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"Pixar theme" #3

There is ‘Aliens’, there is ‘Terminator 2’, there is ‘The Godfather Part II’ and then there is ‘Toy Story 2’... This is one of the greatest follow-ups ever made, in my opinion, though I’m equally sad and surprised to see it mentioned as the weakest in the franchise by quite a few here and there. I will admit that the first and second films are childhood favorites of mine, which definitely holds a good dose of nostalgia, but nevertheless the films quality isn’t lessened or clouded much at all, I think. There have been times where I have rewatched childhood favorites that unfortunately ended falling flat, so it isn’t always a guarantee to love a past favorite…

However, ‘Toy Stort 2’ still stands strong with me, no matter how many times I watch it. Since it is quite relevant for this review, and the entirety of the actual film, I will simply say it right from the beginning: what makes the sequel superior to the first one, in my opinion, is that it expands and develops on all aspects of which generated quite a lot of curiosity when seeing the first one. And it does it in a natural but quite ambitious way, and to my surprise it manages to keep everything balanced and afloat, without ever breaking from the pressure. It references the original film in fun and inventive ways, but that aspect never carries the entire film, and it has so much that is new and bigger, yet it never ruins the core of the actual story. It is grander and more fun and adventurous, which perhaps makes it great in other ways than the original, so which you prefer isn’t really that important. I always use this slightly odd comparison with the Alien-franchise, since the grounded and more simplistic original is made bigger, and to some extent better, with the more adventurous and action-filled sequel, which also develops greatly on its original atmosphere and its ideas. That is basically the recipe for a successful sequel and ‘Toy Stort 2’ does that to perfection.

Sorry, let’s get back on track here… Right from the fantastic opening sequence with Buzz actually being realized as a true universal galactic hero, which I’m sure some were curious about in one way or the other. We now get to see what “planet Buzz was living on” during the first film and what his past is basically all about when realized. Same goes for Woody, when he is introduced to what kind of character he is, or rather was, and he almost takes on the role that Buzz had in the first one… And in connection to the story, instead of Andy receiving things like he did in the original, he is now giving things away on a yard sale… Woody is kidnapped by this toy collector, which is quite an inventive way to expand on the story and universe, since it discusses the opportunity of toys not being meant to be played with, and this creates a whole new perspective on things…

The rescue mission executed with Buzz in the lead is fun and quite adventurous, and this is also where I think it manages to go even bigger but with the character-driven atmosphere still intact. In the original, I felt like Buzz and Woody only quickly touches upon the human world, and somehow it also comes across as less big and dangerous, especially since we are quickly back in the smaller settings again, at Sid’s house. But in the sequel the toys are truly introduced to the great big world and how dangerous and enormous it actually is. Not only thinking of the amazing road scene, the huge baggage-travel madness, following the even bigger plane chase and rescue scene, but also the fact that a few cheese puffs spread across a floor suddenly seem particularly enormous and dangerous. There is truly a lot of talent behind this film, making it all seem so huge; even the everyday stuff.

The story touches upon some of the same aspects as the first film, but it develops on them and creates new ones as well. It is still about togetherness, trust and so on, but it is fun to see the tables turned a bit this time, with Woody doubting his entire life and with the film now touching upon self-discovery, abandonment and outgrowing the past. It feels natural and fresh even when it reflects on past ideas used in the original… It is just such a fun, big and adventurous ride, which feels so huge and crazy with all your hopes being fulfilled almost at once… We get to experience the backstory of Buzz, Woody and a bunch of new characters – as well as being introduced to the evil emperor Zurg – also being in an actual toy store, Buzz meeting “himself”, toy collectors, and well… basically the entire world seems to be used as a fundament for the fun and games going on in ‘Toy Story 2’. A truly excellent sequel.