Only a handful of franchises have had any real impact on my life, and this franchise is one of them. Many other reviewers may explain how they saw the very first Toy Story and was blown away by it, but for me, it was different. I was born the year the second film came out, I had never experienced a Toy Story film in the cinemas, instead the first two films took up the majority of my childhood; alongside other absolute classics like The Incredibles. Monsters Inc., Men In Black 2 and I, Robot (the last two deserve to be in that list, okay!). I would re-watch them pretty much non-stop. Then, in 2010; Toy Story 3 was released, I was ten years old – and although I didn’t think the franchise could get any better – Toy Story 3 became my favourite one. Lotso became my favourite villain, the ending made me shed a tear and I couldn’t think of a better ending.
So, trust me when I say, you haven’t seen scepticism like the amount I was showing when this film was first announced, then, that said scepticism doubled as details were released. Why was a fourth Toy Story needed, how or why were they going to re-introduce Bo Peep. And upon trailers arriving, I wasn’t really a fan of the whole “why am I alive” aspect shown in the trailers and thought it was impossible for this film to keep the standard of the perfect trilogy. Let me answer the question on every ones minds, is this fourth film needed? Truthfully, probably not, but I’m still glad as hell we got to see it, it is a great extension of these characters and still manages to keep the standard of the first three films. It isn’t needed per-se but it does no harm by being made and is just as great a film as the other Toy Story films. And I am so glad we got it.
Where does Toy Story succeed? In truth; pretty much every aspect. It’s funny – the funniest Toy Story film, bold, caring, has a ton of heart and dare I say scary (I have no idea how it’s rated U). It introduces some great concepts we haven’t seen in this franchise before, the basis of Toy Story 3 was about the humans growing, but Toy Story 4 flips that on the head and shows that these toys also need to grow up; with Woody making sacrifices as he is paired with Forky who was has no idea who he is. It also introduces some concepts we have all wondered ever since the first movie, introduces scene-stealing new characters and delegates the screen-time to each all while evolving Woody and Buzz (Buzz being a character the third film has no development for). All that, plus it manages to send these characters off in a beautiful ending that will leave you with tears rolling down your face.
But, Toy Story 4 really succeeds and shines by continuing these characters’ arcs – like I said; specifically Woody. With the introduction of Bo Peep, there is great dialogue between the two about their purpose in this world. Woody has the most going on this film, he has to deal with his changing relationship with Bonnie – because Bonnie isn’t Andy, has to deal with his changing role in the gang, he finds Bo Peep and it makes him question his choices, he has to look after Forky; a toy that doesn’t want to be a toy, all that and more. It is this arc for Woody and for the characters around him where this film really shines and shows that it isn’t just a cash-grab.
As I’ve had some time to think about this film, I come to love it that little bit more, like I said mainly because of its heart and its characters. But, as I came out the theatre, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I laughed, I cried, I went through them all. But, I couldn’t help but feel something was missing. The mission, the story, the villain, these are all things we have seen before. Only this time, the characters that we have come to love in the first three films are sidelined and not in the midst of the action. And, although I completely understand why and am so happy with the new characters we got, I wish we would’ve got to spend more time with the original gang, or hoped that some of the bigger characters in the group would join the action later on (I honestly didn’t know the aliens were in this film). Regarding the actual mission and story, like I said it has all been seen before and the ‘villain’ mainly just serves purpose to Woodys arc. I would’ve liked to have seen a clearer focus on some of the concepts about Woody’s arc that was just hinted to, the idea that he has had his time I don’t think came through clear enough.
Although I have said this, I have to mention that the new characters introduced were amazing. Tony Hale was amazing, and I am in love with Forky. I was sceptical about Key and Peele just because they were big name comedy actors and I didn’t see that in line with this Toy Story brand but they smashed it out the park and the keanaissance really is here. This is also the most stunning animation I have seen, with it being as visually amazing as you could expect.