CARS 2 - Another Winner for Pixar
CARS 2 (animated adventure in 3D)
Cast (voices): Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro and Bonnie Hunt
Director: John Lasseter and Brad Lewis
Screenplay: Ben Queen
Time: 105 mins mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: After watching the utterly childish and shallow Spy Kids: All The Time in the World, Cars 2 comes as an inspiring and refreshing change. The folks at Pixar have always been both creative and wacky - and these elements come to the fore in Cars 2. It is a movie that will not only delight the kids but will also dazzle the grown-ups.
SYNOPSIS: As usual, before we get to the main feature, Pixar serves up a little appetiser in the form of a Toy Story short about Ken and Barbie's 'Hawaiian Holiday'. And after the seven-minute 'quickie', we plunge into the 60's-styled espionage setting as British agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine, voicing for an Aston Martin) infiltrates and records some night time events at an oil rig. The main plot involves Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) being 'persuaded' by his tow truck buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) to compete in the World Grand Prix, a tripartite tournament across Japan, Italy and London, to test a new fuel created by Sir Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard).
In Japan, Mater is mistaken by Finn and his sidekick Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) for an American agent and he gets embroiled in a hunt for a camera with hidden powers.
HITS & MISSES: Cars 2 is not only an improvement on the original, it brings new life to the 'cars with human personalities' animation concept. And true to its Formula One racing subplot, director John Lasseter and his team keep their feet on the accelerator, revving up the action into almost a frenzy and adding on some of the most visually inspiring sights. While the first movie is centred around American cars and the iconic Route 66, Cars 2 takes on an international flavour with an eco-saving theme about alternative energy. It entertains the kids and keeps the adults thinking as well.
The espionage plot isn't as complex as a spy story should be but then it should be obvious that the plot is not the main attraction for the viewers. The big deal are the visual treats, the clever puns and gags 'embedded' in the animation. These are enhanced by the 3D effects but they should work just as well for 2D. The 'car-acters' are nicely rendered (thanks to an accomplished voice cast like Caine and Mortimer) and cities like Tokyo, Rome and London, are pictured in all their historical and neon glory.
THE LOWDOWN: I see this one as a 'collector's item' - destined for the DVD shelf when the Blue-Ray issue arrives.