Racing star Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is lured to race against his Italian rival Francesco Bernoulli (John Torturro) in the inaugural World Grand Prix organised by Sir Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard) to prove his new organic, renewable oil is better than normal petrol. McQueen takes along best friend the towtruck, Mater (Larry The Cable Guy) but is not expecting to be drawn into a massive espionage caper with British agents Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). The race turns out to be the battle ground between good oil and bad oil, with a bunch of bad guys using secret weapons to make sure the baddies win. But they hadn't reckoned on the resourceful Mater ....
Review by Louise Keller:
The best thing about Cars 2 is the wonderfully detailed reality that John Lassiter and the wizards at Pixar have created. In fact there is almost too much to absorb and it will probably take a couple of viewings to do the film justice. The filmmakers have breathed life into a fleet of energetic and colourful cars ready to high-five, whose windscreen eyes blink endearingly and have emotions just like ours. The story is a chaotic mix of espionage, car racing and the value of friendship. Clever, to be sure, but too much to grasp for youngsters, who will relish the extraordinary visuals, the thrilling car races and chases and the spectacle of its international locations.
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), the snazzy, acclaimed red racing car has taken up the challenge from cocky, lime green Italian racing champ Francesco (John Turturro) to hit the tarmac in the Grand Prix in Tokyo, Paris, the Italian Riviera and London. But it is Lightning's best friend, the rusted, dented buck-tooth tow-truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) that is the star of this sequel, as he gets involved in a case of mistaken identity by two British spies working in the field (Michael Caine as Finn McMissile and Emily Mortimer as Holley Shiftwell). The plot involving the former oil baron turned electric car (Eddie Izzard), his wonder fuel, a competing organic fuel and how it all fits together is a tad too complicated but there's a large bonnet full of surprises, laughs and adventures as brilliant action and chaos explodes onscreen.
Watch carefully for the brilliant detail of the design and the fabulously innovative ideas. I love the Geisha cars in Tokyo and the lashings of Wasabi icecream that Mater gobbles- to his peril. His adventure in a Japanese toilet is hilarious - it seems cars have bodily functions, too. There are lovely throw-aways, like the Carmani boutique in Italy, the baddy's numberplate (BAD) and I like the idea of the sequence in the inner-workings of the tick-tock of London's Big Bentley. There's plenty of action too - shooting missiles, cars wheeling tightropes, flying and paragliding and those adrenalin-charged chase sequences.
Pixar has done it again. This is animated filmmaking at its very best and when all the gee-whizzery is stripped away, there's enough heart to keep ours pumping. Great escapism.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Cars do have personalities, of course, and it was a masterstroke to create an animated movie whose characters are an assortment of vehicles. The possibilities are endless, and John Lasseter's team has taken these to new levels in Cars 2. It's utterly brilliant animation, inventive story telling and thrilling spy movie with heart. That just about covers all the bases needed for a massive and popular hit. If you're anywhere between 12 and death, you'll be hard pressed to find a more entertaining escapist movie.
But it all starts with the script; the strength of the story is a well developed combo of global topicality, true friendship, a large scale story with much at stake and ample humour to grease the wheels. It begins in Radiator Springs, just to remind us and ground the story, but we are soon at sea where James Bond's vehicular equivalent, Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) is on a mission to find out what's happening around a massive oil field with dozens of oil rigs.
After a hair raising adventure in which McMissile has to use every atom of his resourcefulness and tricky car gadgets, we are on the way to Italy, Japan and England for the three rounds of the World Grand Prix.
In each location, the filmmakers have great fun in translating familiar, iconic items from each culture into 'car-toon' versions. In Tokyo, for example, small cars use single sleeper chambers that busy salarymen use after working too long at the office. These visual gags fill in quickly as transition points between story points, and enrich the experience. There are many.
The story grows complex as the spies chase down clues to find out who is the secret organiser behind the plot to discredit Sir Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard) and his new oil. The racing sequences are as superb as the heaving oceans, and as the insides of Big Bentley, the location for some death defying action.
Although the star of the film is the thrilling animation, Lasseter knows that's not enough to grab our emotions; the relationship between McQueen (Owen Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is literally the heart of the film, with its notions of trust and respect. Mater, the rusty old country bumpkin, shows what friendship is all about, and he never tries to be anything but what he is.
As a bonus, all sessions of Cars 2 will begin with a wonderfully wicked short featuring Pixar's Toy Story characters, in which Ken and Barbie hope to get a ride with young Bonnie for a Hawaiian vacation - but miss the family car. Woody and team has to improvise . . .
First Published in the Sydney Morning Herald
Email this article
JOHN LASSITER'S DRIVE
CARS 2 (PG)
VOICES: Owen Wilson, Larry The Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruce Campbell, Jason Isaacs, John Turturro, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, Joe Mantegna, Thomas Kretschmann, Cheech Martin,
PRODUCER: Denise Ream
DIRECTOR: John Lasseter (Brad Lewis co-director)
SCRIPT: Ben Queen
MUSIC: Michael Giacchino
RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 23, 2011