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Cars 2 - Blu-ray Movie Review

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Cars 2 - Movie Review

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4 stars

Pixar’s revved-up sequel of their 2006 hit film, Cars, is indeed a triumphant overhaul of a film that usually gets dismissed as the least favorite of their titles.  It’s a shiny endeavor that results in the rarest of achievements in that it is actually much better than the original.  Retooled and redesigned to place Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) in the backseat and let Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) do the driving, Cars 2 works in its change of location and its change of pace.  While not as emotionally resounding as we’ve come to expect from the studio, Cars 2 is a breezy return to some old school Pixar charm and we are all the merrier for it.

Directed by John Lasseter, Cars 2 leaves the nostalgia-fueled Americana of the original and injects the narrative with a bit of spy-driven intrigue courtesy of the inclusion of the Bond-like spy Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) and his suave associate Holley Shiftwell (breathlessly voiced by Emily Mortimer) as they work with Mater – mistaking his dimwitted behavior as the disguise of their American contact – to defeat the gas-guzzling plans of Professor Z (Thomas Kretschmann) and his minions of cars deemed by the public as lemons.

The globe-trotting of spies and villains occur because Lightning has his own troubles on the racing track.  Challenged to an Allinol-fueled race around the world by Francesco Bernoulli (wonderfully voiced by John Turturro), Lightning finds his faith in friendship shaken and challenged by Mater’s socially inept behavior and the alternative fuel creator Miles Axlerod (voiced by Eddie Izzard).  Written by Lasseter, Brad Lewis, and Donald Fogelman, Cars 2 fires on all cylinders because – even when it softly kicks in the “be yourself or be damned” theme – it never loses it sharp sense of kid-friendly play.

With exciting (if not groundbreaking) visuals that absolutely explode with 3D vivaciousness, Cars 2 is a dynamic film to be immersed in.  The world trip-hopping locations (Pairs, London, Italy, Tokyo, and Radiator Springs) are breathlessly recreated by this team of 3D animators and designers and – throughout the picture – nod to other Pixar classics (Hint: watch the backgrounds closely).  The otherworldly designs of Tokyo and its pop culture are neon nuggets of heaven.  Even Italian Riveria gets the Pixar makeover and it is certainly a savory experience of delectable delight.

For those audiences put off by Larry the Cable Guy’s dimmer-than-dumb vocals and attitude, the smoothness of new arrivals Mortimer and Caine will certainly balance out the “American Abroad” routine.  The humor is a bit on the lowbrow side as this is Mater’s movie to dominate.  While he never shakes his homegrown hangover of rural theatrics, there is a certain appeal to his nyuk-nyuk-nyuking about this time out.  He never loses the familiar rust, though and the picture, focusing more on instamatic gags and boyish toiletries for its humor, seems a bit sillier.

With a scope that is much larger than the town limits of Radiator Springs and a heart that is somewhat smaller, Pixar reinvents that roadmap that was Cars and brings us a dynamic sequel that is a cool and fun ride.  It’s isn’t nearly as smart as the streak they’ve been on, but the studio also doesn’t disappoint with a less-than inspired storyline.  Every missel of criticism launched at Cars 2 for being more kid-centered by including the non-stop banterrific staples of a typical kid’s movie formula can be deflected by a simple wave of the hand because, even the crude material, Pixar handles with a sense of style and class.

There really is no competition in a race between the first film and its 2011 sequel.  No neck-and-neck moments; no nail-biting at the finish lines.  Cars 2, being breezier and more streamlined, is the clear winner.

{2jtab: Film Info}

Cars 2 - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: G for general audiences.
Director
: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Writer: Ben Queen
Cast:
Owen Wilson; Larry the Cable Guy; Michael Caine; Emily Mortimer; Eddie Izzard; John Turturro; Joe Mantegna
Genre: Animated | family
Tagline:
Cars 2
Memorable Movie Quote: "Instead of saying "ka-chow," he's gonna go "ka-boom!"
Distributor:
Pixar
Official Site:
disney.go.com/cars/?cmp=dmov_dpic_car_url_dcomcars
Release Date: June 24, 2011
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 1, 2011

Synopsis:
Racing star Lightning McQueen teams up with his best friend Mater for an international adventure as they go up against the world's fastest cars.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

Cars 2 - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 1, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 ES; Spanish: DTS-HD HR 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX; English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Note: Spanish (Mexicano) Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track also available
Discs:
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy

Full of lots of crank, colors, and caffeine, Disney’s 1080p/MVC-encoded video presentation is a crushingly beautiful experience.  The characters, defined by rich lines of detail and contrast, literally explode from the television screen.  The world locations are neon-dynamics and pop with perfection.  Shadows are deep and never bleed through.  Lines are consistently defined and colors literally catch fire with deep and full-throttled explosions of might.  The layered detail is a revelation to the eyes.  With a sound that doesn’t stall out – presented in a fine DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track – there is no losing with a purchase of this release. Cars 2 is perfection.  There simply is no other film that looks and sounds as dynamic as this transfer.  Pixar has done it once again.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Provided by directors John Lasseter and Brad Lewis, the commentary track is, in itself, a sort of non-stop race that discusses the beginning of the film clear through to the finished project.  Cars 2 might have been the poorest reviewed Pixar release to date, but its directors present their information with an unmatched enthusiasm for the project that is to be applauded.

Special Features:

While the 3D five-disc version seems to be the route to go, please note that per our schedule, only the two disc version of Cars 2 was reviewed.  Contained on the two-disc version are the shorts “Hawaiian Vacation” and “Car Toon” along with the commentaries and trailers for Pixar's Brave, Disney’s Planes, The Muppets, Lady and the Tramp, Cars 2: The Videogame, Naughty vs. Nice and Secret of the Wings.

  • Hawaiian Vacation (6 min)
  • Air Mater (6 min)
  • Sneak Peeks (10 min)

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