No doubt Cars 2 is Pixar’s most impressive visual achievement to date (having 11 films prior to hone graphics). Unfortunately, Pixar failed to pick up on the fact that stunning CGI cannot account for a weak story with a deprived sense of excitement. As if coming from a bad spy movie, Cars 2 veers away dramatically from its predecessor, which focused on slowing down and appreciating life’s simple pleasures, to become an unstructured action flick with explosions and villains with terrible accents. More over, one of the main attractions of the original Cars was the race sequences in which lead character Lightning McQueen had his ‘epiphany moment’. Now in Cars 2, these scenes have been dulled to mere time fillers between the main plot and are no where near the thrill contained in the first film.
Bigger is not always better: Cars 2 takes its audience across Europe and Asia in an attempt to pump life into its dwindling sub-plot. In this time, don’t rely on your thought of the original Cars characters to make a stunning second appearance. They won’t. This move by Pixar was another nail in the coffin for its ‘blockbuster’ sequel. Opening the floor to other characters such as Fin McMissile and Holly Shiftwell, however, has brought about a much needed mix-up. In addition to their sophisticated British style, the writers were kind enough to allow these newbie’s some character depth and background; something which most of the other roles cannot virtue.
What came as quite a shock was the spotlight shift from race legend McQueen to side kick Mater. What first seems to be idle fun for the tow truck turns into international espionage on a global scale. The sheer contrast between the formality of the British Intelligence agents and Mater’s clumsy hillbilly style certainly regained some composure for Cars 2. In addition to the contextual writing of the characters, John Lasseter and Brad Lewis brought that familiar spark of humour back into Pixar movies. With gags for kids which will be repeated week after week and even some dirty quips for the adults, Cars 2 fulfilled the main body of what a Pixar release should be all about.
Of course, a major film such as Cars 2 cannot go without its controversy. Nothing hits the nerves of wary parents like a socialist movement embedded in the plotline of a family movie. The critical factor in the story of Cars 2 centred on racing with renewable fuel, with the cliché bad guy confronting the idea while trying to make millions from fossil fuel harvesting. How did Pixar answer the cries?
“I kept thinking about, ‘OK. A spy movie in the world where cars are alive. What would be a really good kind of über bad guy? Who is an über bad guy?’ I kept going to big oil. This is before what happened in the Gulf of Mexico,” Cars 2 director John Lasseter told the Wall Street Journal. “Why isn’t alternative fuel more… Why isn’t everybody jumping on that bandwagon? It makes so much sense: Electricity, solar, whatever. There’s ethanol. There’s all this stuff you could be doing. And so I thought, well, that could be really cool in that you could have big oil versus alternative fuel. That’s when we kind of crafted the bad guy’s story.”
If you are planning to have a cinema night-out to see Cars 2, don’t waste the extra cash on 3D. As with all 3D nowadays, it sucks the vibrancy out of every film, leaving a dark gloomy shell. Forgetting that the 3D effects are even present is more common than ever, especially with Cars 2. It is an average film with little in the running for Pixar. Their only hope for a big profit is getting finance from their empire of new merchandise surrounding this let down of a film.