When Cars first came out on DVD, I was a little disappointed because there weren't very many extras on it. I didn't understand why Pixar would take one of their most popular films and give it such a mediocre treatment. Well.....now that I have the Blu-ray version of this film, I think I know why. They were saving it all for Cars debut on hi-def. This has to be the best looking picture I have seen yet on a hi-def title. I looks almost like the entire film is in 3-D!!! I managed to catch part of this movie on a hi-def cable channel and thought I would compare the two pictures. After a little fiddling, I managed to get both screens at the exact same frame, and was blown away at how much clearer the Blu-ray picture is. The Cine-Explore feature on this is the best special feature I've seen on a hi-def title. It is almost sensory overload at the amount of material that continuously pops up across the screen while the film is playing. This disc will be the one I will pop in to show my friends what Blu-ray is capable of doing. Every Blu-ray owner needs to get this title. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
on March 30, 2011
When I saw this movie in the theaters I enjoyed watching it enough, but I kept thinking this was the worst Pixar film I have seen. Funny thing is the worst Pixar film is still A grade material compared to most other animated features released. And while Cars didn't wow me on the big screen the way The Incredibles or Monsters Inc (or a score of other Pixar films) the film grew on me in a big way when we got it home. You see my son (two years old at the time) loved to watch it. Being the inclusive dad that I am I would watch it with him. I got what Pixar was doing when I first saw Cars, but it didn't resonate with me until repeated viewings. Now, while it's still not my favorite Pixar movie, Cars made a believer out of me in what they were saying about this film.
You see Cars isn't just a cartoon about a world where cars are people. It's a tribute of the history of the automobile, a nod to NASCAR and its roots, and a love letter to Route 66. All of this done in a family-friendly and colorful animated universe. Any car nut with a broad spectrum interest in the automobile will find lots of different cars from different eras getting face time on this movie. NASCAR fans will love the racing sequences and level of detail dedicated to the sport. Those who remember the days before the Interstate system where there was as much fun travelling to your destination as there was being there will feel nostalgic for that time again. The movie hits on multiple levels, which is what makes it better than the sum of its parts.
Take that all away and you still have a fun cartoon. You have cars talking and acting like people for God's sake! The kids will eat that up! Cars are getting into crazy situations that are in their own way a slight play on human issues. There are plenty of little jokes on that vein that both the kids and parents can laugh over. There is even a joke or two with a double meaning the adults may get a kick out of. This is all classic Pixar and does much to fill in the little spaces between story development.
The story? Well like I said when I first saw it I got what they were saying, but wasn't impressed. It's essentially much like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show I remember seeing where somebody from the big city gets stuck in Mayberry, desparate to get out, only to end up loving the town and wanting more. Maybe it was because it was in a way the preachiest of the Pixar films telling us we should slow down our busy lives and go back to simpler times. Not that it's a bad message. Just not one that held onto on first viewing. Well after watching it several more times with my excited toddler the little details come into play that I either missed or ignored the first time around. The sleepy town that slowly comes to life the more their new visitor gives to it. The beautiful backdrops of painted deserts and canyons. There is character growth going on.
Cartoons live and die by their voice actors. While just about every animation company puts out movies that take advantage of celebrity power to gain an audience Pixar is one of the few who has consistently been able to get the best performances from them, and cars is no different. Every celebrity voice is pitch perfect and puts you in the view of the character more than the actor. Larry the Cable Guy as Mater the tow truck easily steals the show, but does it in such a way where you absolutely know it's Larry doing the voice, but you see Mater as a character in of itself rather than a cartoon Larry. Owen Wilson puts his best sly, but whiner-like demeanor for racing star McQueen that's his best. Some characters I still have trouble recognizing the transformation is so good. Tony Shalhoub (better known as Monk from the TV series) is absolutely unbelievable as tire shop owner Luigi. Better yet Michael Keaton as Chic Hicks barely sounds like Michael. Michael makes what is essentially the villain in the movie a very enjoyable and charismatic cut up. I can go on, but suffice it to say the "acting" is top notch.
Animation wise all I have to say is this is Pixar. They are just about the best in the business and what you see in this movie will impress even today. The race scenes are dynamically shot the same way you would see a big NASCAR race with gravel, debris, smoke and skid marks looking real. The level of detail is very impressive from the waxed shine on the cars to the minute dust.
