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16 years ago, Pixar Animation Studios released the first feature length
computer animated film in history, Toy Story. What followed was an
incredible run of success, an 11 film hot streak that yielded dozens of
awards (including 11 Oscars), billions of dollars in box office
receipts, and the admiration of audiences and critics everywhere. Year
after year Pixar was a company you could rely on, and while not all the
films were perfect, they all were at least of decent quality, and light
years ahead of their competition from the likes of Dreamworks and Sony.
So therefore it's heart-breaking to say that Pixar's hot streak has
come to a crashing halt in 2011. Cars 2 is not just the weakest film in
Pixar's catalogue, it is the worst high-profile animated release for
If there is one Pixar film that divides opinion much more than any other, it is 2006's Cars. While by no means a bad film, it just didn't hit in the same way as films like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, or The Incredibles. It did middling numbers at the box office (by Pixar standards) and currently sits with a 74% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the only film from the studio below 90%. For director John Lasseter (also head of Pixar), Cars is obviously a very personal film, a nostalgic story about the loss small-town American values in the face of increased modernity. If it's not a complete success, credit must be given to Lasseter for at least trying to say something meaningful, and in typical Pixar fashion the film stands out in the increasingly crowded computer animation film market for at least attempting thematic depth, and it's ability to reach audiences both young and old. Cars 2 on the other hand is completely devoid of depth and subtlety, and will more than likely annoy adults while at times being arguably inappropriate for children. Returning director Lasseter takes the worst character from the first film (in my opinion the biggest reason for Cars' failure), and structures the whole story around his infuriating exploits. Imagine George Lucas, upon seeing the negative feedback following The Phantom Menace, making all of Episode 2 about Jar-Jar Binks. That's the kind of thing we're left with in Cars 2. Compounding the story problems is the troubling amount of guns and violence in the film. To make the argument that 'it's OK because they're just cars' is inexcusable. This is still supposed to be a children's film, and while the espionage sub-plot does have potential, there are elements that seem shockingly unsuitable for young kids.
This brings up a question: why would Pixar choose to revisit the only film they have produced which could conceivably be called a failure? Lasseter is on record as saying that the company would only explore sequels to their films if a good story could be developed, and the level of quality of the two Toy Story sequels seems to back up this sentiment, but it's hard to believe that anyone would think the script of Cars 2 is worthy of that high standard. Interestingly, there is one other way that Cars stands apart from other Pixar films: the estimated $8 billion merchandising revenues. While all Pixar films have profited from merchandising, none have had the global appeal of Cars. It's upsetting to think that Pixar, a company who seemed previously to place greater importance on the quality of its films than the bottom line, have gone for the easy cash grab, but there really seems to be no other reason for the existence of Cars 2. Everything about the films seems designed to increase the potential for selling merchandise, whether it's the films global locations which pander to international audiences, or the increasingly ridiculous characters and set-pieces, tailor made to be toys and video games. It's a cynical opinion, one which I had hoped I'd never feel towards a Pixar film, but it is undeniably true: Cars 2 is a film created not as an artistic endeavour, but to feed ancillary markets.
Pixar's golden run had to end sometime, and one bad film is a small price to pay for 11 good, with two or three being genuine masterpieces. What is most unfortunate is the catastrophic level of Cars 2's failure, and Pixar will undoubtedly lose a lot of respect for making such a soulless film, unworthy of the studio's name.
We all know that Pixar makes incredible movies, I personally have never
disliked a Pixar film. The first "Cars" film, was a great movie, not a
perfect film. It was one of the least better films, Pixar has made, but
that's like saying, Insomnia was one of Christopher Nolan's worst
films. I had high expectations when coming to see the film, like I
always have before I see a Pixar film.
After my viewing of the film, I have to say Pixar never fails to produce a great, entertaining film. Although it doesn't reach the heights of Wall-E, Toy Story 3, etc. It still stands by itself pretty high up there. The animation is extremely well done, the look of the film is amazing. The voice actors are great, I miss Paul Newman though. Although the film is not perfect. The movie is not perfect though, the story is not great, but not bad, the movie does not have the emotional as other Pixar films, but it is definitely not a heartless film. But the film is definitely entertaining and a great beginning to 2011 Summer movie season. Take your whole family to see this movie, it will probably not disappoint. It will not only satisfy kids, but also the adults, this film is for everyone. Fun for kids, but the adults can also connect with it and will have a great time watching this movie in theaters. It is quite an adventure and I will be glad to give it a second viewing.
