Even after nearly twenty-five years cranking out three movies and dishing out 1.8 billion at the worldwide box office, a notable sum indeed, the idea of Pixar finally stumbling with one of their flagship franchises had turned from a sharp fear to a realistic expectation. But much like the film’s subject matter, never underestimate the power of these characters and the brilliant filmmakers as yes, Pixar has done it again with the poignant, powerful, and stirring Toy Story 4. Consisting out of performances from the usual delights such as Tom Hanks to newcomers that steal the spotlight including Keanu Reeves and hot off the success of Us Jordan Peele, Toy Story 4 is delightful, bursting with flavor, charm, and humor the likes of which never seen before in the series. Sure, the trademark heart-wrenching moments are here in all of their tear-jerking glory, but their inclusion almost become seconded to what is a sprawling and yet personal adventure. It’s a simple statement but an anything but simple accomplishment. Toy Story 4 lives up to the previous installments’ expectations and in many cases go beyond them.
Kicking off with a flashback sequence from nine years ago, the film begins with a bang, introducing the massive roster of characters in their fully-fledged forms. Providing additional subtext to each character on the fly, Toy Story 4 never wastes any time setting the stage. It’s ready to take off, and this opening sequence is a definite example of proof. However, following the spectacular opening, the remainder of the film does occasionally stumble, usually over weak plot points and thinly constructed character arcs. None of it ruins the experience, in fact, far from it, but their inclusion definitely leaves visible, gaping holes in what is otherwise an instant classic from Pixar Animation.
Continuing the trend of the renowned animation house is the innovative and jaw-dropping animation. Each frame pops with a bright and vivid color pallet; none of which is hampered by either overly processed set pieces or under-utilized assets. Every object feels like it takes center stage, ranking the work as one of the best feats in animation. There just hasn’t been anything like it, including real-time rendering as well.
Marking one of our shortest reviews ever, there isn’t much need to discuss Toy Story 4 that would be valuable. It’s a fantastic flourish of the usual delights mixed in with new elements that both surprise and shock. It lives up to its namesake with ease, settling in smoothly with its predecessors. And to top it all off, it reworks the finality of the third installment to be more open yet infinitely more satisfying. Additionally, even if my thoughts were mixed at best, the film would easily crack a hundred million on its opening weekend domestically. What an achievement.