This Blu-Ray release is pretty much identical to the previous release, but this time they include the DVD version as well. The differences between the Blu-Ray and DVD versions visually are striking, and that's admitting the DVD looks great. The Blu-Ray technically has two menus, but that's not a big deal. One of the menus has three options which are the movie, bonus cartoons and featurettes. Here's a breakdown (features on the DVD will have an * beside them):
Mater and the Ghost Light*: Like all Pixar releases Cars comes with both the animated short that was viewed before the movie in theaters plus a totally new short related to the movie itself. This is a story about Mater scaring the town with little tricks so he is told a story about the infamous Ghost Light, which he then appears to experience after left alone. Goofy funny with Mater kind of replaying a number of scenes from the movie in a different way.
One Man Band*: This is the short that was played before the movie in theaters. It's about two street musicians "dueling" for a little girl's coin. The musicians get more outrageous in their zeal for the money and things end up going crazy.
Mater in Bounding: Remember the Pixar short with the Jackalope and sheep? Well this is a quickie (non hi-def) short of Mater replacing the sheep bouncing all over the place. I think it's something the animators put together for fun and are sharing with us.
End Credits: Here you can see the animation end credits in full frame without the credits. Love the previous Pixar movie references.
Production Features include:
Two Full Length Commentaries: One is by Lasseter and the other with the production team (with pictures).
Inspiration for 'Cars'*: Documentary told by John Lasseter on the inspiration for Cars including a jaunt through Route 66 and seeing some race cars in action.
Documentary Shorts: There are seven little items here. "Radiator Springs," "Character Design," "Animation and Acting," "Real World Racing: Getting Geeky with the Details," "Hudson Hornet," "Graphics" and "Darrell Waltrip Museum Tour". This is the real meat of the extras. You get to see the real love for the source material and how much they put into making the movie as much a car-lovers movie as possible.
Cine-Explore: This is a way to see behind the scenes stuff while watching the movie. You can set it automatic or manually punch in the content. Much of the content comes from the other featurettes.
Deleted Scenes*: These are just sketches and storyboards that never went beyond pre-production. It's interesting to see how the script evolved, but don't expect extra cartoons.
Carfinder Game: It's dubbed as a very sophisticated BD game, but I call it incredibly tedious. The has three play modes. The primary mode is where you have to select a car from the bottom of your screen when it shows up in the movie. Next is the same concept, but this time the screen is frozen for an amount of time due to a massive amount of cars to rummage through. Third is like a bonus round where you get three images of the same car and you have to pick which one is accurate (with the other two having often the slightest differences in them).
The reward for going through the game (which you cannot get out of until you finish the movie with it) is a Showroom that has all the cars you found. You can click on the showroom and get a pretty neat profile of that car and it's personal history. I have to admit I really like getting this information as it broadens the story greatly. It's just a bear of a game to go through. This isn't a casual game to kill a little time. Be prepared to commit.
Cars is one of those movies that is very different from anything else out there, but then again you can say that for a good number of Pixar movies. It's a great movie for the car lover and those who enjoy remembering the 1950's driving experience where drive-ins and cruising mainstreet were how you treat a Friday night. Oh yeah... car racing fans will definitely get a kick out this film. If you aren't into any of that then you still should give this movie a try. It's VERY accessible to just everybody out there.
on November 6, 2013
I'm sure you all know the wonderful story that Pixar created already, so I'll cut right to the chase and talk solely about the 3D quality and how everything stacks up.
When I heard about this releasing in 3D I was beyond excited, so excited in fact that I made one of only a few blind buys I ever partake in when purchasing 3D movies. I've already witnessed firsthand how high quality 3D transferred Disney Pixar animations are, so I was confident. I can officially say with all of the energy I can muster, it is EXCELLENT! Well worth the 2nd dip buy (I already own the 06 DVD and have seen the Blu-ray). I own quite the collection of 3D movies and I feel as though this is at least in my top 6 favorites.
