January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

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” DVD, 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 cliché, but they’ve got something for everyone. “Cars” is the latest offering and here’s what to expect…

The popular NASCAR circuit 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, it’s good quality entertainment and certainly worthy of the Pixar name.

Video: How does it look?

Perfect. All of these computer animated movies look fantastic on DVD namely because they come from a purely digital source. I’ve mentioned in several other reviews how I’ve become a bit spoiled by HD DVD, but let me tell you that this looks just as good or better than an HD DVD There’s really nothing else to say, it’s so realistic that you feel like you could reach out and touch the images. No edge enhancement, no dirt, grain or anything that might detract from a perfect picture. It’s perfect.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is fairly active as well. As we might imagine, the constant humming of cars whizzing by is certainly something that will keep all of the speakers occupied for the 116 minute running time. Now not all of the movie takes place on a racetrack (very little, actually) but the surround and ambient effects just keep coming. Everything produces some sort of sound and it all sounds fantastic. Part of the joy of working in a digital environment means that the filmmakers can make a sound come out of a particular channel and really make it “for” home theater. While not as robust as some tracks out there, this one suits me just fine and no complaints here.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There aren’t a whole lot of supplements to be found on “Cars” and why not? It’ll give Disney a chance to re-issue this DVD with more special features sometime next year, right? What we do have is fairly interesting, a couple of new animated shorts “Mater and the Ghostlight” and “One Man Band”. We also get an interview with writer/director John Lassiter on his inspiration for the movie. There are a five deleted scenes and an epilogue that runs about five minutes. Oh, there’s also a blatant promotion for…blu-ray!

Disc Scores