Directed by John Lasseter. Starring Owen Wilson, Larry The Cable Guy, John Turturro, Michael Caine.
I didn’t think much of the first Cars film finding it too juvenile but it is Pixar and you have to give them credit for their brilliance by going and watching their creations. Unfortunately, even the biggies get things wrong sometimes and Cars 2, at two hours run time, is a bit of a snooze-fest with clichéd dialogue that’s so pedantic even a child would want to hightail it out of the theatre.
Ace race car Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is a star now but he does come back home to Radiator Springs and his old buddies to get a vacation that is suddenly cut short by a challenge to race in the World Grand Prix hosted by Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard) whose new alternative fuel Allinol is slated to revolutionise the world of travel. But the real story here isn’t the race. Some clunker cars are plotting to disrupt the race at all costs. But British Intelligence agent Finn McMissile (Caine) and his trusty Lady Friday Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) are on the case. It’s like James Bond and Miss Moneypenny.
McQueen’s sidekick Tow Mater (Larry The Cable Guy, whose real name is Daniel Lawrence Whitney, a comedian) inadvertently gets entangled in the cloak and dagger intrigue; it’s Brit Intelligence paired up with ‘Average Intelligence’ as Mater puts it. One of the few laugh-out-loud lines in the film unfortunately (sorry for giving it away).
The first half of Cars 2 goes about establishing how witless and country-bumpkin Mater is to the point even best bud McQueen is ashamed of him. I’m a fan of Owen Wilson but his dreary lines and delivery are sleep inducing. In any case, he’s not the hero. It’s Mater all the way with McMissile a close second. That’s the story line that they should have stuck to but somehow it never really achieves greatness. I loved the gadgets and Bond style antics but the whole thing seemed like a cartoon and not an animated film — though the level of visualisation and detail is very high — of the maturity and bravado we’ve seen in Toy Story 3, Rango or even Rio.
Michael Caine and Larry The Cable Guy (ah the Americans and their penchant for mindless monikers) keep you from nodding off as one of my colleagues was trying to avoid doing. The racing feel in the first setup in Tokyo was akin to Speed Racer with a lot of neon but then the races just fall flat.
I must mention that I attended a special screening of this film with ‘brand new 3-D technology’ presented by sound partners Dolby, tech company Barco and Mumbai’s very own forgotten relic Sterling Cinema. New 3-D glasses with ‘theft proof tags’ and sunglass-type lenses were provided. Yes the clarity and brightness seemed better but as for 3-D, I’m sorry, it was average. The only 3-D that’s impressed me in the recent past has been Tron: Legacy (and that’s only in IMAX).
Cars 2 is disappointing, dull and too long a ride with a destination that is far from worth the bumpy ride.
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