Sunday, 11 January 2015

Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)

The second mini Toy Story adventure, could this count as Toy Story 5? ('Toy Story of Terror' being number 4) or maybe Toy Story 3.2? Seeing as these mini adventures are around half an hour in length and utilise the original cast (unlike a crappy spin-off), they are legit, proper canon if you will and clearly a continuation in continuity from the movie trilogy, anyway...

The last adventure still had old fashioned toys from back in the day like the Carl Weathers based character who was clearly an Action Man. This time things have moved on a tad and the toys in question are more modern but they still have that classic late 80's early 90's buzz about them (no pun intended...or was it?). This time the gang meet up with a huge selection of armour clad dinosaur warriors called Battlesaurs which are a perfect example of classic hybrid action figure franchises which would blend genres like dinosaurs, mutants, space weaponry, medieval armour etc...A good example being Zoids which were basically robotic dinosaurs and creatures with heavy armour, lasers and gun turrets, although they weren't action figures but wind up model kits.

The design of these Battlesaurs is really impressive I must say, they really do look like a genuine well thought out toy line...and of course now they are. Visually the main dino characters kinda reminded me of the main action figure from Joe Dante's movie 'Small Soldiers'. Not exactly of course but a similar type of idea using the barbarian loin cloth and heavy weapons vibe. The other characters are a wicked mix of creatures big and small and lots of action figure playsets that make up the Battlesaurs realm...which is cleverly woven into the little boys bedroom.

The plot is simple enough and revolves around a small transporter team of the classic toys going to another child's house for a play date. There they meet this tribe of butch dino warriors who (like Buzz originally) don't understand they are merely toys. From there on its the predictable setup of trying to escape from their clutches whilst trying to save Buzz and Woody, yep this time its Trixie the blue toy dinosaur who is the lead hero character.

So as you can guess dinosaurs are the main theme here, there is definitely a dinosaur fetish in Hollywood these days. Truth be told Purcell does actually reuse many recent cinematic cliches here, lots of dinosaurs, the old barbarian angle and once again a heavy influence of Ridley Scott's 'Gladiator'. But you can also mention the nice homage to the old fantasy movies of Doug McClure, obviously with the title, certain visuals and poster design. The best sequence in this mini episode for me was the entire gladiatorial arena battle which obviously took references from many films. The idea of random toys being paraded into the arena to fight to the death or until broken was brilliant. I also loved the variation of toy characters on display which all looked really realistic and exactly how you remember your old action figure toys...stuffing figures into a large toy creatures mouth only to lose them forever.

There really is nothing overly original about any of this honesty, we've seen it all before in various forms even though this is a parody and homage. Admittedly the whole notion of toys not understanding they are toys and feeling left out when their owner doesn't play with them is getting a bit old now. This angle has been covered well and truly and this short episode does rehash that basic idea yet again. Yet if we saw a Lego movie version of this it would still probably be top banana despite the huge originality flaws, why? because both franchises look terrific, they're fun and retrotastic.

Like all the other Toy Story features this is visually glorious, the characters are all created and performed perfectly and I can't deny its still great fun to watch and briefly recapture your youth seeing all these toys. Basically its now been done but its still inspired and better than the previous TV special.