THE UNITED STATES OF GEEKDOM
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Rick's Review of Cars 2

I will admit that I love all the Pixar movies quite a bit.  All of them have a certain charm and way of storytelling that make them second to none in terms of quality.  Their animation techniques get better and better with each subsequent film.  Some I like more than others.  Bug's Life and Cars being at the bottom of my list and Up, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Wall-E being at the very top for me.  Regardless, even the least Pixar film delivers solid entertainment. Which brings me to...

Not yet.  Can't go there just yet.

See, Pixar has a tradition to release an animated short with each of their films.  This one was a nice little follow up to Toy Story 3.  Basically letting us check in on Woody and the rest of Andy's toys where we left them at the close of last year's film.  This short is what happens when the toys are left behind and Ken and Barbie stow away in the backpack of the little girl who now owns Woody and the gang.  This 30 second clip should give you an idea with no spoilers at all...



What follows is easily one of the funniest things I have seen in a Pixar short.  They know funny but there is one gag that I was not expecting them to take it in the direction they did and it is nothing short of brilliant in execution and the resulting confusion on the part of one character in particular is hysterical.  This short has charm to spare and it is incredibly funny and it was great for us to have the opportunity to check in on these beloved characters.

Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation Grade: A+

And now, Cars 2.  Be warned, I will delve into spoiler territory here...

This is not a nostalgic trip down Route 66 as the first movie was.  I enjoyed the first movie and I give Cole a lot of crap about not seeing it but I can understand that the anthropomorphous vehicle concept is something that is not for everyone.  (If you think I am letting Cole off the hook for at least the first one, you are sorely mistaken however.)  However, Cars 2 dares to do something at the onset that I was not expecting at all.  Pixar has made a hardcore spy movie in the style of James Bond.  Or at least that is what we are lead to believe.  The opening is something right out of a 007 movie and it is exhilarating and serves as an excellent introduction for the Aston Martin names Finn McMissile, who is a devonaire British Spy.  Then we go to the secondary storyline where Lightning McQueen has been challenged to be part of the world Grand Prix to prove that a new "green" fuel can be a viable alternative for gasoline.  Mater comes along as McQueen's Pit Crew Chief and hilarity more or less ensues.

Here's the deal.  I am not someone who hates the character of Mater.  In fact, I thought he one of the best parts of the first movie.  However, this movie will test your patience with him because he is in almost every single scene and at first he comes off as extremely annoying but he gets his due at the end and it is a very nice payoff.  The breakout character though is Finn McMissile.  Voiced by Michael Caine, this character is a nice nod to the 007 films and my only wish is that they could have set the movie in the same universe but with the secret agent cars as the primary focus.  They are that entertaining.  The action sequences are wonderful and the gadgetry that John Lasseter and crew manage to pull off is really neat too.  Needless to say that I badly want a movie that focuses solely on Finn McMissile and his agency.  He is that great of a character.

Now is the time for me to get into why I love the Pixar films in general.  It is the attention to detail and they only get better with each successive movie.  Cars 2 is absolutely no exception to this.  In fact, there is so much detail crammed into every frame of the movie that you are hard pressed to see it again just to see what is going on in the background.    The animation is absolutely gorgeous and is a MAJOR step up from Toy Story 3.  That's saying a lot because Toy Story 3 was incredible in terms of its animation.  The race animation in particular is something that really caught my attention because you could see the heat radiating from the track.

The overall look of this world is something that I absolutely loved.  The Cars Universe's renditions of Japan, Italy, and England are a marvel to behold and the detail in all of these exotic locales is beautiful.  Needless to say I enjoyed quite a bit of Cars 2.  The story could have used some tweaking but regardless, I enjoyed it for what it was.  My little boy loved it.  Like I said before, even lesser Pixar is GREAT Pixar.  This movie is proof of that. 

FINAL GRADE: B+

Which reminds me: We are almost to hitting our goal of 100 posts for Cole to see the first Cars.  Keep that feedback coming in!
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