Pixar’s 12th animated film is in many ways a departure from their previous films, even from the original (and hugely successful) Cars (2006). This time around we only briefly visit the small town of Radiator Springs, where we quickly learn that Lightning Mc Queen has been invited to compete in the World Grand Prix – the biggest and most prestigious racing event in the world, and his best friend mater is along for the ride.
This is more of a spin off than a sequel, with the rusty sidekick Mater taking centre stage while Lightning competes in the World Grand Prix. Through a series of often hilarious misunderstandings, Mater gets mistaken for an international secret agent, which kicks off a plot of globetrotting, eyeball pleasing fun. More than any other previous Pixar effort, this is completely an action film. Lots of homages to various James Bond films are played out, the races are exciting and intense, and very little time is wasted between all of the explosions, chases, daring escapes and shootouts.
All the main characters are back (aside from Doc Hudson, originally voiced by the late great Paul Newman) and as you’d expect, there’s some new ones joining the virtual cast. Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell ( Emily Mortimer) are two British secret agent cars, whose investigations lead them to the World Grand Prix races where their missions become intertwined with McQueen and Mater. As usual with Pixar films, everybody who has lent their voice has done a great job, fitting perfectly with their characters.
And of course, it’s a Pixar film, so it looks incredible. From a technical perspective, they yet again raise the bar, and you would expect no less from a company that literally invented what we now know as 3D computer animation.
From an artistic point of view, some of the location designs are really incredible. The automotive twist on the many real-world locations in the film are constantly surprising and entertaining. The more you look at the world of Cars, the more you will see, Bi-plane pigeons, car shaped cliff sides and even the odd motorized take on Pixar’s previous films.
Like most modern animated films, Cars 2 is presented in 3D. This defiantly adds to the visual flare of the experience, while also allowing you to see some extra detail that you may not usually notice. The race sections of the film are especially a highlight for the 3D, enhancing the feeling of speed and of course the excitement of the action. My personal recommendation is to sit closer to the screen than you normally would, as the 3D is much more effective.
This is a great family summer film, full to the brim with fast paced action and great comedy. This isn’t your usual Pixar film, but they’ve yet again proved they’re the best animation team in the world.