Monday, 15 August 2011


Cars 2 [Review]

Opinion: B

Freshly out of the Pixar studios, there are bound to be heaps of comparisons between this and its previous top notch animated feature films. Indeed when so, it does appear to be inferior mainly in the story/plot department. Nevertheless, as a family/children film with the most welcomed film rating classification, there's lots of fun with the jammed pack giggle-inducing gags as well as a thing or two about friendship and clean energy for both children and adults to take home.

Star race car Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and his best friend, the incomparable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy), jump start a new adventure to exotic lands stretching across the globe in “Cars 2.”

The duo are joined by a hometown pit crew from Radiator Springs when they head overseas for the first-ever World Grand Prix, a race to determine the world’s fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and bombshells when Mater is mistakenly ensnared in an intriguing escapade of his own: international espionage.

Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile (voice of Michael Caine) and the stunning rookie field spy Holley Shiftwell (voice of Emily Mortimer).

Mater’s action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan, Italy, France and England, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world. The fast-paced fun includes a colourful new cast of cars, boats, trains and airplanes— complete with menacing villains and international racing competitors.

Pixar Animation Studios is indeed one of the distinctive studios with a brilliant track record.

Among its star successes, we've seen and applauded Pixar's animated features like Toy Story (1, 2, and 3), The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up. One of the main ingredients of its hit success other than some movie magic, is the captivating story.

With the above in mind, it is therefore difficult to see Pixar deviating away from its pristine past practices. People are typically not susceptible to changes. Agreed that we've all gotten comfortable with the fact (or industrial trait) that Pixar doesn't settle for anything less of a nomination worthy animated feature, but that doesn't mean that they cannot amend their offerings.

John Lasseter and Brad Lewis' Cars 2, when in contrast to Pixars' previous works, is indeed less story-driven and is instead inspired by the speedy racing theme and features a plot pace that zips past the audience like a flash. It never stops for a breather to perform lengthy plot/character development and opts to constantly move along, truly a film that mimics its film material.

Besides Lightning McQueen, the true protagonist and limelight star in Cars 2 is Mater. This could well be tracked to Lasseter's fascination with Mater as he's previously directed a short "Tokyo Mater" as well as seven episodes of an earlier television animated series "Mater's Tall Tales".

There's two new characters added to aid in developing the new British spy plot angle in the sequel - Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell. While their gadgets and weaponry have added wonders and production values to the feature, their characters don't. Looks like Larry the Cable Guy has heavy responsibilities as the newly appointed star of the franchise to shoulder, which he copes fairly well with his buck-toothed Southern accent full of gags.

So Cars 2 isn't strong on story and characters, but it saturates itself with laughing moments and zippy racing action.

It's not just Mater's nonsensical sprouting that contributes, the lifelike concepts featured in Cars 2 take it further. We see automobiles heading to the restroom in Tokyo where a jet sprouts from the bowl to clean their bottoms. In Paris, we see mime-performing automobiles. In London, Her Majesty is an automobile with a crown.

There is true satisfaction in the entertainment induced by seeing cars taking on cultural identities, also not forgetting the globe-trotting location sets that not only treated us to sight travels but also an opportunity to display their superb visual-art competency.

As for the third dimension, I'm not in a position to comment on it as my screening was in 2D.

Despite not fronting a strong storyline that most expected, Cars 2 houses a couple of bring home messages for the kids (and adults) to benefit from. There's the (somewhat predictable) friendship lesson that we can learn from McQueen and Mater, and also most importantly - the clean energy cultivating influence (which I personally root for). Pixar's attempt at educating our future generation of going environmentally-friendly is commendable, which should more than justify the purpose of our adolescents indulging in healthy cartoons and animations.

Admittedly, the clean energy message as well as some of the dialogues exchanged might be overwhelming for the younger children to follow along in understanding and is apparently targeted at the young adults and above. Parents who are bringing their toddling children to Cars 2 might like to enhance its kind intentions further via delicate explanation.

If you can excuse this for losing the story touch and not being the much demanded Pixar masterpiece, Cars 2 throttles lots of fun and laughter your way that makes this a more than competent animated feature to indulge in with family and friends.

Do be early for your screening as there's a lovely Toy Story 3 short animated feature "Hawaiian Vacation" attached at the front of Cars 2!

PS: In spirit of the upcoming opening of Cars 2 in the region, we thought of assembling together this brief clip of Lightning McQueen dancing with his crew in live action embedded below. We hope you'll enjoy it.

(Premiere screening courtesy of Disney Studios Singapore & Nuffnang Singapore)


  1. As I said before, I didn't hate the first movie, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I thought Pixar's magic was lacking. When I heard there will be a sequel, I was like: Oh, no! They didn't! Still haven't seen it, because I fear I'm gonna dislike it. You're being generous or the movie is really that decent? :)

    Just mentioned you on my blog, as yesterday I celebrated "2 years of blogging" and was thrilled to mention all my closest blog buddies. :)

  2. @Nebular Yes, indeed this isn't the masterpiece animation that I'd expected from Pixar, but it was still an average animation if just for fun & joy.

    What Cars 2 lacked was the story depth that other Pixar films enjoyed, but otherwise it was okay.

    But of course you might end up disliking it further or liking this even more after you watch it. :)

  3. Wow, can't wait to watch it! :D
    I'll watch it after my exams..


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