|Cars 2 (3D/2D) (2011)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 31 October 2011|
In all fairness, it is really difficult for a studio turn out hit after hit as expectations keep increasing. 10 years ago this would be an instant classic for based on its time of inception. However, now that we have seen what the studio has to offer, “Cars 2” leaves us a bit indifferent.
The film does not suffer in a technical way, but in a storytelling way. The film lacks a gripping story and is told in bits and pieces, failing to really connect with audiences. There is a bit of fun and some better than most action movie chase and action sequences. Still, this doesn’t make up for the lack of an interesting story.
The creators were close to turning out another gem, but their decision to put Mater in the driver’s seat of the sequel was a poor choice. It is this downfall that keeps the film from succeeding. Lightning McQueen plays only a minor part in the film, Sally is relegated to a benched role and the other familiar characters only pop up every now and then. The new characters also lack a primary focus in comparison with Mater. Mater is a great character, but one that only really works as a secondary. There is only so much audiences can take of the bumbling fool before it becomes irritating.
I must admit, I didn’t really think this film was going to succeed from the moment I saw the initial trailers way back when. Of course those trailers were a bit misleading. They didn’t inform you of Mater’s role. Nevertheless, the concept of spy cars in the sequel seemed odd. In this case, the sequel seems to be more a spinoff since the characters remain familiar but the story is completely off the beaten path.
In the sequel, Lightning McQueen and his crew, this time includingMater, head for the World Grand Prix Race. This race is held to provethat Allinol is a better alternative to gasoline. Meanwhile, McQueenand a rival Italian race car, Bernoulli, butt heads. The grand prixrace consists of three races, the first in Japan, then Italy and thenLondon. Each race results in more racing accidents, which we know to bethe work of an evil group of “lemon” or “beater” cars. The onlymystery here is who the mastermind behind the “lemon” cars really is. Of course, anyone with half a brain can figure that one out. So really,the film relies on fancy action sequences and tricked out animatedcars.
In Japan, Mater gets caught up in a spy plot. Given his below averageintelligence, he doesn’t realize what is going on until way into thegame. Of course, Mater turns out to be a hero and all is well, butthere is just no real connection to the characters other than anostalgic feeling for the original film.
“Cars 2” is the next in the 3D line-up from Disney/Pixar, following“Tangled” and “Gnomeo & Juliet.” In terms of video quality, we havea real winner here. Before I begin on the astounding nature of the 3Dquality, let me just preface this by saying that 3D animation has a legup on live-action 3D. Obviously, more time can be spent in perfectingthe 3D quality in computer animation than when dealing with live actionfootage. That being said, “Cars 2” delivers the best 3D experience ofthe year. No question about it. Despite the film itself, you may findyourself watching this film a few times over just to satiate your 3Dneed. The imagery provides the most eye-popping 3D experience I haveseen in a great while. Every car chase contains visual effects resultsin cars and missiles and bullets flying from the screen. The depth ofthe imagery and the extension of imagery from the screen are vastlysuperior to any previous Blu-ray 3D release. The colors complement the3D imagery perfectly, providing even more eye-popping goodness. You canforget about any artifacting or other compression or digital relatedissues. This is picture perfect. This release alone is worth theupgrade to 3D technology.
Even though the 3D imagery is spectacular that is not to say thatwatching it in 2D is any less astounding. The 3D nature of the 2D imageis tremendous. It is only a preview of what true 3D can offer. However, the 2D image lends itself to vibrant colors and a pitch perfectcontrast and black level. The sharpness of the image is spot on. Ijust can’t rave enough about the imagery. Pixar has done it again interms of technical perfection.
As promised, Disney has accompanied “Cars 2” with native 7.1 audio. TheDTS-HD MA 7.1 audio track is available on both the 2D and 3D Blu-raydiscs. Note: the 3D disc defaults to track 2, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 ES track,so make sure to change the audio setup to track 1. There has been nobetter usage of 7.1 in any movie previous. If you thought “Tron:Legacy” was amazing, you haven’t heard anything yet. The level ofdetail is beyond imaginable. For the first time I found myself trulyimmersed in 7.1. The directionality, localization and panning of eachand every sound effects is spot on regardless of its position on or offscreen. Somehow the designers even found a way to simulate height on a2D audio presentation. Just listen to the position of helicopters andplanes. More than just sound effects are effectively positioned in thesoundfields. The dialogue is not anchored to the center channel as withthe majority of films. You can thank clean voice-over recording forthat. The voices can be panned anywhere without misplacing anyproduction sounds. Just listen to how smoothly voices pan across thefront channels as the virtual camera tilts and rotates. You will notfind a more effective use of 7.1 surround sound than this release.
“Cars 2” comes in a 5-disc package – Blu-ray 3D, two Blu-ray 2D, DVD,Digital Copy. The Blu-ray 3D disc contains the feature in 3D along with“Air Mater” a 3D animated short.
The first of the Blu-ray 2D disc contains the feature along with aDirector’s Audio Commentary. Also on the disc is the “Air Mater” shortin 2D and “Hawaiian Vacation,” a short that is all about “Toy Story 3,”so an odd inclusion here.
The second Blu-ray 2D disc is exclusive to the Blu-ray 3D Combo pack,which may anger some consumers. This means that the majority of specialfeatures are only available on the 3D purchase, which is of course morecostly. The bulk of the special features lay in the Interactive Globeof disc two. This is clunky to navigate, but ultimately offers ninelocations to visit. “Radiator Springs” contains access to an alternateopening, art concepts and an origins featurette. Next is “The Pacific”contains a few making-of pieces, particularly focus on sets and theopening sequence. “London” contains access to another deleted scene aswell as featurettes on the car gadgets/weapons and the development ofparts of the film. “Paris” contains another deleted scene, art conceptsand a short about spy training. In “Munich” you will find two moredeleted scenes and more art concepts. “Prague” contains anotheralternate scene and more art. “Porta Costa” contains two productionfeaturettes, a short and more set explorations. “Tokyo” containsanother deleted scene, two featurettes and more shorts and setexplorations. Finally, we land back at “Emeryville,” which contains amaking of featurette, character animations and a trailer.
“Cars 2” is a great technical release, minus the clunky navigation ofthe special features. It is simply sad that the same cannot be saidabout the story of the film. While casual viewers will find this filmentertaining, many will also find that is doesn’t live up to thestandards of Pixar. I highly recommend the 3D nature and 7.1 audio ofthis release.