There are three different forms of 3D, pop-outs, depth, and dimension. This movie pulls off depth and dimension without flaw. It compares directly to the amazing Monsters Inc. transfer that blew me away, sometimes even pulling off an even better 3D image. As soon as Lightning leaves the stadium to head to California, depth is extremely evident. That highway scene will have you in awe the entire time. The image just goes on for miles and miles into your T.V. screen. At one point you see the backdrop of a city at night and it took my breath away. I've never seen an image go so far and accurately into the screen before. I literally felt like I was right there. The amazing depth doesn't stop there either, it's consistent across all scenes, cramped or not, it's there and looks incredibly realistic and breathtaking each time it opens up across the countryside or pans out over the racetracks. Everything looks beautifully dimensional and realistic as ever. Take a look at each individual piece of confetti as it flutters to the ground, each having it's own individual sense of space and size, look at the extra roundness of the front of Lightning McQueen, stare endlessly at each individual fan watching the Piston Cup race, immerse yourself in the new found beauty that is overlooking the town of Radiator Springs, examine the fine details of anything you can lay your eyes on. It's all very impressive and a step way up past 2D blu-ray quality.
The only thing holding the 3D back only slightly is the lack of pop-outs. Originally being designed for 2D well before the 3D content explosion and knowing that Disney Pixar films completely lack that effect to begin with, this came as expected. So, even if you think some scenes have great potential (the massive crash at the beginning) for some pop-outs, completely forget about it. The image almost always stays safely tucked away into the depths of your screen. Every once in a while you'll spot a possible couple of leaves or water droplets exiting your screen slightly, but it's really nothing to completely ogle over. This is really not much of an issue at all in my opinion. I prefer depth over pop-outs any day, depth is always there, pop-outs can only happen every once in a while during any movie.
I caught no hints of crosstalk/ghosting on my system viewed with active shutter glasses and any other "uglies" are kept to a bare minimum if there at all.
Video quality itself for the 3D and 2D Blu-ray alike are phenomenal. Colors just jump off the screen in a beautiful rainbow of contrast and vibrancy. The animation lends itself extremely well to high-definition. It is definitely the right mix and is very nice and pleasing to look at. It's always a pleasure to state that this is never lost in the least when 3D is on.
This is the same great 5.1 audio we've heard from the original 07 Blu-ray. Not too much to comment, but it sounds great coming out of my T.V. I hardly have the setup to take advantage of audio as I favor picture more and spend the money there, so I'm not the best one to ask. All I can say is, "sounds excellent!"
The 3D rerelease of Cars comes highly recommended by me whether or not you already own the 2D Blu-ray. It boasts amazing 3D visuals that will leave you wanting to take the road trip all over again after reaching your final destination. It ranks right up there as one of the best 3D Blu-ray animations at least. The overall package technically gets a 4.5/5 from me, but I have no problem whatsoever rounding it right up to a 5/5!
on May 4, 2006
A little known secret about Pixar, is their huge support for their local community. Last night I attended a fund raiser premier of CARS at Pixar's studio's in Emeryville CA. The event raised over $80,000 for our local school district!
So here are my thoughts on the movie.
Firstly, this is a fast paced and LOUD movie. Those with sensitive ears should think about taking cotton buds to the theater.
Ok, I read some of the comments so far based on the teaser's and have to say that the animated cars are done wonderfully. Each car really has it's own personality and although they do look a little cartoonish, Pixar has again shown that they can animate anything and bring it to life and then some.
The big race scenes are really only at the very beginning and at the very end, the majority of the movie is set in a small town "Radiator Springs" somewhere in the midwest just off Route 66.
I won't give too much away as far as the story goes, you'll need to go see it yourself for that.
The movie is packed full of very funny jokes and scenes, like the Tractor Tipping scene, and the SUV off-road bootcamp!
Visually, this movie is stunning. I can't imagine the amount of research that went into producing this one. Anyone who has driven I-40 near Amarillo TX will recognise the mountain ranges shaped like old Cadillac's burried nose down in the sand. They really capture the road trip experience. And the scenery is breath-taking.
Not being a big fan of "Larry The Cable Guy" I have to say that his performance as Mater the tow truck, was brilliant. As one of the main characters, he was very funny and endearing.
Technically, Pixar really pushed the envelope again. We're used to Pixar movies breaking ground in each movie, the underwater rendering in Finding Nemo, the fur rendering in Monsters Inc., etc.. In cars, it's all about the rendering of dust particles which looks super realistic and is not an easy thing to achieve.
