Though Pixar’s perfect run hit a speed bump with the original Cars, the ever-impressive animators quickly re-stepped up their game on Ratatouille, Wall·E, Up and Toy Story 3. Cars 2, however, makes for an unwelcome return to the world of by far their worst film to date, and this time, turns in a picture even their inferior competitors would be embarrassed by.
After taking best friend Mater (Larry The Cable Guy) along with him as a crew hand on the World Grand Prix race series, Lightning McQueen’s (Wilson) tow truck buddy inadvertently gets caught up in a whirlwind, and worldwide, conspiracy, and must bluff his way as a secret agent to help expose the villains at its heart.
Whatever the story or world it’s set in, the common value in all Pixar movies is of heartfelt emotion and a keep care for the central character, but Cars 2 is shockingly bland, without any kind of character or charisma. The film pretends to be about true friendship but that’s a quickly forgotten side arm to the would-be thrilling action storyline.
I went in though knowing it wasn’t going to be the usual ‘Pixar’ film, but even with expectations lowered, what followed felt very laboured, boring and uninventive. The narrative and plot are languid, taking forever to develop, with lifeless action or racing sequences in between. Cars 2 doesn’t have the intensity or energy it sorely needs, much of which is thanks to a massively tame score which really lets the film down, leaving it feeling like a second rate spy thriller, not even a good homage or witty take on similar, live-action movies.
This is particularly disappointing given the talent involved, and though the direction from legend John Lasseter and Brad Lewis is OK, it could have been much snappier, the main problem, however, is that there’s so little spark in the scripts and very limited character or plot development over the whole 112-minute runtime.
The visuals are lush, as you’d expect, but that’s not enough from an animated film these days, far from it; Cars 2 is easily the worst film Pixar have ever made, with the other non-critically acclaimed release being the original Cars, whether the sequel is sat at our doors for cinematic or commercial reasons (Cars did some serious business on tie-in merchandise) is up for serious debate.
The voice acting is all fine, nothing extraordinary, the 3-D though, it utterly pointless, serving only to dull-down the would-be bright Pixar visuals.
It’s hugely sad that the Emeryville studio have turned in their first dud but the stark reality is that Cars 2 really offers very little for neither kids nor adults. With a Monster Inc. prequel coming up in 2012, this movie and last year’s Toy Story 3, though the latter was truly brilliant, hopefully franchise reliance isn’t a sign that Pixar are getting lazy and that Brave will prove the doubters wrong next summer.