Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: 'Cars 2'

Family, friends and those who follow me on Twitter and/or friends on Facebook know that I'm a HUGE Cars fan!  I didn't see the original when released in the theaters, seeing for the first time when it came out on DVD and instantly fell in love with the gang from Radiator Springs.

I read time and time again this is considered the weakest of the Pixar's films and quite honestly, just don't get that nor understand why? I dislike when a film is measured by it's box office receipts and/or compared to a film that brought in big dollars.   

Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty were box office flops but they've proved the test of time and are more remembered and endeared than some films that were box office winners.  I could barely sit through Ratatouille, did not see the appeal of Wall-E nor A Bug's Life.  Maybe I'm in a minority.  This film (at least for me) has so much heart, with emphasis on friendships and relationships.  Growing up in a small town, I related to that bond and closeness of the folks at Radiator Springs.  

Part of the marketing of this film was the release of diecast cars.  Growing up, I collected Matchbox cars with my brother and through Cars, relived those great moments collecting the Cars diecast with my friends, then anticipating each new Mater's Tall Tales release (wondering what they'll do in diecast?) then counting down and getting excited like a little kid for the release of Cars 2!

I promised myself I wasn't going to read any of the reviews and actually kept to that promise until yesterday.  I decided to visit one of the Cars Message Boards I frequent to see if any new diecast were released to coincide with opening day.  There was a thread on reviews, curiosity getting the best of me, opened the thread and began reading.  My heart sunk! It was a mixed bag of reviews and many referring to it as Pixar's Decline and the worst of the Pixar films, some even going so far as bashing John Lasseter.  I decided I read enough, closed out the message board and had faith in how important and loved these characters are by Mr. Lasseter, there was no way he was going to let me (or anyone) else down!

Let me start this review in saying ... the Critics Suck!  I think they spent too much time picking the film apart and comparing to the original.  If you're looking for Radiator Springs: Part II, this may not be the film for you.  I give props to Mr. Lasseter for taking these beloved characters, adding in some memorable new characters (Finn McMissile, Holly Shiftwell and Francesco Bernoulli) and telling a whole new story but still keeping the heart, bond and friendship you felt in the original.  

The animation was stunning!  At times, things were moving so quickly, you may have missed something but I believe this film (much like the original) was made to view again and again to soak it all up and with each viewing, seeing something new, making the film fresh each time. 

A quote I read probably best describes it, "The sequel is a tire-burning burst of action and fun with a beating heart under its hood.  Original director John Lasseter is back behind the wheel, and you can feel his love for all things automotive in every frame."

Working from a solid script by Ben Queen, Lasseter and co-director Brad Lewis take their race-car hero, Lightning McQueen (along with his best buddy Mater, Luigi, Guido, Fillmore and Sarge) out of the nostalgic Radiator Springs and onto the global stage (Japan, Italy, France and England).   Throw in the spy element with two great new characters, the classy British spy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine. a 007-era Aston Martin) and hot rookie Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), who mistake Mater's cluelessness for a brilliant disguise. 

Does Lightning win the race, beating the confident Francesco Bernouilli (voiced by John Turturro)? That doesn't seem as important vs. whether Lightning will let his career wreck his friendship with Mater. It's the Pixar touch of valuing feeling over frenzy that makes Cars 2 a winner.

The homage to Doc (voiced by the late Paul Newman) was poignant and fit perfectly in the story. Was happy to see the rest of the Radiator Springs gang (Flo, Ramone, Sally and Red) show up in London and the film ending in Radiator Springs.    

The center of the film is friendship and the importance of those friends and accepting them as they are. At least that's the message I walked away from it with.

I'd like to thank Mr. Lasseter for putting his heart into this film and regardless of what some of the critics have said, a film that met my expectations and more! 

I'm all ready for future Cars projects .. can't wait to see what will be done in diecast, more Mater's Tall Tales and if you can do like you did with Toy Story 3, am all ready for Cars 3 .. Ka Chow!


Jason S. said...

Totally agree with your review, Don. Really don't understand why the original Cars and now the sequel have gotten such bad raps as being the weak links in the Pixar films. Upon seeing the original, it easily became one of my favorite of the Pixar releases, and the sequel follows up nicely.

Loved the addition of the spy stuff: great action and music! One of my worries going into the film was that we wouldn't see much of the Radiator Springs gang as they weren't popping up in any of the trailers, but glad to see that worry was unfounded. And, yes, the homage to Doc Hudson was handled very well.

I do want to give a bit of praise to the Toy Story short played before the film, as well. Thought it was an excellent continuation of the goings-on of the TS gang: very enjoyable!

Oh, and seeing as how you mentioned Ratatouille in your review, did you happen to catch the restaurant from the film showing up in Cars 2 when they went to Paris?

A Snow White Sanctum said...

Duckman, you hit the nail on the head when you said "Critics Suck!" I don't know how many times I've been delightfully surprised by films that were suppose to be rotten or vise-versa, disappointed by ones that were touted as the greatest thing ever.

Thanks for sharing your review. Looking forward to seeing the film.

kissynose said...

I too am a big fan of the original Cars. I really had low expectation going into this movie. I waasn't as disappointed as I thought I would be. However, I believe Pizar could have done a little more with this movie.
Greatest aspect of the film is the little things that are meant to be discovered. I loved the Deadly Catch reference in the beginning of the film. The ship that takes Finn to the oil rigs is the Nortwestern and it is voiced by the Noerthwestern's captain Sig Hansan.

I still love Pixar but I am a bit disturbed with the sequel route they are taking. I think they do much better with original content.

Matthew said...

I loved the movie!

Loved the humor and detail in everything.

Matthew said...

I'm going to go see it again this weekend!

SPOILER ALERT - don't read if you don't want to be spoiled...

Hey did you notice at the end of the movie during the race in Radiator Springs when they go up the curved slope with the butte in the middle? That's part of near the end of the ride at Radiator Springs Racers opening next year at California Adventure!

I can't wait for Cars Land.

Duckman said...

Jason - Thanks! I don't get it either .. great characters, great stories (both original and sequel) and instantly became my favorite of the Pixar films after watching for the 1st time. For me, I think a combination of my love for Susie, The Little Blue Coupe (the inspiration for Cars) and fond memories of collecting diecast with my brother growing up was a big part in this film being a favorite of mine.

I too was worried about the rest of the Radiator Springs Gang when they weren't showing up in the trailers but got the biggest smiles when they showed up in London and thought perfect, the movie ended in Radiator Springs.

We too thought the Toy Story short was very cute and well done. Have you heard the Tom Hanks interviews? Sounds like there could be a Toy Story 4 on the horizon?

Never saw Ratatouille the whole way through (not one of my favorites), so didn't catch that reference :(

Snow White Sanctum - Did you get a chance to see the film yet? We're seeing for a second time this weekend. So much to absorb, takes more than one viewing :)

I've learned long time ago to stay away from the reviews, go into the film and make my own opinion.

Kissynose - Being such a fan of the original (and Mater's Tall Tales) guess made an exception with this sequel but like you, prefer original filming and hope Pixar doesn't go sequel overload. We know there is a Monsters, Inc. 2 planned and now rumor of Toy Story 4 and Cars 2 left it wide open for future installments.

Hopefully if they squeeze a sequel in here and there, it's because they have a good story to tell, as they did with Toy Story 3, my favorite of the Toy Story franchise.

Matthew - I didn't catch that but appreciate you pointing out. We're planning on seeing again tomorrow, so definitely going to be looking for it!