Overall, this movie will have great appeal to a lot of people, although I personally think that The Incredibles is still my favorite. This one might not win the Best Animated Feature award but I'm sure it will get awards for the technical aspects of the film.
Finally, I just want to thank Pixar once again for their amazing and continued support to the local community, whether it be fund raising events like last nights, or the masses of computers they donate to the schools, or the number of their employee's that regularly volunteer their freetime to work with the kids in mentoring programs. I couldn't wish for a better neighbor.
"Cars" is definitely a popular Disney/Pixar classic and in terms of quality, has received the highest of rankings when it was released on Blu-ray back in 2007. In 2009, the "Ultimate Cars Gift Pack" comes with the Blu-ray plus the original DVD and 2 exclusive cars (Cruisin' Lighting McQueen and Rescue Squad Mater) with custom Ransburg paint. These items are highly collectible and If you are looking for a holiday gift, especially for someone who owns a Blu-ray player, a die-hard "Cars" fan and loves Disney/Pixar films, you can not go wrong with this gift pack! Definitely recommended!
In 2006, the seventh Disney/Pixar film "Cars" was released in theaters. Needless to say, the film was a major hit as it was nominated for two Academy Awards, has made over $461 million worldwide.
In fact, the film was so popular that merchandise is still sold in department stores today and the cars have been popular toys that have made over $5 billion in sales.
Needless to say, "Cars" was not just a box office success, it is one of Disney/Pixars biggest money making titles that is loved by critics and fans that easily ensured a sequel for a planned release in 2011.
In 2009, in time for the holidays is the release of "Cars - Ultimate Cars Gift Pack" which is a great release for those who have now jumped aboard in purchasing a Blu-ray player and a Blu-ray which was released in 2007 and has received nothing but magnificent reviews.
"Cars" is a film directed by John Lasseter ("Toy Story" films, "A Bug's Life") and co-directed by Joseph Ranft ("Monsters, Inc.", "Finding Nemo", "A Bug's Life", "The Incredibles") and features a screenplay by Lasster, Ranft, Dan Fogelman ("Bolt", "The 12th Man"), Kiel Murray, Phil Lorin and Jorgen Klubein ("A Bug's Life", "Mulan", "Pocohontaas", "The Lion King").
The film revolves around a popular rookie named Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson, "Bottle Rocket", "Marley & Me") who races in the Piston Cup stock car racing competition.
Lightning McQueen is quite arrogant and not much of a team-player. He doesn't trust his pit crew and sure enough, when he gets into a 3-car tie, the race would be determined a week later at the Los Angeles International Speedway.
While on the road to practice in California, he pushes his big rig Mack to travel all early morning but when a group of cars start becoming reckless around Mack, Lightning McQueen rolls out of the back of the big rig and ends up in the countryside.
When Lightning McQueen goes to find Mack, he ends up in a small town of Radiator Springs. But when he gets into a problematic situation with the local Sheriff (he tears up the main road), Lightning is arrested and put in jail.
The town's judge and doctor Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", "The Hustler", "Nobody's Fool") wants him out of town but the local lawyer Sally Carrera (voiced by Bonnie Hunt, "The Bonnie Hunt Show") insists that Lightning to do community service.
And thus, Lightning must spend time with the locals of Radiator Springs where he gets to learn more about himself, making new friends such as Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, "Blue Collar TV"), Ramone (voiced by Cheech Marin, "Lost", "Born in East LA", "Race to Witch Mountain"), Luigi (voiced by Tony Shaloub, "Monk", "Wings") and many more. But also Lightning possibly discovering love.
"Cars" is an exciting, hilarious and well-cast film featuring beautiful animation from Pixar and looks and sounds incredible via HD on Blu-ray!
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Cars" on Blu-ray is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1) and the picture quality of the film is absolutely vibrant. Colors are absolutely beautiful as you can see the nice sheen of the cars and the reflections of the cars. You can see the detail on the rust stains on Mater and for the most part, if you put in your DVD, you can see how much of a difference the film looks in HD via Blu-ray over its DVD counterpart. Vibrant colors, more detail and overall, a beautiful video transfer with no blemishes, compression artifacts whatsoever.
