Pixar Animation Studios review: Cars 2

Pixar's 12th film.
Pixar’s 12th film.

http://kisscartoon.me/Cartoon/Cars-2/Movie?id=1973

My opinion right after watching film

Okay………. my opinion right after watching the film is that…….. I am still confused, and I have a lot of questions. Usually things are easily cleared up in Pixar films, but I honestly found myself more and more confused as the film went on. The film is not as horrible as I thought it was going to be (never watched it in full, and its reception kind of scared me), but…… I do not get what to take away from the film. Maybe all of the literal trash films that I have watched over the last few years have dimmed me to this film in comparison. Just very confused, and I…… I need to get it all out. Honestly, there IS potential with the Cars franchise, and something tells me that the world, characters, etc. might have been better realized if it was a TV show. Obviously that would not have happened, since TV shows regarding Disney/Pixar ended in the early 2000s, and did not pick back up until early next year.

Production

The concept for this film was created during the promotional period of Cars, where the crew was traveling all over the world, and Lasseter would think “What would Mater do in this situation?” Countless registered domain names were popping up in 2009, indicating that the film could be titled something in relation to the World Grand PrixThe film was supposed to be released in the summer of 2012, but was pushed forward a year.

A few months before the film was released, Disney was sued by a U.K screenwriter named Jake Mandeville-Anthony, who claimed that the idea for the Cars franchise was his, and that the company broke copyright infringement. The case was soon dismissed because Disney has the best lawyers in the world.

Three actors passed away after the first film was completed in production. Joe Ranft died in a car accident a few months before the first film was released, George Carlon (who voiced Filmore) had a heart attack in June of 2008, and Paul Newman passed away due to cancer in September of 2008. Ranft’s character (Red) was silent in the movie, while Filmore had another voice actor, and Doc Hudson passed away before the events of this film, since they refer to him in past tense. We also know this because of the plot synopsis of Cars 3 so far.

Story 

The film starts with a car named Leeland Turbo (Jason Isaacs) identify calling for backup after he made some sort of discovery involving untapped oil, only to be discovered by cars, and is later killed. We then get to see a grey car named Finn McMissle (Michael Cain) taken to an oil landscape, and after discovering that his colleague was killed, he is discovered, and runs away from the other cars. Finn ends up faking his death, and the other cars mutter “Who can stop us now?” and we instantly pan to Mater (Larry the Cable Guy)…

Why is he the protagonist? He was comedy relief in the last film, and that was more hit or miss at best. I ma here for making deuteragonists and side characters the protagonist, but you need to do it in a way that it does not completely shift the tension and tone of the franchise. This film is already trying me. Back to the film, Mater is fixing a car named Otis (Jeff Garlin), who has leaked for the 10th time this month, and the two engage in a bunch of leaking jokes...... Anyways, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) comes back to town with his fourth Piston Cup (he won all of them after the first film). We learn that they renamed it to the Hudson Cup after Doc Hudson, and there is a touching moment about it. It gives me a flashback to Toy Story 3, where Woody mentions Bo Peep. It is a hint or a detail that the producers are currently building from to use as another sequel.
Why is he the protagonist? He was comedy relief in the last film, and that was more hit or miss at best. I am here for making deuteragonists and side characters the protagonist, but you need to do it in a way that it does not completely shift the tension and tone of the franchise. This film is already trying my patience and tolerance.
Back to the film, Mater is fixing a car named Otis (Jeff Garlin), who has leaked for the 10th time this month, and the two engage in a bunch of leaking jokes…… Anyways, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) comes back to town with his fourth Piston Cup (he won all of them after the first film). We learn that they renamed it to the Hudson Cup after Doc Hudson, and there is a touching moment about it. It gives me a flashback to Toy Story 3, where Woody mentions Bo Peep. It is a hint or a detail that the producers are currently building from to use as another sequel.