We hoped it would never happen, but no one is perfect. Even the best
can stumble. This had to happen eventually. Even the string of terrific
Disney's classic films and the 90s Disney Renaissance didn't last
forever. I'm afraid that, yes, Pixar has made a bad film.
Cars 1 was their least ambitious film. The story was predictable and character development obvious making it their most mediocre film. It was good but it lacked that little extra touch that made their films great. However, they had some great side characters, a heart, and wonderful scenes that elevated it up beyond most other films. But ever since this film's announcement I always wondered why. McQueen had his story and there's not much else to tell. Like Finding Nemo, where else is there to go? And I'd rather see sequels to better movies like The Incredibles, even Bug's Life seems to have more potential. It's easy to see why they made a sequel to it, since all you need to do is go to Disneyland or any Disney Store and see it covered in McQueen and Mater, which happened to be two my of three year-old cousin's first words. Off all the Pixar films, Cars made the most with the merchandise.
The biggest problem is the story. Cars 1, while predictable, was touching. Cars 2 has almost no heart or character development. The focus shifts from McQueen to Mater. McQueen had his story in the first and there's little to tell here. He has one character moment that's essentially the same realization as the first film's. The problem with Mater is that he's such a simple character. Everything about him is on the surface for all to see. He's the same person throughout the movie, with one predictable realization which goes no where, that he doesn't warrant his own film. He's like Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove. They're both terrific side characters but lack enough complexity for a full story. And Larry the Cable Guy has always been better with the other Blue Collar guys rather than on his own.
While Cars 1's highlight was its side characters, this movie almost abandons them. They do nothing. McMissile is a moving plot device and little more. Shiftwell is supposed to be a love interest but lacks any interesting moments. The rest of Radiator Springs basically sit back while McQueen and Mater have all the fun. Their stories and character are pushed aside so Larry can have fun being Mater. Because of this, there are almost no funny little side scenes where characters just have fun being themselves. Instead, most of the humor is derived from seeing Mater do silly things.
The look is impressive but not more than anything else Pixar's done. With each movie, the studio has pushed the graphics into new levels. Each movie has had some wow moment where audiences can't help but be amazed by what they're seeing. There were times in Cars 1 when it looked almost real. Cars 2 lacks any wow factor. One of the most impressive sets, Tokyo, were already spoiled by the Tokyo Mater short. This more than anything makes me wonder if Pixar was even trying to up the ante or if they were just using what they had to make a movie a year.
Spies and Cars seems to work well together. After all, any Bond or Bourne film will easily demonstrate why the two go together. Indeed, the opening scene on the drilling platform is easily the best with the fast chase and cool gadgets. But they weren't able to properly combine the racing and spy elements, almost as if you're watching two movies at once. There's too much spy stuff for the racing to be interesting, which becomes pointless against the overpowering and overly clichéd spy story. Perhaps Pixar should have set it as simply a spy movie set in the Cars universe and had McQueen and his friends in cameos or as a background story.
Another lousy spot is the music. Cars 1 had a terrific soundtrack with excellent uses of popular songs like Life is a Highway and Route 66. But there's not one memorable song or music cue in this movie. Giacchino usually does terrific work like with The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Up. But he too fumbles the ball here. Perhaps he was just uninspired by what he had to work with.
Cars is Lasseter's pet project. But I think he's too close to it. He's got that Lucas Star Wars prequel trilogy problem. The people around him either were in awe of the man who made Pixar and Toy Story or they were afraid to hurt his feelings since he loves the Cars franchise so much. Pixar efforts have been so well done because they were collaborative efforts, each fixing each other's problems to make a better project. But with Lasseter off working more directly with Disney, he really should have had a co-director or perhaps given the reins to someone else like he did with Toy Story 3.
I almost rated this movie higher. It is fun while you're watching it, even if as soon as it's over it becomes too easy to pick apart the problems. But this is Pixar. They've dominated the animation market since Toy Story and have been pushing the boundaries at the Academy Awards ever since. To see them stumble with a not-so-great film would be one thing. But they're coming off from two Best Picture nominees to a movie that's simply flashy but with little substance. Kids will love the bright colors and silly antics, but parents will hate having to then buy twelve new Mater toys. Cars 2 is stalled and in need of a tune-up.
