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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - November, 2011

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"Cars 2 3D" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Adrian Wittenberg

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Synopsis


British intelligence agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) is on a reconnaissance mission, investigating a clandestine plot involving a gang of clunker cars and an electro magnetic pulse emitter that is disguised as a camera. Meanwhile, best friends Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) are having fun in Radiator Springs exploring the surroundings and barely staying out of trouble.  While McQueen is on a date with his girlfriend Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Mater overhears a Mel Dorado (Patrick Walker) television show discussing the World Grand Prix, an international car race sponsored by Sir Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard) to promote his alternative fuel called Allinol.  When Mel Dorado and formula race car Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) comment on the show that Lightning McQueen won't be competing in the race because of needing some time off, Mater quickly calls into the television show and boasts that his friend Lightning McQueen is the fastest race car in the world and could race circles around Berrnoulli.  With the gauntlet thrown down,  Sir Miles Axelrod invites McQueen and his pit crew to compete in the race.  McQueen accepts the challenge and together with Mater, they depart to Tokyo Japan, the location of the first race.  While McQueen concentrates on winning the race, the clunker car gang plans to use their E.M.P. weapon on the cars in the race to make Allinol look like an unsafe fuel alternative.  Mater is mistaken for a special intelligence agent and becomes distracted from helping McQueen win the race as he helps Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) discover the unknown villain who is behind the plot to make Allinol look bad.

Specifications

  • Disney/Pixar
  • 2010, Color, Rated G, 1 hr 46 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Codec: MPEG-4 MVC
  • 1080p
  • English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
  • Michael Caine, Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy
  • Directed by Brad Lewis, John Lasseter
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Comic
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary


Cars 2 is all about expanding the cars world, introducing new characters, and putting the familiar characters that are loved from the first Cars movie into places that you would never expect to see them such as Tokyo Japan, or London England.  Seeing Mater fumble his way through Japanese culture is often times hilarious such as when he has mistaken wasabi for pistachio ice cream. New characters such as Finn McMissile, Holley Shiftwell, and Professor Zundapp are completely stylish and would transition to becoming fun child's toys very easily, something that Pixar loves to do. While many Pixar films have a deeper emotional impact and spend quite a bit of time on character development, Cars 2 is more of a straightforward spy action flick that feels like a good 007 adventure.  Pixar films appeal to all age groups and many of the situations and quick comedic timing make this film one that can be enjoyed by the whole family, however younger viewers will probably enjoy this film greatly.  Michael Caine was great as Finn McMissile and his interaction with Larry the Cable guy added some dimension to the movie.  While the film is lighthearted and the voice acting talent brings the film to life, fans of the Cars series will be completely satisfied by the immaculate attention to detail and extent that Pixar has car-i-fied the different environments in the film such as with Tokyo and the Italian Riviera.  My favorite instance of this is when Mater in Tokyo comments to the car zen worker who is tending to the sand/stone garden "You done good, you got all the leaves out."  Cars 2 is a 3D release and the 3D effects in the film are primarily used to add depth and dimension to the film rather than create any kind of gimmicky effect.  That being said, watching this film looks spectacular in either 2D or 3D.  The 3D effects are used most often to extend the landscapes of the scenes such as when Mater and McQueen are riding back on the road into radiator springs and the sunset and horizon seem to go on forever.  Another one of my favorite 3D scenes is when Finn McMissile and Mater are escaping the airport while being chased by some of the lemon cars out to get them.  Like some of the other recent Pixar releases Cars 2 doesn't need 3D to make it a good movie, however it is easily Pixar's best implementation of 3D to date.

Technical


Pixar, not only produces reference quality video and audio in their films, they raise the bar for everyone else to follow.  The level of detail in Cars 2 is truly amazing and the picture quality is absolutely stunning from start to finish.  There is a wide color palette with scenes offering bright saturated colors such as in the many neon signs that populate the Tokyo nighttime environments as well as more subtle relaxed tones such as in the plains and grassy areas of Radiator Springs.  The amount of realism that is present in the opening scenes with the ocean, boats, and the oil derricks is a tribute to how intricate computer animation has become.  The blacks and darker scenes in Cars 2 have great depth and variation and give the film enough of a pop so that watching it in 2D will have that three dimensional wow look.  The video quality on this film is as good as it gets.  Sound presentation in the DTS 7.1 Master Audio film is reference quality and there is excellent use of surrounds as well as the LFE channel from either the race car work or from the plot line of the spy adventure.  The sound presentation in the race scenes in particular is absolutely stunning. Voices sound immaculate and are blended into the film perfectly.  Cars 2 is my new reference title for both sound and video.


Extras


The five disc version of Cars 2 is chock full of extra features ranging from audio commentary, to short films, to making of featurettes.  The entire package has a ton of material and I found much of it entertaining and enlightening.  Pixar fans will be happy to receive both the Air Mater short film as well as Hawaiian Vacation, a Toy Story short in which the Toy Story characters create a mock up Hawaiian vacation for Barbie and Ken.  Air Mater, directed by Robb Gibbs is also presented in 3D, and is a very entertaining short film where everyone gets to see Mater take to the skies.