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.
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!