Review: CARS 2 (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Review: CARS 2 (2011)

RATING: 2.5/5

For the past decade since Pixar released their first groundbreaking animated feature, TOY STORY back in 1995, the studio had been blessed with a continuously winning streak. Even a lesser one like CARS (2006) wasn't that bad either since it still managed to make a lot of money to the tune of $244 million at the box-office, including an estimated $1 billion in toys merchandise sales. In fact, I personally thought CARS was an underrated gem deserved to be overlooked. Unfortunately after eleven animated features of top-notch entertainment, I'm sad to announce that their latest production entitled CARS 2 is surprisingly disappointing. Don't get me wrong, this unexpected sequel has all the hallmark of Pixar's must-have basic ingredients but suffers miserably from disjointed plot, halfhearted characters and most of all -- lack of heart.

Champion stock car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is now a four-time winner of the Piston Cup and he has been regularly competes around the country. One day he returns to Radiator Springs to visit his old friends, particularly his best buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the rusty tow truck as well as his blue Porsche girlfriend Sally (Bonnie Hunt) for the sake of enjoying a long break. But it doesn't take long before he is being lured back into action, especially after the arrogant Italian F1 car Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) challenged him for three races sponsored by entrepreneur Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard), CEO of an alternate clean fuel named Allinol intended to replace regular gasoline.

So the first destination is Japan, where McQueen brings along Mater to accompany him for the race. From there, thing goes awry when Mater finds himself accidentally involved with British spies Fran McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), who are trying to infiltrate a gang of Euro cars hellbent to discredit the new fuel source so that regular oil will remain in high demand. Nonetheless, a series of mishap follows.

The good news is, CARS 2 is a first-rate entertainment. Blessed with top-notch animation, it's certainly a visual feast to admire all the colorful and beautifully rendered locations -- Japan, Italy and England -- that it's simply to take your eyes off the screen. It's also fast-paced enough to entertain those who are looking for plenty of laughs and mindless fun (there are lots of action and car chases).

However, CARS 2 is terribly flawed piece of effort. Returning director John Lasseter and screenwriter Ben Queen spend too much time jumping scenes after scenes without taking a breather -- namely, developing characters and storyline into a cohesive whole. Instead, everything here feels rushed and jumbled up altogether. I also find it surprising that the filmmakers choose to develop the subplot involving Mater rather than focusing on Lightning McQueen's story, in which he's supposed to be the main focal point. Okay, there are times when a meaningful issue about the importance of friendship is raised, but such theme is often sidetracked by too many visual gags crammed into the screen.

Characters-wise, all the voice talents are strictly cardboard cutouts. While they are entertaining to watch for, they are sadly reduced into one-note performances. Speaking of one-note, I find it very disappointing to see Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen character is more like an afterthought rather than anything else matters.

Overall, it's a shame such accomplished director like John Lasseter chooses to go auto-pilot with his CARS 2 here. Hopefully Pixar will learn their lesson from this movie and do it better the next time around.

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