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Title: Cars 2
Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro
Directed by: John Lassiter
Written by: John Lassiter
Studio: PIXAR/Disney
Rated: G
Runtime: 106 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: 11/2/2011

Movie: :3stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :5stars:
HTS Overall Score:92


Star racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places in Cars 2 when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world's fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and the stunning spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).

The movie begins as super spy Finn McMissile on his latest secret mission to infiltrate an oil drilling platform in the middle of the ocean. As Finn is observing the goings on of the secret organization he has been tasked with investigating, he bears witness to the destruction of one of his fellow spies. Taken aback by what he has just witnessed, Finn unknowingly exposes himself to his foes thus forcing him to abort the mission and make a speedy getaway.

The movie cuts to Radiator Springs where Tow-Mater is helping a town resident who has stalled on the side of the road while Mater also patiently, well actually impatiently awaits the arrival of his best friend Lightning McQueen. Once McQueen arrives, the two friends spend the day dump-truck tipping, racing and getting into trouble. As the day winds down, McQueen informs Mater that for the rest of the night he would rather spend his time with Sally, McQueen’s girlfriend, but he assures Mater that they will pick up the next day where they left off.

A bit later, as Sally and McQueen are starting their dinner at the restaurant, they are interrupted by Mater who informs them that he will be their waiter for the evening. On the TV inside the restaurant there is a call in show playing and the guest on the show is a snooty Italian F1 Francesco Bernoulli (Turturro) who is bragging about his abilities and calling out McQueen to race him in the upcoming first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world's fastest car. After a bit of coaxing, McQueen accepts the challenge and the whole crew is off on a world wind adventure that will test their skills and their friendships.

There were a lot of things that I could have done without in this movie. For instance, the whole alternative fuel thing was a too preachy, but it wasn’t near as preachy as the “big oil companies are evil and must be stopped” theme that ran throughout the film. Sadly, John Lassiter and his crew of talented animators and story tellers has reduced the wonderful characters from Radiator Springs to being the spokesmen for an alternative fuel agenda and it just gets on your nerves after a while. Additionally, the script isn’t that cute or funny and relies heavily on Larry the Cable Guy and his delivery more than it does on the content. This was a monumentally missed opportunity to expand the world of a great cast of characters.

The cast even sounds like they are just going through the motions and the film as a whole feels uninspired. Take for instance TurTurro’s Francesco Bernoulli; it’s the same voice that he uses in Mr. Deeds and in The Big Lebowski. Larry the Cable Guy even pulls in some of his stand-up routine (that’s funny right there). It all gets tiring very quickly. Most of the original cast is either left out or minimized because of location. Philmore obviously had to be replaced due to the death of George Carlin a while back and Doc Hudson who was voiced by Paul Newman in the original was gone with a museum in his honor, but without explanation. Maybe I am being overly critical, but I think the ideas being put forward and the execution was just poorly done and comes across as a statement on society and a money grab.

Rated G for General audiences.

Video: :5stars:
What can I say; it’s PIXAR. Did anyone believe that this would be anything less than a reference quality video transfer? The colors just explode onto the screen with vivid rendering and perfect resolution. The darker scenes and black levels are inky and have infinite depth. This is a truly exceptional video transfer with tons of detail and absolutely zero deficiencies. I can't say enough about the color rendering on this disc. It's hard to think of an equal presentation in this regard. Even Toy Story 3 seems a little less vivid next to Cars 2!

Audio: :5stars:
Again, is it a surprise that PIXAR put out a 5 Star audio quality presentation? I think not. The only bad thing about this audio was that I had inadvertently pulled the sub cable out of the back of my DSP1124 and went 20 minutes without the sub running (DOH!). Once I made the proper adjustment, the LFE kicked in and it rocked with very throaty and authoritative LFE. Mids were equally impressive as the cars roared by during the racing sequences and chase scenes. I didn’t care that much for the choice of music in the film, but the presentation of it was perfect.

Extras: :5stars:

Disc 1:
  • Air Mater in 3D

Disc 2
  • Air Mater (2D)
  • Hawaiian Vacation
  • Directors Commentary

Disc 3
  • The Nuts & Bolts of Cars Land
  • World Tour Interactive
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital Copy
  • BD-Live enabled

Overall: :4.5stars:
To me, Cars 2 just never captures any of the magic of the original film. I found its preachy message about alternative fuel and evil corporations to be borderline indoctrination of the films targeted audience. With half-hearted performances and a poor script, I find it hard to recommend a buy on this one no matter how good the AQ and PQ are. It’s just not the type of film I could see myself putting in for repeated viewings. Hopefully PIXAR’s next adventure titled ‘Brave’ and due next summer will bring something fresh from the company that brought us so many wonderful characters in the past. All that being said, I am sure that the young ones will enjoy it thoroughly for all of the brilliant colors and character voices, but if you are looking for a strong follow up to the already classic original; this isn’t it.

Recommendation: Rent It!
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