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Movie Review

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D Double Feature

3-D adds more depth to ‘Toy’ stories

By Tom Russo
Globe Correspondent / October 2, 2009

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When George Lucas released his digitally tweaked versions of the original “Star Wars’’ trilogy in the mid-’90s, his rationale was that he wanted the experience of watching the films to be everything that we remembered. If we remembered the effects as being more advanced than they actually were, then that’s what he’d give us. (Oh, he also had a new trilogy to prime us for, in case we weren’t already planning to buy tickets. And toys and video games and Underoos.)

With the new double-feature reissue of the “Toy Story’’ films, Disney and Pixar follow the same model. They’re giving their flagship a 3-D makeover so the movies don’t look stale next to “Up’’ - and when “Toy Story 3’’ opens next June, it won’t have been 11 years since we had Woody and Buzz Lightyear on the brain.

Happily, “Toy Story’’ and current technology do make a terrific match. Seeing the imagery dimensionalized subtly adds to the already tangible curviness of Woody and Buzz’s molded plastic world. And since the movies were conceived in 2-D, there’s no “comin’ atcha’’ gimmickry. When Buzz takes flight, infinity and beyond are still generally situated off to one side, not right at the audience. Oooh-eliciting depth-of-field moments come in more natural ways: An incidental shot of the green army men lining up in formation in the sequel, say, or Woody’s nightmare drop into a discarded-toy abyss.

Precisely because the two movies predate 3-D’s recent rise, they also do more than just pay lip service to animators’ self-declared rule that story always comes first. That’s what they say - but it sure feels like we’re seeing some animated features that are content to coast on 3-D’s dazzle factor and just cobble together a script. The stories here, particularly in the first installment, feel as imaginative as ever. And the Pixar crew even puts effort into the intermission, offering a reel of 2-D video trivia, clips, etc.

The only issues with the double bill are with the presentation. “Grindhouse’’ attempted a similar two-fer, and that was an endurance test, even for adults. It’s hard to say how the three-hour running time will go over here, although a good portion of the crowd at a preview screening did hang in for the entire show, including mock outtakes.

A memo to the tech folks: If so much of 3-D is aimed at kids, what’s with the one-size-fits-all glasses? And the slight color muting continues to be a distraction. “Toy Story’’ is supposed to be all about a kid’s brightly hued world. Mr. Potato Head’s ears should be screaming pink, not guest-bedroom dusty rose.

TOY STORY / TOY STORY 2 Directed by: John Lasseter

Starring: Tom Hanks and Tim Allen

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 188 minutes, including 15-minute intermission

Rated: G