Toy Story 3
When Pixar first emerged, their first movie was the start of a long string of hits which never seems to stop. With Toy Story I, you had a hit which was a mix of startling animation, lots of fun but mostly important and yet ironical in an animation, the human touch. The story of a bond of friendship between two different personalities, overcoming adversity together, along with genuine chemistry, lots of funny lines and some excitement made an instant hit of the first show. Can they make it 3 hits in a row?
Toy Story II was even better and there is a lot to prove almost 10 years after the first release. It also comes in 3D and with a string of duds and some skepticism that 3D is merely a means to squeeze more out of the movie goer, the third installment has a lot to live up to. But trust Pixar to not only live up to expectations, but exceed them, and be able to introduce a whole new bunch of characters, which add a new dimension, but still allow the original dynamic duo of Buzz Lightyear and Woody to shine.
Adults do not need to feel shy watching this show and it rivals my old favorite of Indiana Jones for its wonderful mix of action, romance and comedy sublimely mixed into a heartwarming show that still manages to add a new dimension even if you saw it in 2D only. The owner Andy has grown up and is going to college. The theme of abandonment, and redundancy are deftly dealt with, whilst introducing a new adventure and a roller-coaster ride of death-defying action that sees our heroes fall from one tough situation into another. There are darker moments in this movie than some of the earlier hits, and this follows “UP” which also showed a darker broodier side. Even so you won’t find kids complaining and you will be laughing along and if you decided to bring your partner, this would certainly be a nice date movie too, especially when Spanish Buzz shows off his dancing skills. That and the totally impossibly saccharine Ken and Barbie link up were the kind of romance scenes which would get you rolling in laughter and yet when Buzz gallantly rescues Jessie, that rivals any heroes moves, and certainly better than any Colin Firth or Hugh Jackman offerings.
Ultimately it is still about Woody and Buzz and our loveable heroes show the best action stars out there, how to get out of trouble in style, get the girl and save the world or at least the toy buddies in your backyard.
Highly recommended as a movie and a keeper for Blu Ray. 4/5
The action comes fast and furious and there are plenty of scenes which are demo worthy, and the surround channels are well used. 4/5
Barbie isn’t much of a chick factor, but this is after all a cartoon. 2/5
Since I saw this in 3D, I would say that it adds a little more, but it shows again that a good storyline is fundamental, and the 3D is the icing on the cake which makes a good show stand out even more. Kudos to Pixar.
Toy Story 3
This is to help sieve through the many calibration discs we have on the market.
Too many discs can add confusion to new buyers and newbies to HT.
Firstly, understand the controls on your TV, amp or speakers. Go through the basic terms like speaker placement, SPL meters, color, brightness, contrast etc first before you venture further. Then you will need to see if you use your TV in 2 settings – day and night. Then you may need to use 2 different settings for each light condition.
For video, the main thing is optimising your settings to give you the best picture quality (PQ) and similarly for sound, the ideal setting to make you feel part of the sound.
For video, it should have the basic brightness, colour, contrast and tint sections, then it may have test screens to centre the picture, and further tests of alignment, bleed, interlacing etc, but the first few should be present.
Good test discs also have realistic scenes after test screens to show what real skin tones look like.
Discs should be easy to navigate, understand and also have explanations for each section.
Sound testing can be done after basic setting up of the speakers, measuring their distances and also using the built in auto-EQ functions like Audyssey, YPAO, MACC etc first.
There should be a sound sweep through all the speakers, and not all discs cover 7.1 channels, so take note. Then there should be a frequency sweep from low to high, and there should be enough breaks between each frequency and each of sufficient duration (or you can advance the section) so you can take readings.
First the free:
Tests screens on TV:
Sure it is in SDTV and depends on your reception, but it is a good start.
Few things come free, but the THX labelled discs all come with basic color and sound calibration, which can be very useful.
The BBC male voice is an excellent test of how natural your centre speaker sounds, does it really sound like someone is in front of you? And when you use the 7 channel stereo mode, do all the voices reach your ears at the same time?
Life – BBC
On Disc 1 there is a setup for Hi Def tune up which is as simple as you can imagine and IMO, excellent and even better than some of those fancy AVIA or DVE discs!
Those that cost $$:
Sound and Vision Calibration DVD –
Simple with many explanations, good for beginners.
Joe Kane’s DVE- available in BR and DVD.
Oldie and goodie, covers most of what is needed but the ease of use isn’t too great, especially for beginners.
AVIA - available in BR and DVD.
Newer version of an old hit – comprehensive and pretty easy for newbies – good for mid to high level users.
The Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray Edition
If you bought a Oppo BD 83, this comes free and is good for beginners to mid – level.
HD HQV Benchmark Blu-Ray Disc
This is a mid to high level test disc, but it is not too hard to use.
LIFE - BBC series
4 discs - region free.
If BBC's Planet Earth was the aperitif that showcases what High Definition could do, then Life is the tour de force course which reinforces it and more... The picture quality here, the kind of detail on offer is so astounding, you almost feel voyeuristic in your vantage point. Sure the plethora of action movies on offer is plenty, and you can get many CGI scenes but if you want real action accompanied by real gore, and lots of surround effects, look no further.
As for the plot - let’s just say Mother Nature knows how to give you a great story, and you are in the middle of the gripping action watching animals fight for their lives. This is accompanied by Sir Attenborough's wonderful narrative in his natural calm smooth voice - forget the Oprah version chaps, this is the real man.
Life does not leave you short-changed when comes to the sound. With total immersion, you almost feel seated right in the middle of the forest, or just a hair's breath away from the insect just as it is swallowed by the chameleon concealed only inches way.
Nature is a cacophony of sound and BBC adds a delicate hand with the accompanying music. You don’t need big explosions to give your subwoofer a workout. There are plenty of moments bass is used to good effect to give tension and you will appreciate the money you put into good speakers as the music adds to the moment and there are plenty of sequences which will take your breath away in the quality of the cinematography, the sound, the picture quality and most importantly how the intricacies of life unfold before you and you witness the struggles of life first hand. With the end of each episode, you get an insight into how each shot was done, and with it rolling of the credits, you will feel life is even more precious and a strange and strong desire to live it well.
Bravo to BBC for producing this and offering at at a pittance of 33 GBP.
Highly recommended as a keeper.
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Another day with the Neural X, and DTS-X, and I took out a disc from the not too distant past: Get The Gringo A relatively simple plo...