- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2019

Buzz, Woody and the gang offered another lesson in friendship, self-sacrifice and teamwork in their latest animated blockbuster that now shines in the 4K format.

Toy Story 4: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, rated G, 100 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $44.50) finds the famed toy cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) feeling a little less wanted after his favorite porcelain doll Bo Peep (Annie Potts) moves to another home and his human Bonnie becomes smitten with a new sort of action figure.

Specifically, the little girl dresses up a spork, calls it Forky (Tony Hale), and Woody ends up indoctrinating her new companion into the wiles of existing as a toy.

When the family goes on vacation, all of the toys including astronaut action figure Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) and Hamm (John Ratzenberger) come along and work with Woody to keep Forky out of trouble.

On the adventure, they must also contend with a malfunctioning doll in the Second Chance antique store named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) that has nefarious motivations while attempting to toy nap Forky and Woody.

As always, viewers get a serious dose of vintage Toy Story with plenty of humorous subplots such as Forky’s fixation with garbage cans and a small army of ventriloquist dummies on the prowl along with some fun new characters.

These include Canadian motorcycle stunt toy Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), carnival plush prizes Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), and a Polly Pockets mutation Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki).

Suffice it to report, the colorful toys and incredible animation make for a perfect movie evening for the entire family.

4K in action: Ah success, a beautifully animated effort from Pixar gets realized in ultra-high definition from a 4K master format, and the toys really shine in this visual smorgasbord.

Lifelike clarity and color abound, immediately noticed on the fine bristles on Forky’s red pipe-cleaner arms, the rosy cheeks of Woody, each individual strand of the strawberry blonde rooted hair on Gabby Gabby and when she draws on freckles that dry on her plastic cheeks.

Keep the visual brilliance going with the sheen on Rex’s green jagged and dimpled scales, scratched screws on a wheel assembly of a radio-controlled skunk vehicle (complete with caked dirt on tires), Bunny’s plush blue body, sparkly purple eyes and neon green belly and Duke Caboom’s scuffed motorcycle.

Also notable was the kaleidoscope of colors reflecting off of a collection of chandeliers in the antique shop, Duke’s spectacular jump set against a fireworks display and raindrops accumulating on a car so crisply that you can count them.

Best extras: Pixar nearly overwhelms with the bonus content available on two Blu-ray discs, starting with an optional commentary track with director Josh Cooley and producer Mark Nielsen.

Both are eager to talk about the production and cover in detail their favorite scenes, the animation process, the voice-over cast, Easter eggs and legacy of the franchise.

Specifics nuggets discussed include the massive storm scene early on that was so complex that it ate up half of the effects budget and recording legends Mel Brooks (Melephant Brooks) and Carl Reiner (Carl Reineroceros) together at Mr. Reiner’s house.

Next, while sitting in theater seats, sets supervisors Thomas Jordan and Steve Karski, character tailoring lead Mariana Galindo and story artist Carrie Hobson spend roughly 10 minutes breaking down the playground scene. Viewers learn about Bo’s multifunctional wraparound skirt, the skunk mobile, texturing playground rubber and the meaning of bokeh (out-of-focus, photo-blurring effects).

Another five featurettes touch on introducing some of the new characters (with interview from the voice-over cast), the relationship between Buzz and Woody, what the voice recording process is like, and the cast’s and crew’s favorite toys growing up.

Finally, the director introduces 28 minutes of cut scenes presented in a roughly illustrated and animated format that included some very funny concepts such as Woody and Bo Peep interrogating a popup animal toy.

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