The two best friends have a good old time, but Mater wants to hog him all to himself, while Lightning just wants to go on a dinner date with Sally (Bonnie Hunt)….. just…. the… two… of…. them. Mater seems to get this, but he crashes their date as a waiter *insert eye roll*. Most of the people in the restaurant are watching the TV, which is showing how oil tycoon Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard) was stranded, and he changed into an electric car, which he has since promoted. It changes to the Mel Dorado Show, which talks about the Italian equivalent of the last villain named Frencesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) is on the show. They talk about how Lightning wants a break after a busy season from the Global Grand Prix, and Mater calls the show to rant on and on about Lightning. The couple overhear it, and Sally gushes about Francesco (which Lightning obviously does not appreciate). Lightning agrees to race Francesco around the world, and Sally pushes him to take Mater with him. Thanks Sally -_-.

We get a montage of the two travelling to Tokyo, and there are still some questions about the car universe. We now know they can die, and they apparently eat human food….. It would have been nice to get at least some sort of premise or background on how this world came to be, or existed, or even some of the rules in any of these films. It is my issue with the Monsters, Inc franchise as well. Lightning’s pit crew obviously joins him, and Mater tells Francesco about how much of a fan Sally is of him, which irritates Lightning. We get back to the spy plot when Finn shows up to meet technical and diagnostic agent Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) about the lemons (the bad people from the opening scene) surrounding the room, and that they are supposed to meet the american spy, whom no one received a picture of. Mater decides it is a smart idea to eat a bunch of wasabi, which causes him to ruin Lightning’s speech with Alllinol CEO Axlerod, as he drinks the water behind them, which was used as a sign for the company. He ends up leaking in front of everyone, and Lightning embarrassingly demands that he takes care of himself.

The American spy named Rod Redline (Bruce Campbell) gets attacked by some of the lemons in the washroom, while Mater is in the washroom. The spy ends up putting the bug about him being a spy onto the toe truck, so when Holley approaches him, she is not thrilled that Mater is the spy. Why is Holley in the field when she is not a field agent? Was there no one else there? And why did the American spy plant the information. It is good that he is because he ends up being killed and tortured by the lemon crew anyways. Holley speaks to Mater, and he thinks she is trying to get with him. I don't really know why the film needed to be a spy movie, since it is such a huge shift. It is the film we are given, so we must work with it accordingly.
The American spy named Rod Redline (Bruce Campbell) gets attacked by some of the lemons in the washroom, while Mater is in the washroom. The spy ends up putting the bug about him being a spy onto the toe truck, so when Holley approaches him, she is not thrilled that Mater is the spy. Why is Holley in the field when she is not a field agent? Was there no one else there? And why did the American spy plant the information. It is good that he is because he ends up being killed and tortured by the lemon crew anyways.
Holley speaks to Mater, and he thinks she is trying to get with him. I don’t really know why the film needed to be a spy movie, since it is such a huge shift. It is the film we are given, so we must work with it accordingly.

It is time for the first race in the Global Grand Prix. Mater is speaking to Lightning via headphones to give him advice, but Holly messages him to leave the area, because the lemons are after him. We learn that the lemons are shooting racers to stop people from using Allinol. Lightning loses the race because Mater speaks through the headphones, and completely forgets that he is a part of a race. He gets out of there, and once he meets up with Lightning again, he is rightfully upset about losing the race, and Mater being an embarrassment, so he does not want his help. Mater takes this as Lightning wanting him to leave, so he heads back to Radiator Springs. The main message of the film involves the moment between the two of them, and they write it as if Lightning was wrong, and that… you know, we will get to it.

