Plot: What’s it about?
When it comes to computer animation and movies, there’s really only one that I even pay attention to. Pixar. They were really the first out there and, in my opinion, really make the best animated films. I will say that the Shrek movies are an exception, but time has proven that the Toy Story movies along with The Incredibles really make it hard to top. The only Pixar movie that I’ve never seen is Finding Nemo which is supposedly the best of the bunch! As The Incredibles took home a couple Oscars last year, it’s evident that this new wave of animation isn’t a fad, it’s here to stay. It’s ushered in a new era and, sadly, the traditional 2-D animation is probably going to go the way of the dodo. I was reminded of this when watching the recent The Little Mermaid Blu-ray, a movie that’s probably responsible for the resurgence of the animation movies. What makes these Pixar movies so great is that they are entertaining for both kids and adults alike. Yes, it’s a cliche, but they’ve got something for everyone. Cars is the latest offering and here’s what to expect.
NASCAR is no doubt partially responsible for this movie and though I’m not a fan, plenty more are. It’s with this that we meet Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), a rookie who’s having quite the year. There’s a three way tie in the latest race and their egos are going to be put on hold until the biggest race of the year. On the way out to California to compete, he mistakenly gets sidetracked in Radiator Springs and is sentenced to help repair the damage he’s done. The judge (Paul Newman) keeps a careful eye on him and Lightning quickly learns that he’s racing against a different clock if he’s to make it to the big race. You see, Lightning is a bit selfish and stuck up. His pit crew quit on him and he only looks out for himself. As he spends more time in Radiator Springs, some bonds start to form and he finds himself questioning his morality. Will Lightning make it to the big race or will he discover there’s more to life than winning?
Cars was written and directed by John Lassiter, the man personally responsible for Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. It’s no secret that Cars has the same flare that those two did and it’s chock full of quirky humor. Lassiter is the man behind Pixar and he’s helped spawn a new age in computer animation. I also neglected to mention the top notch talent that’s involved with this movie. Naturally Owen Wilson is in the lead along with Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Keaton, Larry the Cable Guy and Cheech Marin all lending their respective voices to the roles. Cars is as the back of the box describes An instant classic as are all the Pixar movies. Go out and pick this up and watch your children be entertained time and time again. Though adults might not get as many repeat viewings out of it, its good quality entertainment and certainly worthy of the Pixar name.
Video: How does it look?
I’ll go into the “broken record” department here when I say that everything that Pixar has put out (feature film wise) looks downright amazing. Stemming from a purely digital source, Cars looks as good as it did upon its release back in 2007 and looks just as good now. Truly, this is what you show people when you want to show off how good an image can look. Colors are bold, bright and vivid, detail is simply amazing and there’s just nothing wrong with the way this looks.
The real draw of this release, however, is that Pixar has gone back and given the film a 3D transfer (one that wasn’t available at the time when this movie came out). With 3D movies becoming more mainstream, Pixar took the bull by the horns and released this as part of an “Ultimate Collector’s Edition.” But enough about the Marketing aspect of things – how’s the 3D look? In a word – amazing. Even the 2D version is so crystal clear that you might think some of the scenes were made for 3D. The use of depth and shallow focus in some scenes really does a lot to make the 3D experience that much more immersive. To be blunt: if you thought this looked good in 2D – 3D is a whole new way to watch it. This is an example of a 3D title done right.
Audio: How does it sound?
About the only thing that’s different here is that the audio has changed from an uncompressed PCM soundtrack (used on the initial release of the Blu-ray) and now sports a stunning Dolby TrueHD mix. As I noted in my original review, Cars benefits from fantastic sound. There are highs and lows to the frequency and though dialogue occupies the majority of the soundtrack, there are so many nuances in every speaker; it nearly creates a dizzying effect that’s pure euphoric joy for the listener. I was also surprised at the LFE, the sub was going crazy in some scenes and it added a much needed punch to an already robust soundtrack. While not quite on par with the video, this is pretty close and certainly is deserving of a near perfect score. A Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also included on the standard DVD.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You would figure that with this new “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” that we’d get something new in regards to supplements. You would be mistaken. Truthfully, aside from the audio and the inclusion of the 3D version of the film, this is the same disc as they’ve had out for years. Still, for those that might have missed the earlier reviews, here’s what to expect:
- Cine-Explore Mode – A Picture-in-picture way to watch the film with little pop ups along the way. Several other features can be selected here that “branch off” into little five minute segments that cover some of the more technical aspects of the movie.
- Carfinder Game – This Java-based feature was pretty fun on the original disc and I’m glad to see it’s on this disc. This lets you select, via some crosshairs, a car from the film.
- Movie Showcase – As the name entails, this is a quartet of four scenes that are prime examples of excellent sound. I think the entire movie would work, but if you’ve only a few minutes then these should work.
- Deleted Scenes – Four deleted scenes are included (same as before, again).
- Audio Commentaries – There are two different commentaries to choose from while in “Cine-Explore” mode: a Director’s Commentary from John Lasseter and a Production commentary with various members of the technical staff. Both are well worth a listen.
- Mater and the Gaslight – A short segment that’s indicative of the other shorts found on Pixar films.
- One Man Band – See above.
- Interview with John Lasseter – A rather interesting, if now dated, interview with the man who essentially is Pixar. He tells of the influences, his reasoning for the film and the like.
- DVD/Digital Copy