Over the years, Pixar has become the leader in computer animation. Each one of their films steps the technology forward, each offering something the prior did or could not. All of their films achieve classic status, their worst often well ahead of other studios' best. Now, for the first time, Pixar (and parent company Disney) have gone back and revisited two of their earliest efforts, including the very first computer animated feature film, and returned them to the big screen for a brief two-week run. What did they do to these movies to make a re-release worthwhile? Why, they reworked them into 3D, of course! That begs the question: are they worth a theatrical revisit? The answer to that is a resounding "yes!"
I have a feeling that this current run of 3D releases is going to wear out its welcome sooner rather than later. It seems like every other movie announcement is for a 3D title. That said, if Disney/Pixar wants to continue releases like this, I will be there for every one. This is the second Disney release to get the 3D treatment after The Nightmare Before Christmas a few years ago, and they've had annual re-releases each year since.
The screening of the double feature was sold out. The theater was filled with people young and old, all ready for the experience. The room was buzzing — you could feel the electricity in the air as fans and newcomers alike were ready to revisit the dawn of Pixar's big screen dominance.
The evening began with trailers, including one for the highly anticipated Toy Story 3, which is coming next June. This brought the first cheer from the crowd. It looks pretty good — I mean it is Pixar, and there is no doubt I will be there opening day.
After the trailers concluded, in a fashion only Pixar could design, the screen went white and we saw shadows of the characters, as if they were in the booth. We heard their voices behind us as they got the film set, then we got a countdown to the start of the movie. The crowd counted down Woody (Tom Hanks) and cheered as the Disney logo appeared to herald the start of the film.
A ripple of "oohs" and "ahhs" were heard as the 3D effect kicked in. The kids loved it, the adults were taken back, and all at once everyone was 12. The technology added another dimension to the film. I just want to say that it brought the film depth, but that could be taken the wrong way. The film has depth, it has heart, it has character. This technology just makes the already stunning animation pop off the screen. It has no scenes of things popping off the screen into your face, and it doesn't need them.
As the original film ended, to enormous applause, we moved into a ten-minute intermission. Those who chose to remain in their seats were treated to a series of trivia questions and clips from the films. It was cute, it was fun, and it made the time fly by between the films. As the ten minutes came to an end we were treated to another group count-along as the second film began.
Much like the first, we got to see the film with the same added depth the first one got. We all laughed at the jokes, clapped at the heroics, and generally had a great time. Then it was all over. We cheered and clapped as the credits rolled, but we were all rather sad to see it all end.
In addition to the great 3D I was reminded of something while watching. I had not seen either of these films in quite some time and had forgotten just how good they were. The writing is fantastic, bringing together comedy and heart with some great characters, not to mention the animation. The animation holds up very well considering how early in the era these were made.
In short, experiencing this double feature on the big screen was a treat. I got to see a pair of great films with a crowd of excited, like-minded people. It is hard to beat something like that.