Audio is presented in English 5.1 (uncompressed, 48 kHz/24-Bit) and the racing segments really utilize the surround channels but also the LFE. It's one thing to have the nice clear dialogue and music through the front and center channels but to hear the cars speeding on the raceway and zooming and hearing through the surrounds is fantastic. Crashes bring out the booms and the audience on the race track can be heard on the surround channels. Overall, a solid lossless audio soundtrack!
Subtitles are in English SDH.
As for the DVD, the DVD is featured in widescreen (2:39:1) and is enhanced for 16×9 televisions. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound EX and Dolby Digital 2.0. Subtitles are presented in English SDH.
"Cars - Ultimate Cars Gift Pack" contains the original Blu-ray released in Nov. 2007 but also comes with the original DVD plus 2 exclusive cars (Cruisin' Lightning McQueen and Rescue Squad Mater) with custom Ransburg paint.
The Blu-ray special features are presented in 1080p and 1080i High Definition and also 480i Standard Definition with English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital. Also, with English subtitles.
* Cine-Explore - Cine-Explore allows the viewer to watch the film with interactive audio commentary by director John Lasseter. You can see storyboards during the commentary and also see the shorts and deleted scenes as well.
* Cine-Explore Documentary Shorts: Included in this feature are:
- Radiator Springs - (5:23) Behind-the-scenes of Pixar and trying to make the world of "Radiator Springs" seem believable.
- Character Design - (6:06) Director John Lasseter talks about the details that he wanted to see in the film. From the reflections to the dirt being kicked up on the tires and more.
- Animation and Acting - (5:15) Scott Clark and Doug Sweetland (both have the title of Supervising Animator) talk about the character animation and how the characters must have a soul.
- Real World Racing: Getting Geeky with the Details - (5:29) Those who love "Cars" talk about how they love the details in the film since so many other films tend to not cover car racing that well. So, director John Lasseter (who loves cars) made sure that the details were right on the film and professionals talk about how happy they were that Lasseter wanted to get the details correctly for an animated film.
- Hudson Hornet - (2:44) Director John Lasseter talks about his first impression of the Hudson Hornet and how it was the fastest car of its day and then realizing how innovative, how powerful and how fast this car was. Others talk about how significant the car was.
- Graphics - (3:34) The various graphics and product stickers used on the film for each car. Graphic designers talk about the various logos that were used from brands, food, restaurants, products, etc.
- Darrel Waltrip Museum Tour - (7:13) Director John Lasseter visits the Darrel Waltrip Museum and takes a look at the various cars in the museum and learn some of the history behind those cars from Darrel Waltrip.
* Carfinder Game - A game in which you select the cars at a bottom row while watching the film and try to get the best score.
* Deleted Scenes - (14:00) Five deleted scenes which includes: Community Service, Top Down Truck Stop, Lost, Motorama Girls and Traffic School featuring opening commentary by director John Lasseter. Deleted scenes are from pre-production sketches (created 3-4 years before the film was released in theaters) are shown.
* One Man Band - (4:33) Featured in HD, this featurette is a Pixar animation of a man with many instruments (ala a One Man Band) and competes with another musician in order to get the coin of a young boy who wants to donate.
* Mater and the Ghostlight Short - (7:09) Featured in HD, this story features Doc Hudson telling a story of "The Ghostlight" to Lightning McQueen.
* Epilogue - (4:20) Featured in HD, this is the ending of "Cars" without the ending credits.
* Boundin' Cars - (:46) Featuring Mater and Lightning McQueen at the Drive-in watching a short film.
* Movie Showcase - (6:34) Certain scenes that showcase the ultimate in High Definition in picture and sound such as the sequences: Crash, Drive with Sally, Doc Racing and Neon
* The Inspiration of Cars - (16:02) John Laseter talks about his love for cars and wanting to bring his love for cars to animated format. A Behind-the-Scenes look at the making of the film and the crew taking a trip on Route 66.
The DVD contains the "Mater and the Ghostlight" short, "One Man Band" short, inspiration for "Cars", deleted scenes and more!
"Cars" was definitely an amazing animated film when it came out back in 2007 and in 2009, the film is still a classic and its so popular that toys for "Cars" are still being offered in department stores which is rare to see for an animated film.
