Review: Cars 2 Blu-ray

Cars 2 Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Pixar/Walt Disney Studios | DIRECTORS: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis | CAST: Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro, John Ratzenberger, Bonnie Hunt
RELEASE DATE: 11/1/2011 | PRICE: DVD $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack $39.99, DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack $39.99, 5-Disc Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack $49.99,11-Disc 3-Movie Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack $119.99
BONUSES: commentary, short films
SPECS: G | 106 min. | Animated family | 2.39:1 aspect ratio | 7.1 DTS-HD audio | English and Subtitles subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Cars 2 is perhaps Pixar’s worst movie. Of course, I’m talking about a studio that is known for its incredibly high standard, but when you’re used to seeing brilliance, it’s a shame when a film doesn’t deliver.

With sequels, as co-director/writer John Lasseter explains in the commentary on the Blu-ray, Pixar tries to not rehash the plot of the original, instead taking the characters into new scenarios. But, whereas the studio succeeded in the phenomenal Toy Story movies, it took too much of a departure for Cars 2.

Cars 2The movie finds star race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson, How Do You Know) traveling around the world to compete in the World Grand Prix race, a special event sponsored by entrepreneur Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard, Every Day) to promote his new alternative fuel, Allinol. McQueen takes his friends from Radiator Springs, including rusty tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy, Witless Protection), as his pit crew. On the trip, Mater stumbles into helping two British Secret Service agents, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer, Our Idiot Brother), solve a plot to discredit Allinol by blowing up the engines of the race cars.

Where the film falls is in trying to do too much while also staying true to the franchise. Once again, McQueen is reminded about the value of friends, but that storyline plays out as hokey compared to the much more fun spy tale. And although McQueen gets top billing on the Blu-ray cover, he’s a supporting player in this movie — perhaps the biggest departure from the original film and one fans might have a problem accepting. Instead, Mater is the star, and as sweet and well-intentioned the character might be, him acting as a spy is like an animated version of Johnny English. Something we really don’t need.

John Lasseter talks about the reason for the spy storyline in his commentary: He loves spy movies. Maybe he should have created a new spy franchise instead of trying to shoehorn it into this one.

Children will most likely still enjoy the film, but adults will tune out with a lot of the low humor. (Cow tipping a dump truck? Really?)

On the bright side, the high-definition picture is stunning. Pixar’s animation is still of the highest quality, and it’s shown off beautifully, from the racing in Tokyo, to the cars’ trip around Paris’ Arc du Triomph, to the showdown in sunny Italy.

The cars zooming around the tracks sounds awesome in the 7.1 DTS-HD audio. You get the feeling that you could be on the sidelines — if they were real.

Disney went sparse on the special features, which is a surprise. Pixar’s discs are usually some of the best, with quantity and quality, but Cars 2 disappoints here too.

Lasseter keeps things moving and gives lots of behind-the-scenes tidbits in the commentary, mainly how he came up with this part and how came he came up with that part. Co-director Brad Lewis also is in the commentary, but Lasseter takes the lead.

Other than that commentary, the Blu-ray has only two other extras: the short films Hawaiian Vacation and Air Mater. Hawaiian Vacation, which was shown in theaters, is the best. It features the Toy Story gang creating a fake Hawaii so Ken and Barbie can have a vacation and their first kiss. Air Mater stars the tow truck learning to fly — yep, fly. And, most disappointingly, it’s a thinly veiled promotion for Disney’s spin-off movie Planes, which actually looks better than Cars 2 judging by the trailer on the Blu-ray.

Buy or Rent Cars 2
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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.