Cars was one of the few Pixar films that I didn’t really get into. I watched it but found that it just lacked the spark of other Pixar films that really made them standout and enjoyable features to watch. So I was somewhat surprised when they announced Cars 2 coming up in the slate of films due for release. Fast forward a couple of years and Cars 2 is released to the world (and to generally bad reviews) and as I’d hate to miss a Pixar classic I dragged myself off to the cinema to see it.
I think one of the flaws of the first film is that it’s focuses around a very American style of motor-racing. I think this dropped some of the world-wide appeal, which is something that is corrected very quickly in this film – bringing in a host of race cars from around the world representing a range of nationalities. Unfortunately these leads to a couple of squeezed in cameos (Lewis Hamilton can’t really act) and the story of the film moves around the world for a new Grand Prix taking in a variety of locales, Through into the mix a spy storyline featuring one of the main characters and a conspiracy behind the main Grand Prix/commentary on renewable fuels then you’ve got a filled film with a lot mix of different ideas.
The spy side of the storyline was done perfectly – this felt like a classic Bond film – even the music seems to have been thought out to match the tone of the sequences with some fantastic surf guitar matching the tone and the action of the screen. The race sequences also remain exciting but they get a bit samey after a while, though effort is put into these to keep them a bit different. Once disappointment for me was after all the effort put into Speedracer and the car-fu, this seems to have been lost – possibly intentionally to keep a different stylistic approach. The conspiracy angle of the film seems to be there to tie the other two threads together and is the weakest aspect of the mix. I found that I was able to guess the final reveal from about 15 minutes into the film but I don’t think this was intended as a huge shock ending, more a device to link the separate ideas.
I found that I enjoyed the film a lot more than I expected I was going to, but it still wasn’t up there with some of the great Pixar moments. It is an example of what animators can do when they are in the right mood – with a huge volume of detail being thrown onto the screen (with some fantastic pun names hidden in the background) – it’s a film that certainly would stand up to future viewings from this level of detail and little jokes.
All in all, it was a fun forgettable romp – it’s not going to be held as one of Pixar’s greats, but sometimes we need to do those things that we enjoy because we enjoy them rather than try and pleasing everyone.