Espionage, assassinations, sabotage of renewable energy, propaganda,
corporate cover-ups, media manipulation and The Mob...
James Bond? Nope. Jason Bourne? Nope.
Disney/Pixar's CARS 2. Wow. This movie wasn't at all what I was expecting. In the second serving of Lightning McQueen and his pals, they take their show to the international stage in a world championship race-off sponsored by oil-alternative manufacturer, Allinol. But turmoil behind the scenes pulls the gang into a world of spies, the Mob, Big Oil, evil German scientists and hit men. Now they have to save the world before it's too late. Oh, and they race too. The animation is amazing. Water, large balloons, backgrounds during races...pay attention because the quality of the graphics in this one are world-class. There are some goofy, funny moments and some nice one- liners for the older crowd. The themes of being true to yourself and bonds of friendship run strong throughout this film but it's the remainder of the message that worried me. There were non-stop put downs throughout and some other questionable topics. I was beginning to question the G rating when the villain ordered his henchmen to "kill" several other cars. Thinking back to the innocence and the good spirit of the first movie, I began to wonder how we got from there to here. Adventures in racing take a back-seat to the more mature plot of an espionage thriller. Looking around the theater, I could tell that kids younger than 4 or 5 were beginning to get lost. Even my ten-year-old had a hard time understanding the socio-political messages. On top of all that, I'd be willing to bet that Cars 2 is a contender for most guns, explosions and bullets fired in a G-Rated movie. This movie had much more violence than the first one.
Aside from the appropriateness of the movie, it wasn't bad. All the likable characters from the first movie were back with bigger roles like 'Mater & Luigi and there were many new characters added that also brought their own personalities into the mix. To me, this was an espionage-thriller so the added bonus of some comedy made the movie move right along at a good pace.
It was engaging for me, I enjoyed it, but the entire time I couldn't help but wonder why Disney/Pixar chose to tell this story through a kids movie.
As an ardent fan of the first Cars, I was shocked at what an absolute
mess this movie is. I was prepared for a certain level of
disappointment from the trailers, but I didn't expect the sheer
second-rate train wreck that is this movie. All the heart of the first
film has been chucked out the window on the way to cashing in on
McQueen has been practically relegated to minor character status here (one wonders why Owen Wilson even bothered showing up). Occasional glimmers of clever humor are all but eclipsed by a rickety plot that can't bear the weight of all it's trying to accomplish. Mater's hi-jinx as the centerpiece of a ridiculous (and unfunny) spy plot go from annoying to disturbing as the violence ratchets up. While several critics have claimed this sequel is aimed at particularly young audiences, no other children's movie you're likely to see in the near future does more to glorify gun violence.
Pixar has sucked all the dimensionality out of every returning character, and the new ones it's added are so one-dimensional as to be nonexistent. This is a pathetic offering from a studio that should know better.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We went to see Cars 2 with my boys who are 6 years old. We all loved
the first movie, it had a simple to follow, heart-warming story and NO
This movie had TONS of violence, guns, "dead" cars, cars getting bashed, burned, tortured. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!? Just because it was cars and not people did you think the kids wouldn't notice? It was a very hard to follow story for them. A full-on James Bond movie, with twists and gadgets, except in animation and with cars instead of humans.
My twins could not repeat the story back to us when asked afterward. Espionage, oil wars and the likes were lost on the younger audience. The violence was full-on. Even Mater, the plain, redneck, lovable character was fitted with machine guns!! In fact the movie was more a Mater movie than a Lightning McQueen movie. We see McQueen in very few scenes compared. It more like a full feature Mater Tale than a sequel to the movie... plus it wasn't about racing at all but rather about oil wars.
Very disappointing. My husband made a good point, he said it was as if it was aimed to the 8 year old who watched the original 5 years ago and are now 13 years old. Certainly NOT aimed at young kids. If your kids are very young and you do not approve of violence, beatings, killings and guns DO NOT TAKE THEM. I wish someone had warned us, we wouldn't have gone.
I can't fathom what Pixar was thinking! I am now dreading Monsters INC 2... it will most certainly be ... I don't know... full of blood and guts? That seems to be their next step...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've watched the first movie with my kids a 100 times and we still love
But for the sequel, I should have known something was wrong with this movie when I saw a Mater toy with pop out machine guns.