I loved the film when it first came out and the film still holds up today and continues to be quite entertaining. The picture and audio quality of "Cars" in High Definition is still magnificent but of course since the original Blu-ray was released in 2007, the lossless audio soundtrack is presented in English 5.1 uncompressed (48 kHz/24-Bit) instead of the current 5.1 or 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack that Pixar films are offered in today's Blu-ray releases. But still, it's uncompressed audio and the lossless audio soundtrack of this Blu-ray release is still fantastic. And of course, picture quality is still outstanding.
As for the "Ultimate Cars Gift Pack", the release is right on time for the holidays. With many people now moving to Blu-ray and many Disney/Pixar fans knowing that "Cars" is one of those must-have films to own, Disney is offering a gift pack that includes a DVD (which is great for the kids during long commutes) and two exclusive cars with custom Ransburg paint.
Really, there's nothing negative that can be said about "Cars - Ultimate Cars Gift Pack". If you have know someone who is new to Blu-ray and is a Disney/Pixar fan, this is a wonderful holiday gift to give. It's a high quality release that is definitely recommended!
on July 1, 2006
After seeing so many children's movies with animals lately (Hoodwinked, Over the Hedge, Ice Age 2, etc.) Cars was a needed change. It was wonderful sitting down to a movie that offered something a bit different. Don't get me wrong, our family loves movies with goofy animals. But after laughing at and with Tow Mater for 2 hours, I was so glad I didn't see a silly squirrel in the whole movie. Tow Mater was awesome. We all hope to see Tow starring in his own flick! Bring on the sequel!!!
With that said, Cars is a heart warming story of a race car called Lightning McQueen who is full of himself. Lightning stumbles off the beaten path of life, and onto the backroads of route 66. There, Lightning McQueen finds all the things he was missing in life because of his self-absorption: friends, beauty, and love.
I was very pleasantly suprised with the story. Yes, Cars had many, many funny parts (especially the tractor tipping, and Tow Mater), but the story itself is what shines like a diamond. Cars is a movie that will have you leaving the theatre changed, looking for love, beauty and cherishing what you have. I can't give a movie any greater compliment than this. A must see, and must own children's movie.
Total Score (out of 100) = 90
43 (out of 50). Enjoyment. A rating based on my overall enjoyment of the film.
8 (out of 10). Acting. How good was the acting?
10 (out of 10). Immersion. Did the movie suck me into the story?
9 (out of 10). Intangibles. Special effects. Movie pace. Is the movie forgettable, or something you will talk about and remember for weeks? Years?
10 (out of 10). Must see. Is this movie worth seeing/renting?
8 (out of 10). Must buy. Is this movie a must buy/purchase?
Plus 2 extra bonus points for Tow Mater! Tow is a one one a kind children's movie character that will not soon be forgotten.
on September 6, 2006
A lovely movie that leaves the kids with a beautiful life lesson and big time entertaining for the whole family. Main character is Lightning McQueen, a beautiful little spoiled racing car too vain of his own early success to see beyond his own unexperience. Too proud and sure of himself to rely on others' advice, and believing that he would never be in need of anyone else. When he accidentally falls off the truck that was taking him to California to participate in the Piston Racing Coup, he finds himself on his own in an unknown place. Lost and alone he gets to Radiator Springs, a long-ago forgotten community struggling to stay in business nevertheless no big roads or highways pass nearby. A bunch of colorful guys there, with engines and parts perhaps not so brand-new and shiny but with certainly far more experience will eventually make him value all those meaningful and important things that go far beyond the mere outside looks and efervescent success: friendship, companionship, experience, and love.
