Ka-chow! Lightning McQueen and gang are back for an exciting, new racing adventure.
Five years after the first movie was released, “Cars 2” has emerged, the successor to one of the most popular animated movies of its time. When “Cars” was released in June 2006, my kids got to see their very first movie, an experience that has lived with them through countless reshowings on video as well as by purchasing related products of each of their favorite characters.
None of this has been lost on its Pixar producers, a company that has teamed up with Disney to produce the sequel to Cars. Unlike the first movie, with a setting in fictional Radiator Springs, Cars 2 is chiefly a global affair with most of the original characters returning and new ones welcomed. Gone is “Doc Hudson” the famous Hudson Hornet whose voice was lent by the late Paul Newman. Evidently, the producers decided to retire the fabled race car instead of bringing in a new voice to replace Newman.
The film is presented in traditional two dimensional as well as in Disney 3D and IMAX 3D, the latter costing $15 a person regardless of age. Our group of five opted for the traditional film, saving us $40 off of the IMAX price.
The plot is surprisingly complex for a children’s flick, but that decision may have been made to keep adult attention focused, but it was distracting at times. The backdrop is the World Grand Prix and, naturally, Lightning McQueen is invited to participate. That means McQueen and most of his Radiator Springs friends tag along as the race begins in Tokyo, shifts to Rome for the second leg before concluding in London for the final leg.
During this race a plot is being hatched where a former oil tycoon, Miles Axelrod, is on hand to promote his alternative fuel, Allinol. We’re treated to a political statement where fossil fuels are bad and alternative fuels are good; too bad the film wasn’t released as the Washington political set decided to defund ethanol. Then again, the veneer may have been thick enough to influence impressionable, young minds. No matter, that subject didn’t come up in the conversation I had with my tween boys following the movie. Perhaps later…maybe never.
It is almost impossible to spoil the plot without offering precise details of how this 1 hour, 53 minute film unfolded. Therefore, I’ll leave those particularities out, while saying this: there is a whole lot of action going on throughout this film, with wonderful artistry used. This film cost $200 million to produce; it should turn a profit sometime this summer. If it doesn’t, Pixar will still make a bundle with all of the toys being sold. I’m sure I’ve dished out about $100 in allowance money and other incentives over the past month or more as my boys snapped up toys from Target, Toys R Us and Walmart. Yes, each store sells exclusive sets.
The list of voices supplied includes Owen Wilson returning as Lightning McQueen and Larry the Cable Guy as Mater. Race car driver Jeff Gordon is Jeff Gorvetti and Lewis Hamilton plays himself. Other names of note include Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, Vanessa Redgrave, Darrell Waltrip and Brent Musburger.
How did Cars 2 stack up against the original? Of the four of us in our group who saw the first film, three thought that the sequel was better. I was the lone hold out, preferring the original as I found the new film to be drawn out and the Hudson Hornet was sorely missed. But, I’ve been outvoted and will accept the results – after all, when Lightning McQueen and Mater are together, the action is certain to go “ka-chow” even if Mater almost went “ka-pow!”