So I’m going to preface this review by saying that while I did like the previous three Toy Story movies, I wasn’t as blown away with them as everyone else seemed to be. I felt like they were really good movies, but not great.
As such, I didn’t really have much excitement for the fourth movie, especially since Pixar had done a pretty good job rounding off the trilogy and giving the toys a well-deserved send-off. And most of my friends seemed to have the same sort of feeling, with no-one really looking forward to the film.
But I figured I had nothing to lose watching it, made my way to the theatre with no real expectations and came away feeling like I had watched a near perfect film. I’m telling you, if you are a fan of animation you are going to love this movie. From beginning to end, the movie had me. A cinematic experience where I can’t actually think of anything negative to say.
As a lot of movie-goers would have grown up with the characters in the Toy Story franchise, and already have a connection to the likes of Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and so on, the fourth film has the benefit of being able to get right into the story, building on the foundations laid by the previous three films. We already know what makes the toys tick and in this fourth iteration, the characters stay true to what has come before.
What has changed though is the quality of the animation. The Toy Story series has always been in the technical forefront of CG films, but the latest movie really pushes the boundaries mixing the cartoon-like quality of the toys and their human owners with photo-realistic environments, lighting effects and camerawork. This is easily the most amazing looking Toy Story yet.
But this is not just a pretty film. Luckily, the brains at Pixar have also written a story that is every bit a match in quality to the animation. Long being a series about friendship and a sense of purpose, Toy Story 4 manages to delve more into what it means to be a toy, and questioning where that sense of purpose should come from. It is a story that will elicit a tear from many a viewer as the toys are once again put through an emotional wringer.
But for all the pathos in the film, there are an equal amount of laugh out loud moments. There is a lot of comedy brought by new characters Forky (Tony Hale), Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key ) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) that will have many an adult chuckling to themselves, and the cameo by Keanu Reeves is surely going to be another highlight in the year of the Keanaissance.
Toy Story 4 also features the series’ most terrifying and sympathetic villains. Without going into spoiler territory, while the mostly voiceless antagonists in the film are truly chilling, their arc manages to resolve itself satisfactorily without seeming too one note.
As mentioned above, this is a movie that will get you choked up one minute, and laughing the next whilst revelling in the stunning art of the animation. It’s a great journey to go along with characters from your childhood and , in my opinion, the best film of the franchise.
If you are on the fence, then don’t be. Go watch this movie, and make sure you watch the multiple end credit scenes, and wait for the one right at the end which pays off one of the movie’s running gags.
I give Toy Story 4 a 9.5 out of 10.