...And plus: what a soundtrack! Rascal Flatts' version of "Life is a highway" got me rocking all the way home after the movie theater... These guys are just purely and plainly great and make unbelievable music, even when remaking a new version of this famous 80's tune. I love them. Sheryl Crow's "Real Gone" opening theme rocks! The rest of the soundtrack is just as great combining classic tunes by Chuck Berry and James Taylor with performances by Brad Paisley, John Mayer and others. My advice: buy the movie DVD along with the soundtrack CD! You won't regret it.
on August 19, 2006
I had no idea how much my 2 1/2 year old daughter would love this movie until we saw it. She's seen it 5, yes 5, times now, and she gets more excited each time she sees it. It's such a nice change of pace to watch an exciting well-made kid's movie. The cg-graphics are spellbindingly awesome, and the cast of characters is unforgettable. My girl "acts out" scenes from the movie with her die-cast cars every day.
on August 30, 2006
The greatest thing about `Cars,' the latest film coming from Pixar, is its rich and beautiful colors of the picture. Even those who points out the weakness of the story (which resembles that of Michael J. Fox film `Doc Hollywood') would admit the merit. After all, you just cannot keep telling good stories with originality forever, and Pixar is no exception. In `Cars' the respected company has decided on seeking the originality in another direction, that is, the setting of the film, in which all the characters are really cars, trucks, or any vehicle you can see on the road.
That means you don't see any humans here. The hero of the film is Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), hot shot race car who is stranded in the middle of nowhere, a sleepy town called Radiator Springs, after a series of incredible but funny misadventures. After damaging the town's main road, he is sentenced to community service in the court by Doc Hudson (voice by Paul Newman) while Lightning has to be in the next big race in California.
The town's `people' or cars are mostly misfits and rejects - the motif frequently used in Pixar films - and corky Lightning finds the life there miserable and hellish, but you know, people, no, cars change.
The film's idea about the cars and other vehicles is stretched to the point of some bizarre scenes - such as groupie cars, public restroom for cars, or car bugs that really fly - and you may not be impressed by all of them. Unlike `The Incredibles' or `Monster's Inc' the script of `Cars' is not the most original one in the marvelous history of Pixar, and the film's length (about 2 hours) makes us wish for the year 1995 when Pixar managed to make `Toy Story' that runs only 81 minutes and still is as good and enjoyable.
Still brilliant images full of striking colors and wonderful designs would appeal to everyone. The speedy car race sequences are brilliantly done, and the designs of the deserted town of Radiator Springs are often astonishingly real. And in spite of the weak story, the characters themselves are all well-written and likable, as those in the previous Pixar films are. Maybe `Cars' failed to reach the high standard of recent animations that Pixar has been pushing higher and higher, but it is still entertaining with a bit of sentimental and nostalgic feeling.
4 and 1/2
I will never, for the life of me, understand why Michael Eisner, the former head of Disney, even entertained the notion of ending Disney's relationship with Pixar. Disney's recent animated efforts pale in comparison to Pixar's. For proof of this, take a look at the Disney theme parks; Pixar characters are everywhere, in rides, as characters meeting the public, in parades, in shows. You would be hard pressed to find any representation from "Treasure Planet", "Chicken Little" or "Hercules". You might see Chicken Little doing a `Character Meet and Greet', but that's about it. Disney needs Pixar. And vice versa. No other movie studio has a marketing machine geared towards and a reputation for family films.
The two are a match made in heaven.
When you produce such consistently great films, as Pixar does, it becomes necessary to rate them against themselves. There is no other scale; they have raised the bar too high. Rating "Cars" on the same scale as DreamWorks's "Over the Hedge" just isn't going to work. "Hedge" is good, but Pixar films are in a class by themselves. It becomes a matter of is it "Toy Story/ The Incredibles" good or simply "Monsters, Inc" good? "The Incredibles" and the "Toy Story" films represent modern examples of perfection in the art of animation. For that matter, there are few live action films that can compare. "A Bug's Life" and "Monsters, Inc" are both very good, but they aren't perfect. "Cars", the newest film from Pixar, with the voice talents of Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt and John Ratzenberger, is very good, but it's "Monsters, Inc." good. It isn't perfect.
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), a rookie car on the Piston Cup circuit, has the moves and attitude to win the Cup, upsetting the King (Richard Petty), the veteran in his last race, and Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton), the venerable also-ran determined to win. After a three-way tie, the cars head out to California to perform for the title. Lightning upsets his third pit crew of the year, all of whom quit, and he sets off to California with simply his truck, Mack (John Ratzenberger). Lightning pressures Mack to drive through the night and along the way, Lightning gets separated and lost. He ends up in Radiator Springs, a sleepy little town on Route 66, far off the interstate. Disoriented, Lightning causes some damage and Sally (Bonnie Hunt), a Porsche, who lives in the town wants to see the damage repaired, pressuring Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), the town's judge, to order Lightning to fix the road before he leaves. Determined to get to California, Lightning tries to fulfill his duty but gets distracted by the residents of Radiator Springs.