Mafia boss cars torturing, saying "Kill him" and killing another car. My kids were 2.5 and 4 years old. Had I known I would not have taken my children. Questionable G-Rating. This is Cars meets Bourne Identity/James Bond. One car gets bashed in a bathroom fight scene, like in many adult movies.
Young kids were not following the plot. Oil companies, mafia, espionage etc.
The first movie had a great heart warming story and many great characters. There ware no memorable characters in this movie. The first had great music and scenes and action and is re-watchable many times.....where-as I was bored in the sequel...boring and too long.
I wish they developed the locations and characters more. Have a London Bus character etc like they had Radiator Springs characters in the first.
My kids had their first cinema experience and their first sequel disappointment! :) And I'm a little angry at some of the violence.
When I go to see a Pixar movie I expect to be blown away. Cars 2 simply did not. There were many problems with Cars 2, mainly that the story strength just was not there. Yes it did have some funny moments but they were few and far between. The main problem with this movie however was that Pixar made Mater, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, the main character. After 20 minutes into the movie I wanted to leave because of how annoying he was. Larry is annoying as a human, making him a the main character as a car is just stupid. It was honestly the only Pixar movie so far that I left feeling completely nothing. What a disappointment this was as this topped my summer movie list. What a disappointment...
The saddest thing about Pixar today is, they don't know what movie they
are going to release on their 25th Anniversary since one of their
upcoming projects "Newt" was cancelled despite from Blue Sky's Rio
plot. Cars 2 feels like it's a direct-to-DVD film. It's not really bad
but it's just unnecessary. Though, the action is pretty cool. The kids
will enjoy it but the rest is like Rango. Instead of Western Themes,
it's Spy movies. The story isn't bad except it doesn't give anything
emotional and heartwarming unlike the other Pixar movies. Cars 2 is
pretty fun but the most important ingredient of their movies is
Firstly, the lead of the film is Mater. The theme of the film is Espionage but it's just some sort of an animated version of a particular spy movie. Everything moves here. There are too many action that any kid can enjoy but the story is probably too interesting for grown ups. If the movie gets focused to the plot, the kids might get bored. The missing Pixar element here is the heartwarming moments. The movie still has a heart but it fails to be compelling. Don't worry about the humor, that is one thing they will never fail. Some of the writing seems rushed.
The voices do what they do best. John Lasseter knows what to do in this movie. The animation is obviously pretty good. The score is a bit generic that you may hear in any movie or television show. The action keeps everything moving. Watching the car fighting scenes is like watching a kid playing his little toy cars and let them do something fun. Which is pretty impressive.
In Pixar, the craftsmanship or the animation doesn't quite matter. It's all about the compelling story and the emotional heartwarming moments. It's hard to say Cars 2 is bad film. Pixar still knows how to make a good movie but without their important elements, it's like you're watching a movie from a different studio. Once again, it's pretty fun but if you expect a lot of Pixar magic then you might get disappointed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm finding myself very disappointed by the generally critics about
"Cars 2", and I found the nucleus of the issue the fact that Pixar's
latest movies have had a very philosophical idea floating around
(Wall-e, Up, Toy Story 3) and the "Cars" franchise it's not about that.
Does "Ratatouille" have a philosophical script? I'm afraid not, "A Bugs Life"? Sure not, But they accomplish another goal, they were made for another approach, a different image and a different perception of the movie.
Is Pixar a philosophy-related books maker? Is Pixar a adult-animations producer? They're not, they're great storytelling guys (They found out a way to link the whole world without making a "Around the World in 80 Days" film), they make the gorgeous 3D scenarios (I was astonished by the great detail of London and Porto Corsa) and they develop almost perfect characters (Who in the world will link as many cars parts with body parts as Pixar did?) and most important, they bring entertainment to the audience, and "Cars 2" fills all those gaps.
I'm afraid this is the result of what happens when someone (in this case Pixar) develops a great reputation and suddenly they came up with something different of what we are used to, and it became for some people a "horrifying" creation.
I enjoyed "Cars 2" since the stressful opening scene until the happy ending and I think is because I entered the theater hoping to have a great time, fun and a visually amazing experience, and not hoping to find the anthropological greatest creation, and that's exactly what I got.
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