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CARS 2
5 Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard
Directors: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Disney/Pixar
Features: See Review
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Finn McMissile, British Intelligence.”

Tow Mater...average intelligence.”

Film ***

The cars are back in town, and in for one wild, globe-trotting adventure.

Cars 2 is the sequel to one of the oddest entries to come out of the Disney and Pixar collaboration. I say odd, because the original was colorful, fun, and...well, the characters were all cars. Kind of hard to really buy.

But, the premise fully established, I felt a more sense of welcome when the autos returned for more mayhem and adventure. This is an ambitious, exciting production that suffers only from a muddled environmental message that frankly, in the end, collapses.

Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is still the champion of the racing circuit, but now he makes his off-season home in Radiator Springs, with a colorful cast of characters including his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy).

But a one-time oil profiteer named Axelrod (Izzard) has seen the error of his ways. No more fossil fuels. In a movie where everyone is a car? Might has well have been a movie about humans swearing off water.

No matter...turning himself into an electric car (which wouldn't take me from Jacksonville to Orlando), he introduces the granddaddy of all alternative fuels, and to prove it's worth, stages a worldwide grand prix where all the cars will run on it.

But a nefarious organization of lemons plans to use the event to show the world how bad the alternative fuel is. Enter Finn McMissile (Caine), a British spy with more tricks under his hood than any car in the Fast and Furious series. And through a mistaken identity, our unlikely hero Mater becomes the truck that teams up with him to save the day.

The soapbox is well established, but in the movie, as in real life, there turns out to be no miracle alternative to fossil fuel. I wonder if the environmentally hypnotized staff at Disney even realizes that they pulled the rug out from under their own argument, by admitted that and saving McQueen from a terrible fate by filling his tank with good old gasoline?

No matter...forget the ham-handed preaching and enjoy the ride, which might be one of the most visually striking and thrilling offering from Pixar to date. This is the kind of movie that will make you remember how much you loved playing with toy cars as a kid. We could make them do anything, and the folks at Pixar can, too.

The story is light and inconsequential, but the visual wow and fun factor of the movie save the day. Despite the flaws, this is a superior film to its predecessor, and one of the most fun rides of the year.

Video ****

This is easily the best and most crisp 3D presentation I've had the pleasure to enjoy. Cars2 leaps off the screen with vivid colors and images and brings the action right to the tip of your nose. Some 3D movies are a little over-the-top trying to cash in on the technology, but this is a film where the format feels very right and natural from start to finish.

Audio ****

The DTS HD soundtrack is vibrant and dynamic, with plenty of explosive action and thrilling spectacle to keep all corners of your home theatre working overtime. Dialogue and music are well balanced, but the action is the star. Buckle up and enjoy the experience!

Features ****

This five disc set (no, not a misprint) starts with the 3D Blu-ray, which also includes the 3D animated short “Air Mater”. The second is the 2D version, which also features the Toy Story cast in a short of their own, “Hawaiian Vacation”. The second disc also includes a director commentary.

Disc 3 has all the Blu-ray bonus features, including a sneak peek at “Cars Land”, and an interactive world tour which gives you access to deleted scenes, documentaries, animation tests and much more.

Disc 4 is a DVD of the movie, and the last disc is for digital copy.

Summary:

Disney, get out of the pulpit already...you couldn't even make your message believable. Stick to what you do best, which is to deliver quality and fun animated entertainment. When not tripping over its own self-righteousness, Cars 2 steps on the gas and delivers that in amazing pedal-to-the-metal fashion.

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