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    August 24, 2011

    MOVIE REVIEW: CARS 2

    CARS 2 (U)

    Genre: Action/Adventure/Animation
    Release Date: 25 August 2011
    Running Time: 106 minutes
    Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
    Director: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
    Screenplay: Ben Queen; based on story by John Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Dan Fogelman
    Starring:Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jason Isaacs
    Plot:Star racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places in Cars 2 when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world's fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and the stunning spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).

    Review: The critics from the Stateside have spoken and we should have heard it loudly by now. With an anemic 37% on the Rotten Tomatoes meter, this is the worst-performing Pixar movies ever. It will also goes down to the record book for been the first that has a 'Rotten' tag into the long-running streak of 'Fresh-ness'. By Pixar's own standard, they never failed to impress the critics but the same situation cannot be said and be described in a nutshell for Cars 2. Is Pixar at fault for this intended sequel? What goes wrong for the Cars 2? What makes the sequel to the already-worst Pixar's film (Cars was the previous holder of the worst-performing Pixar's movie) into critic-trashing?


    ‘Cars 2’ opens with a James Bond-infused opening scene where we are introduced into a mysterious and suspicious scheme that revolves around the use of a high technology device that resembles a television camera been developed in the deep sea oil rigs. Agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) is sent into the scene to investigate the anomaly. When the investigating mission goes awry, he turns to an inexperience analyst Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) for answers. Meanwhile, four-time Piston Cup champion race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) decides to join the inaugural ‘World Grand Prix’ following an open challenge posed by Italian formula race car Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) and an unintended intervention by McQueen’s best buddy Tow Matter (Larry the Cable Guy). The inaugural event makes it compulsory for all racers to use the Allinol biofuel, which former oil tycoon Miles Axlerod’s (Eddie Izzard) hopes to use the event to promote his new developed fuel.

    Later, it is revealed that the television camera was developed by a mad scientist known as Professor Zundapp (Thomas Krestchmann) and an unknown mastermind. The gang owns the largest untapped oil reserve in the world and plans to sabotage Axlerod’s ambition to pursue the green power. They secretly use the device to ignite the Allinol fuel in the targeted race car during the ‘World Grand Prix’ to cause unreasonable explosion which put the public doubt on the safety of the biofuel. Finn McMissile and Holly Shiftwell attempt to foil the plot by making a rendezvous with their American contact at the ‘World Grand Prix’ promotional event in Tokyo in order to receive information about the mastermind. However, they mistaken Mater as the American contact. As the result, Mater is dragged along into the impossible act to juggle between the spy missions and to help McQueen to win the ‘World Grand Prix’.


    Despite of what you have heard from the critics, ‘Cars 2’ is not that bad at all. However, the biggest hindrance for this movie to follow the suits of other Pixar movies is the scarce in emotional linkage. It feels like a ‘Mater’s movie’ than a ‘McQueen’s movie’. The first movie plays around the character Lightning McQueen which we have some fun seeing his transformation from been a cocky driver to one that has all his hearts out to become a champion. This one is more on the character Mater whom realized that he is pretty much ‘stupid’ while he tangled with the undercover operation with a ‘James Bond’. Mater pecks all the annoyance as it builds up but he ends up lacking the excitement. Therefore, ‘Cars 2’ does not show a strong emotional outing like other Pixar movies in the past and it limits itself of been just beefy in action but soft in heart.


    While any new characters are most welcome into the series, the Radiance Springs residences are relegated into supporting roles that appear once in a while. The sequel proves that the relevance of the car-racing is not the biggest asset in the movie as Pixar adds in the espionage fatale plot into it. Call it a bad decision by Pixar by making ‘Cars 2’ having almost nothing in connection to the first one. Of course, it is the good will (at some level) from the first movie that has been carried out to here. Don’t get me wrong. Mater is an enjoyable character but I think that he works well if he is a supporting character or sidekick to McQueen. 

    Been a Pixar movie that has lack in emotion doesn’t make it a bad movie. The movie is amusing all rounds but may get a lot more convoluted. The movie delivers a rather complicated plot, just like Mater, the audience will find it pretty much in need to juggle between the racing and undercover stories. Fortunately enough, it is still punching out a good entertainment ride for the minors – with more explosions and gun fights than Pixar’s standards. Of course, the visual is still dazzling and stunning, all thanks to the more realistic color painted on the majestic skylines of Tokyo, Riviera and London.


    ‘Cars 2’ is not as bad as we may have thought. Yes, Pixar has lower their spectrum range by chalking the less hearty and empathy character to anchor the story and it ends up been lack in emotional outing. The story is much more convoluted to be accepted but still possesses a good riddance adventure of 105-minutes running across the world. On the other note, it is apparent that some bad decisions made by Pixar on this sequel may have been the major factor for the low rating.

    THE RATING:
    Story: 3.0
    Casts: 3.5
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 4.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 13.8/20.0

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