them out in a vivid and dynamic manner.
Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows seemed smooth and clear. This was about as good as it gets in terms of Blu-ray visuals.
Though not as impressive, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack also pleased. The film didn’t deliver a ton of opportunities for auditory theatrics, but we got enough to bring the mix to life with reasonable frequency.
That was especially true during the road trip and the carnival, as those allowed for a good variety of exciting soundscape elements. These blended together well and created a nice package of sound components from all around the room.
Audio quality was solid. Music sounded dynamic and full, while speech was distinctive and natural, so no signs of edginess occurred.
Effects appeared accurate and showed nice range, with solid low-end when appropriate. Though the mix never really threatened to reach “A”-level, it became a definite “B+” track.
In terms of extras, Disc One begins with an audio commentary from director Josh Cooley and producer Mark Nielsen. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, themes, cast and performances, animation and visual design, music and inspirations.
The best Pixar commentaries offered virtual master classes on storytelling. They detailed all the processes the studio used to develop character and narrative areas, and they became fascinating.
This isn’t one of the best Pixar commentaries.
Potential snarkiness aside, Cooley and Nielsen still manage to produce a fairly informative chat. They touch on the elephant in the room – ie, why continue after Toy Story 3 - and they give us useful notes about aspects of the production. The track doesn’t touch greatness, but it nonetheless becomes pretty good.
Two featurettes appear on Disc One, and Bo Rebooted goes for six minutes, 21 seconds. It includes notes with story supervisor Valerie LaPointe, character modeling & articulation artists Tanja Krampfert and Mara MacMahon, directing animators Patty Kihm and Becki Rocha Tower, producer Galyn Susman, story artist Carrie Hobson, shading art director Lara Phillips,and actor Annie Potts.
As expected, “Rebooted” looks at the film’s updated depiction of the Bo Peep character. Despite the clip’s brevity, it becomes a surprisingly rich examination of the subject matter.
Toy Stories lasts five minutes, 38 seconds and features Cooley, Nielsen, Tower, story artist Jeff Pidgeon, production designer Bob Pauley, animator Andrew Atteberry, character developer/animator Priscila de Borthole Vertamatti, DP – layout Patrick Lin, and actors Tom Hanks, Ally Maki, Christina Hendricks, Tony Hale, and Keanu Reeves.
Like the title implies, we learn of the participants’ childhood toy memories. It’s too short and rapid-fire to add up to much.
Disc One opens with ads for Onward and Frozen II. Sneak Peeks includes the same promos.
More extras appear on Disc Two, where we find Let’s Ride With Ally Maki. In this five-minute, 41-second reel, we get a clip that features Maki, LaPointe, Cooley, script supervisor Rachel Slansky, assistant editor Jeff Stone, and PA Vincent Salvano.
“Ride” brings a look at the process used to get dialogue into the film. It offers a wacky view of the proceedings that informs and entertains.
Next comes Woody & Buzz, a three-minute, 35-second piece that features Cooley, Nielsen, Hanks, editor Axel Geddes, supervising animator Robert H. Russ, producer Jonas Rivera, and actor Tim Allen.
As expected, the featurette discusses the relationship between the franchise’s two lead characters. It’s pretty forgettable.
Anatomy of a Scene goes for nine minutes, 31 seconds and includes Hobson, sets supervisors Steve Karski and Thomas Jordan, and character tailoring lead Mariana Galindo.
They watch the “Playground” sequence and dissect various elements. The show delivers a fairly evocative analysis.
Two snippets appear under Toy Views: “Carnival Run” (1:00) and “View from the Roof” (0:29). Both offer toys-eye looks at two movie locations, and they’re fun.
Five clips show up within Toy Box: “Gabby Gabby & Her Gang” (4:03), “Forky” (2:43), “Duke Caboom” (2:25), “Ducky & Bunny” (2:37) and “Giggle McDimples” (1:11). Across these, we hear from Hendricks, Rivera, LaPointe, Pauley, Cooley, Geddes, Hale, Reeves, Maki, Nielsen, supervising animator Scott Clark, and actor Keegan-Michael Key.
The “Box” clips offer details about the movie’s new characters. They’re moderately informative but not especially deep. I like the glimpse of Key and Jordan Peele in the studio, though, and wish we got a long reel of their improv sessions.
Including introductions from Cooley, six Deleted Scenes fill 28 minutes. Presented as rough storyreels, these tend to focus on alternate character moments as well as roles that didn’t make the final film. That means we find some intriguing material across the various scenes, and they’re more substantial than usual.
Most intriguing, we find an “Alternate Ending”. It deviates significantly from the theatrical conclusion and becomes an interesting variation.
As for Cooley, he gives us basics about the sequences as well as why they didn’t make the final film. He adds some worthwhile notes.
Four trailers appear. Three offer different “teasers” in English, Spanish and Russian. The fourth brings an exclusive meant for China, one that focuses on the “Pixar legacy” as well as Story 4 itself.
We finish with Carnival Prizes, a three-minute, 25-second compilation of little animated snippets. These feature largely dialogue-free tidbits with the characters that boast moderate entertainment value.
A third disc provides a DVD copy of the film. It includes the audio commentary but lacks the other extras.
On its own, Toy Story 4 offers an entertaining adventure. However, I can’t help but feel it seems superfluous, as the franchise concluded effectively with Toy Story 3 and didn’t need another chapter. The Blu-ray offers stellar visuals along with very good audio and a fairly positive roster of bonus materials. Toy Story 4 amuses but it doesn’t live up to the series’ exceptionally high standards.