This causes Holley and Finn to snatch him up to focus solely on the spy mission, and to be fair, Mater does tell them that he is not an agent. My thing is, WHY does he not question why they brought him into this, and why does he NEVER try to get out of it if he knows he is not a spy? Maybe it is because the lemons were about to kill him, but he knows he is branded with something, and….. you know what? Why am I trying to be logical? Mater just thinks it is cool to be a spy. How convenient. Anyways, the other two spies see all of the information that was given to Mater, and they decide to disguise Mater, since he is full fledged to be a spy. This is also used to tie into the message of the film, which is……

Friendship and Not Changing/Adapting. The friendship part is fine, but let's get down to the nitty gritty. Mater was being an embarrassment, and thought that you could act like you do in Radiator Springs, like you can anywhere else. Lightning tells him this, but it is being interpreted that Lightning is telling him to change his entire character, which is not the case. Does anyone act the way they do in their public sphere that they do in their private sphere? NO. As a person, you still hold the same values
Friendship and Not Changing/Adapting. The friendship part is fine, but let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Mater was being an embarrassment, and thought that you could act like you do in Radiator Springs, like you can anywhere else. Lightning tells him this, but it is being interpreted that Lightning is telling him to change his entire character, which is not the case. Does anyone act the way they do in their public sphere that they do in their private sphere? NO. As a person, you still hold the same values, but you act more reserved and guarded in public places, and more aloof, playful, and brash in places of comfort. Do you all see the issue here? The next step of the Prix is in Italy, and Lightning is clearly in a bad mood. Two of his pit crew members Luigi (Tony Shalhoub) and Guido (Guido Quaroni) are back home, and stay with Luigi’s uncle (Franco Nero) and aunt (Vanessa Redgrave), who Lightning speaks to about his struggle with Mater. They tell him that he should not ask Mater to change, and that he should allow Mater to act like that all the time. Friendship involves compromise, and if Lightning is doing all of the compromise, and Mater is not doing any of it, how is that a good message?

Lightning ends up winning the race in Italy, and Mater is disguised (which he hated, because it covers all of the dents on his body that represents his friendship with Lightning). I get the symbolism, but I am not going to bruise myself and keep them to remember my friendships with anyone. We do see more of a redeemable side of Francesco, who admits to Lightning that he is homesick when his loved ones are not around, but he throws it in his face, since he is back home. Mater is sad that everyone thinks of him as an idiot, though we were meant to think that with his portrayal throughout the entire franchise. Things get blown up when Finn tries to stop the people shooting the racers, since he got caught by a large magnet, and Mater loses his cool when it is announced that it is recommended that no one use Allinol for a fuse. Lightning decides to stick with the fuel because his friend Filmore (Lloyd Sherr) told him it is safe, and to rub the friendship theme in even more. The lemons he is surrounded by are told that they have to kill Lightning, and Mater blows his cover, causing everyone to be after him and Holley.

He tries to warn Lightning about his fate, but the lemons capture the three spies, and trap them in the clock of Big Ben. Mater has some sort of an epiphany about everyone thinking he is an idiot, and is saddened. Mater saves himself, and when he is about to save Holley and Finn, the latter tricks Mater to save Lightning, knowing that there is no fate for him and Holley. Mater leaves, and the two spies save themselves anyways. Mater thinks the bomb is on Lightning, only to realize that it is on him. Mater drives away, trying to warn Lightning about him being the bomb, while Lightning completely misinterprets what he is saying, and tells Mater he is awesome in every single way. Knowing that he is a bomb, he goes to the queen to tell her what happened, and to confront Axleford, to cause him to deactivate the bomb. No one believes him because Axleford created Allinol, so why would he sabotage it. Mater recognizes him from the disguised message, and tells him that he only sabotaged Allinol because people wanted to find an alternative, and he wanted all alternatives to look bad.

All of this crap is making me overtly confused, and I still have an issue with the message. The villains are captured, Mater is given knighthood, he is added in the poster of Radiator Springs with Lightning, and the spies visit Mater to disprove the Radiator Spring residents doubts about the story. Holley announces that she is Mater’s girlfriend, and Finn asks Mater to join another mission, but he declines. Apparently Lightning’s crew switched his Allinol with bio fuel, so he was safe from exploding, Francesco becomes friends with Lightning, and gets to meet Sally, which both are grateful for. The films end with all of the Grand Prix contestants race Radiator Springs for fun, while Mater floes around with his rockets.