Directed by John Lasseter ("Toy Story" and its sequel), "Cars" is a beautiful, richly detailed look at a world where cars live just like humans. Nearly great, the film has many things going for it and one key thing working against it.
Both a brilliant idea for an animated film and a brilliant marketing concept, "Cars" has a lot going for it. With NASCAR gaining popularity every week, this animated effort seems guaranteed to receive some cross-over. Also, how quickly can they retrofit the Speedway attractions at the theme parks? Let's freshen those babies up.
From the opening scenes, depicting a race at the Motor Speedway of the South, the computer generated animation is flawless in design and detail. Really, the only detail telling us this film is animated is the faces on the cars. Beyond that, the scenery and production design are flawless. We believe we are watching a real race at a real speedway (complete with cars filling the stands, doing the wave, and RVs parked in the center of the track) and the scenes of Lightning speeding through the landscape look like they were filmed, the landscapes appear so real I could almost smell the pine trees and the desert wind blowing across the open plain. The shots of Lightning and Sally driving through the forest are simply stunning. When they visit Ornament Valley, the rocks are beautiful and look like hood ornaments. When the race car arrives at Radiator Springs, the filmmakers have created a loving tribute to the little towns, motels, businesses, tourist attractions and icons which used to dot Route 66 during its heyday.
All of the cars are created with loving detail, each based on an actual car or vehicle. Even the car governor of California is a Hummer with an Austrian accent. Lightning is a race car, I'm going to guess a Mustang, I couldn't quite identify him, but Porsches, Ferraris, Buicks, Hudson Hornets and more, both old and new, make an appearance.
The voice talents are, as always, exceptional. Owen Wilson brings the right blend of cocky upstart and guts to Lightning McQueen. When he eventually realizes what his life is missing, and what he needs to do to fix it, we believe it. Paul Newman is perfect as Doc Hudson, the elder statesman of Radiator Springs. Once a powerful, cocky star in his own right, he prefers the quiet life in his little town. I read Newman, car buff that he is, suggested his character's make and model, giving Doc Hudson even more detail. He also has the right amount of gravelly intonation for a car fifty plus years old; you can imagine the carburetor adding to Doc's voice, in much the way Newman's voice adds resonance to the character. Hunt is good as the Porsche looking to protect and preserve the town and its inhabitants. Larry the Cable Guy is amusing as Tom Mater, the tow truck who is a few spark plugs short of a full engine. Tony Shalhoub plays Luigi, a little Italian car who runs the local tire shop and is obsessed with all things Ferrari. A number of real-life race car drivers make cameos as their cars and Tom and Ray, the Car Talk Guys from NPR, play the owners of Lightning's poorly funded sponsors.
I have to give a lot of credit to Pixar. They could've so easily made the race cars even more realistic and covered them with real sponsors, much like the real thing. Thankfully, we are spared from watching endless logos for Home Depot and the like. Instead, all of the sponsors are fictional, and provide a level of humor to the tale. Lightning's sponsors are Rust-Eze, the rear bumper rust lubricant. He longs to be sponsored by Dinoco, a large oil company. Get it? Dinoco, large oil company. Dinosaurs. Oil. Chick (Keaton) is sponsored by HTB, Hostile Takeover Bank. These are cute jokes, some of which are worked into the story, providing another level of detail to an already richly observed universe.
The problem with "Cars" is pacing. The film seems long and ten or fifteen minutes edited out middle would've improved the film greatly, giving it a faster rhythm, making it nearly unforgettable. As it is, the middle drags and we begin to fidget in our seats a bit.
"Cars" is fun, amusing and brilliantly designed. Sure to provide amusement for everyone in the family. As I have said many times, the mark of a classic animated film is it entertains the kids as well as the adults who have to take them. Would it entertain just adults? I heard a lot of laughter from adults, and a lot of laughter from the kids. At times a chorus, at others one group could be heard over the other. I can't imagine a better family film until maybe the next Pixar release, in summer, 2007, "Ratatouile", about a rat trying to eat good food in Paris.