Cars 2
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Cars 2




The so called sequel curse is well known and readily demonstrable with live action movies but unfortunately the same phenomenon is now becoming more prevalent with animated feature films. One with that bears evidence to this supposition is ‘Cars 2’. The reasons at the foundation of this hypothesis are the downside of the new technology and increased attention such films has received in recent month the Golden age of full length animated movies was initiated by the Walt Disney studios in 1938 with ‘Snow White’. Back then the method to create a mere minute of screen time required the arduous and meticulous process of hand crafting 1,440 drawings. For just single hour of running time that translates to 86,400 separate cells in order to require what many originally dismissed as a long cartoon. The introduction of technology to this mix served to greatly diminish the time necessary to produce these films. First it was little things that xeroxing the backgrounds which quickly lead to the incorporation of computer design hardware with expertly programmed software explicitly designed to create a new level of animation impossible in previous times. Pixar took this computer pathway and took it to a height that is still unimaginable consistently amazing the audience. This brings us back to the point under inspection and on to the consideration of the film at hand.

With the technical process involved in the manufacturer on the movie the time previously required in the endless hand crafting of so many drawings could now be redirected, focused on the production values of the story and character development. This aspect was already well developed in the venue of traditional animation by Disney but their combination with Pixar allowed for the marriage of technical excellence with master craft story telling. The audience has responded to these advancements with a growing sophistication evident in even the younger members of the audience. Small children used to be easily amused by semi-realistic animation but this generation has come along in a time when computer driven wonders are common place. They now demand a solidly constructed story to accompany the state of the art animation and regrettably this is the major short coming of ‘Cars 2’. The technique employed here, especially with this new Blu-ray 3D edition is amazing but this is no longer sufficient to make a great animated film. Animation has fought for and for the most part has won parity with live action movies. They have their own Academy Award category and achieved the lauded combination of box office and critical excellence so it is time to fully demand the stories be up to those new standards. ‘Cars 2’ is fun but did not attain its potential.

In typical fashion for any sequel this one attempts to up the ante by taking the familiar characters and placing them in an expanded environment. In this the action is amped up and new cars are brought out of the garage to challenge our favorite cars. When the last race for the coveted Piston Cup championship ends in a tie an additional race between the three contenders is called for. The cars that must compete again are; Strip Weathers (Voiced by Richard Petty), Chick Hicks (voiced by Michael Keaton, and Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson). Strip is the seasoned victor ready to step down, Chick the traditional runner-up and Lightening, the upstart newcomer. Admittedly this is a proven character spread for a human oriented sports film nicely placed to permit a means for the adults watching to feel that they are in familiar surroundings. This does help offset the use of the cars that is intentionally targeting the younger set. The action centers on the trials and tribulations of Lightening as he travels out west to prepare for the all important competition. He is accompanied by his trusty friend, Mack (voiced by John Ratzenberger), the Mack truck and fan favorite from the first flick, Mater (voiced by Larry the cable Guy), a homespun harvester. It is incredible the number of well known actors lend their voices to projects like this. In this film you can hear the distinctive vocal talents as Paul Newman, Tony Shalhoub, Bonnie Hunt and he late, great comedian George Carllin. While the ingredients are all present in good measure the end product falls short. It is predicable and presents so many characters that there is insufficient opportunity to properly develop them. In this post Wall-E period even the kids expect better attention paid to bringing the characters to life.

The good news here is the film translates extremely well to 3D embracing the high technology better than many of its contemporaries. Disney has been revisiting its famous canon of animated movies remastering then to bring out a third dimension. While many of their vintage classics require a lot of rework to accomplish this task movies from Pixar inherently have the proper elements required to give the feeling of solidity. Traditionally there are known issues with parsing the available number of pixel to create this added dimension. This usually results in a noticeable softness in the resolution and muting of the color palette. In this case the edges are not quite up to the high definition Blu-ray standards ‘Cars 2’ shows this studio is making great strides to address it. The colors are bright and help the images pop off the screen in a realistic fashion. Pixar is also greatly adept at using the third dimension as in integral part of the image instead of relying on in your face exploitation of the technology. The audio is reference quality providing a sound field as solid and real as the video. This five disc set contains discs dedicated to every possible way of viewing including 3D, Blu-ray standard DVD and digital copy. The remainder is devoted to a broad range of extras.


Disc 1 (Blu-ray 3D):

bulletCars Toon: Air Mater in 3D

Disc 2 (Blu-ray):

bulletCars Toon: Air Mater
bulletHawaiian Vacation Theatrical Short
bulletDirector's Commentary

Disc 3 (Blu-ray):

bulletSneak Peek: The Nuts & Bolts Of Cars Land
bulletWorld Tour- Choose Your Own Adventure With Interactive Access To Deleted Scenes, Documentaries, Animation And More From Different Locations In The Movie:
bullet·Radiator Springs
bullet·Tokyo and More

Disc 4 (DVD):

bulletCars Toon: Air Mater
bulletHawaiian Vacation Theatrical Short
bulletDirector's Commentary

Disc 5:

bulletDigital Copy Of Feature Film

Posted 10/29/11

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