Cars 2 Reviews
The problem with Cars 2 is it really is the mater show. My daughter liked the entire movie. But to me it was James Bond with mater. Unfortunately for me Larry the Cable Guy is not my cup of tea and his humor ratcheted it up to be every minute of the show was a bit much to me.
The good parts of Cars 2 is that everyone else does actually do well in their parts and makes it worth while. By far not the best Pixar movie but far from horrible. My daughter enjoyed the whole thing from beginning to end and was extremely happy.
John Lassiter, the head Pixar guru, must have drooled over making a Cars version of the James Bond spy films - and he pulls no punches here, including an Austin Martin spy mobile voiced by Michael Caine (truly the best sequences of the film, as is the case with just about any film with Michael). The beginning sequence of spyness, showing all the cool things the Austin Martin can do is imaginative and fun - but then we return to our regularly scheduled broadcast involving the triumphant return of Lightning McQueen to Radiator Springs (although there is a bit of fun as Mater disguises himself as a snooty waiter at the classy restaurant).
After this bit the film becomes a road film with McQueen and Mater traveling to exotic locations as McQueen competes in the first ever World Cup. Of course, being a spy film there is an evil genius who has a laser type weapon (shades of Goldfinger and Golden Eye) that Michael Caine is trying to thwart and in an amusing sequence, somehow Mater gets involved.
As is the case with almost all animated features, one has to look at the film with an eye towards both types of audience; the children and the parents who perforce have to accompany the viewing. The thin line is trying to dumb down the messages and have silly things for the kiddies to adore, while having enough eye candy and adult puns and such to keep the parents from going comatose. The great films walk this tightrope with panache - here, the message is way too obvious and while, for the most part I enjoyed the name puns, the inclusion of all the lemon cars, and the offtimes stunning artwork (once they get out of Tokyo and all the insane neon lights) - yet still, the film seemed to lack that spark or soul that makes the best Pixar efforts really shine.
So, what's the final analysis? For children, I'm sure the story line and racing sequences and totally G rated emotional content were satisfying enough, but while I appreciated the spy angle it's hard to get behind the Cars as people concept, and in spite of some laughable sequences and fun puns (Brent Mustangburger - oh yeah!), there just isn't enough genius on display here (although if you look closely you can see the classic Alpha Romeo grill on the façade of an Italian church). I'm reminded somehow of Transformers - fun to look at, but somehow not something you can get emotionally attached to in any way (unlike say Toy Story).
3/0* out of 5
Review originally written 6/25/2011
Star race car Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix race. But the road to the championship becomes rocky as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage.
If the idea of a world inhabited by living vehicles seemed a bit forced in Cars, the introduction of an action and espionage plot seems even more incongruent in this sequel, and I could not ignore all the logical holes that doubtful premise provokes (two examples: Why are there traditional houses in Paris and benches on the Tamesis' shore? Why does the Pope need a Popemobile?). In other words, Cars 2 is a much more childish film than the original one, despite the presence of action scenes, villains and heroes killing their opponents and mortal risks for innocent characters. As for the action scenes, they are well choreographed, but they rarely produce any suspense or emotion.
Another problem is that the simpleton Mater is the main character in here, something which is consistent with the lighter tone from the screenplay...but at the same time, that makes the movie lose the generally efficient balance of humor and drama from the original film. At least, we have the solid voice acting from Michael Caine as a James Bond parody, and from Emily Mortimer as a rookie agent who must defeat her insecurities in order to save the situation; they both bring energy and personality to their voices. In the technical aspect, Cars 2 surpasses its predecessor with a better image quality, more expression on the characters and excellent special effects. In conclusion, I can give a slight recommendation to Cars 2, mainly because it is moderately entertaining after all. However, I also found it mediocre, and I think that it betrays Pixar's integrity, due to the fact that this mainly feels like a merely commercial project.
Director: Brad Lewis, John Lasseter
Summary: Owen Wilson once again voices speedy race car Lightning McQueen in this peppy sequel to the animated hit Cars. When he heads off to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix, Lightning also rolls straight into a case of international intrigue.
My Thoughts: "In my opinion, it's better then the last film. I enjoyed the story and the character's so much more in this film then I did in the last. Larry is very funny as Mater and I loved the newly added character's. I wouldn't mind seeing this one again."
Cars 2 is not only dull and uninspired, but it's a depressingly lazy effort from Lasseter. I dislike this film not because I expected more from Pixar. I dislike it because it sucks.
With that said, I am not a fan of Mater, and the fact that he's essentially the main character of the movie is not exactly my cup of tea. I can completely understand how kiddos love him and find him hilarious, but he annoys me to no end. So, as much as I enjoyed some parts of Cars 2 (including the addition of Emily Mortimer, who automatically makes anything better), I can't say I'll be eager to see it again soon. It's bright, vivid and looks amazing, and there's a nice little story of being true to oneself at the heart of it, but the Mater overload is just too much for me.
Cars 2 can't compare to the best Pixar has to offer, but there's a 99.99% chance that there's a young one in your life that will have a blast watching it (and playing with the toys that you're inevitably going to have to purchase afterwards).
The animation is amazing. Water, large balloons, backgrounds during races... pay attention because the quality of the graphics in this one are world-class. There are some goofy, funny moments and some nice one- liners for the older crowd. The themes of being true to yourself and bonds of friendship run strong throughout this film but it's the remainder of the message that worried me.
I can see this entire movie was based around Matar (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) and that is what made it funny. But for some people there was to much of him and not enough of the original Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson).
The voices do what they do best. Director John Lasseter knows what to do in this movie. The action keeps everything moving. Watching the car fighting scenes is like watching a kid playing his little toy cars and let them do something fun. Which is pretty impressive.