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Buzz Cut

Collector's edition of 'Toy Story' films is loaded with special features; batch of Bonds released on DVD.

October 19, 2000|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Disney and Pixar's "Special Collector's Edition Ultimate Toy Box" is an exhausting, expensive ($70) but exhilarating experience.

The three-disc boxed set features both "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2"--each loaded with goodies--plus an entire disc filled to the brim with supplemental materials. All three discs benefit greatly by the childlike enthusiasm of filmmakers John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon, who serve as on-camera guides through the abundance of features.

This special edition includes the wide-screen version of the award-winning computer-animated 1995 blockbuster "Toy Story," which introduced the world to the beloved toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear. The disc includes the adorable 1988 Oscar-winning Pixar short, "Tin Toy," which was a precursor to "Toy Story."

There's also audio commentary by the filmmakers, including director Lasseter, on-set interviews with Woody and Buzz Lightyear, "Toy Story Treats" (very funny interstitial shorts that aired on ABC's Saturday morning cartoon lineup), a clever clip reel of a scene from the movie dubbed into more than 20 languages, and a "making of" featurette.

The disc of "Toy Story 2," the equally enchanting 1999 sequel that finds Buzz and the gang rescuing Woody from an evil toy collector, also features a beautiful wide-screen transfer, audio commentary from the filmmakers, a series of very funny outtakes, a sneak peek at Disney/Pixar's upcoming feature, "Monsters, Inc." and the 1986 Oscar-nominated Pixar short, "Luxo Jr."

The supplemental disc features the story behind the two films, which includes interviews with Lasseter, Stanton, Unkrich, Brannon and Disney executives Peter Schneider and Thomas Shumacher.

Lasseter and company also explain and demonstrate how the computer-animated films are put together--from the script to storyboards to character designers to sculptures to 3-D computer models. There's also a look at the concept art and design used to create the bedroom of the toys' young owner, Andy, as well as Big Al's Toy Barn.

Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rystrom demonstrates how the visuals and sounds are mixed together. Lasseter talks about concepts that were abandoned for "Toy Story" but then found their way into "Toy Story 2." Originally, "Toy Story" was supposed to open with a two-dimensional, traditionally animated Buzz Lightyear cartoon, but the filmmakers realized that would take away from the fact that Woody was Andy's favorite toy. They reworked that concept for "Toy Story 2," which opens with a computer-animated Buzz Lightyear cartoon.

There are also interesting flyaround tours of 11 sets from the films, including Andy's room, Sid's room and Zurg's planet, which actually was a revamped set from "A Bug's Life," Disney and Pixar's 1998 hit.

Other delights on the supplement disc include movie trailers, TV commercials, a guide to the numerous hidden jokes in "Toy Story 2," music videos, song demos, a look at who is the coolest toy character and very funny interviews with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, who are the voices of Woody and Buzz, respectively.

And for those who don't want all the bells and whistles, there's a two-disc set ($40) that also includes the movies plus the animated shorts.

*

This week, MGM Home Entertainment unveils the third wave of its James Bond Collection on DVD($135 for the set; $27 each). "Diamonds Are Forever," "From Russia With Love," "Octopussy," "The Living Daylights," "A View to A Kill" and "You Only Live Twice" are presented in wide-screen and have been restored and remastered in THX sound. Each disc includes audio commentaries with directors and crew, documentaries, featurettes, interviews, trailers and TV spots.

Also new this week from Columbia TriStar Home Video is the handsome special edition of the 1994 box-office hit "Legends of the Fall" ($30). The sprawling Western about three brothers, their father and the women who changes all of their lives stars Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Julia Ormand, Henry Thomas and Aidan Quinn. The digital edition includes a gorgeous wide-screen transfer of "Legends," for which John Toll won an Oscar for his breathtaking cinematography.

James Horner's haunting musical score is featured on an isolated track. There are also talent films, a behind-the-scenes documentary and an intriguing production design featurette that contains interviews with production designer Lilly Kilvert and director Ed Zwick.

Zwick also supplies commentary for three deleted scenes, including an extensive World War I battlefield sequence involving Pitt and Thomas. There are also two separate audio commentary tracks--one with Toll and Kilvert and the other with Zwick and Pitt. Both the director and star are laid-back and fun. Pitt, who tends to mumble in commentaries, is understandable this time out.

*

One of this year's most enjoyable films is Jackie Chan's Western comedy, "Shanghai Noon" (Touchstone, $30). The new digital edition is equally fun.

Included on the disc are production stills, bios, a music video and several deleted scenes, complete with commentary by director Tom Dey and co-star Owen Wilson. Among the deleted scenes is an elaborate train crash and explosion involving Chan that was cut because it slowed the pace of the film.

The three "making of" documentaries are more informative than the usual fare found on DVD and amply illustrate how Chan and his stuntmen work out the amazing stunts and fight sequences. Dey even goes so far, or maybe too far, as to compare Chan to the legendary silent film comedian and filmmaker Buster Keaton. Dey, Wilson and Chan are in top form on the audio commentary, though Chan's English is still a little difficult to decipher at times.

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