So..... if we were to go by the message of the film, Lightning did not need to change. If they cared about him they should have accepted him for who he was, but he had to LEARN something. Mater should have LEARNED something. He only thought he was an idiot because he was TOLD that people thought of him. Outside of that, he NEVER had any insecurity or doubt about who he was. He didn't learn anything to the extent that Lightning did, so not everyone has to accept him to act any way he acts? That is not how the world works. A lot of the spy stuff confused me very much, and I found a lot of it to be a bit convoluted. The plot needed to be simplified a lot, and I did not like the shift between the characters. In the end, nothing was really learned. While I have seen worse films than this, there is not much to take away from this film, which is why many see it as one of Pixar's worst.
So….. if we were to go by the message of the film, Lightning did not need to change in the first film. If they cared about him, they should have accepted him for who he was, but he had to LEARN something. Mater should have LEARNED something. He only thought he was an idiot because he was TOLD that people thought of him. Outside of that, he NEVER had any insecurity or doubt about who he was. He didn’t learn anything to the extent that Lightning did, so now everyone has to accept him to act any way he acts? That is not how the world works.
A lot of the spy stuff confused me very much, and I found a lot of it to be a bit convoluted. The plot needed to be simplified a lot, and I did not like the shift between the characters. In the end, nothing was really learned. While I have seen worse films than this, there is not much to take away from this film, which is why many see it as one of Pixar’s worst.

Characters

Because of the message in the film, the characters did not really develop…. like at all. The new characters are alright, but there is no development, and most of the older characters (even Lightning) was shoved aside, so…….. everyone remained to be a bit flat.

I remember that he was the rbeakout star, and everyone in my class thinking he is funny, while I was not impressed at all. A decade later, and I am still not impressed with his humor, and I tried to ignore him in the film at times.
Now that he is the main character of the film, I cannot ignore him. His comedic-ness is still there in the film, and in order for him to avoid any character development, others have to learn how to deal with him and to accept him for who he is. It is hard for us to have sympathy for him, because he had to be told, instead of coming to a self realization about how he was perceived, and we were supposed to laugh with and at him throughout the entire franchise leading up to this.
Lightning was severely downplayed in this movie, as he was bumped to the deuteragonist, but still overshadowed by the newer characters. He is the one to learn something in the film, though his frustration is completely reasonable and justifiable.
Lightning was severely downplayed in this movie, as he was bumped to the deuteragonist, but still overshadowed by the newer characters. He is the one to learn something in the film, though his frustration is completely reasonable and justifiable.
holley
Holley was forced to be a field agent in the film instead of being in the office, but other than that, we do not learn much about her. She ends up being Mater’s girlfriend in the end, though their relationship did not get much focus, compared to Bonnie and Lightning in the last film.
Finn in action scenes were pretty cool, and I liked his confidence, but there really is not much else to mention about him.
Finn in action scenes were pretty cool, and I liked his confidence, but there really is not much else to mention about him.

All of the other characters have too minor of a role to be included. The franchise always introduces too many characters, but barely has time to develop them.

Animation

The animation is brilliant. We did get to travel to many of the world cities in the film, and everything was so well-realized with the variety of settings. With the spy aspect of the film, there is a lot more action in this film, and a lot more explosions and motion, which was captured extremely well. The cars are still designed well, and the animation is sheer perfection in every aspect. It may be a bit overwhelming for some people, but it was fine with me.

Music

The music is once again composed by Michael Giacchino, and he once again did a spectacular job. It is the first time that Lasseter directed a film without Randy Newman scoring the music (he was busy with The Princess and the Frog and Toy Story 3), so the duo was pretty interesting. While the songs are not very memorable, the score is awesome, and made the film a lot more exciting than it also would not be without it. The score was not as emotional in comparison to the predecessor, as it focuses much more on the action.

Reception at Release

When the film was released on June 24th, 2011, it grossed $191,452,396 domestically, and $370,658,161 in other areas that isn’t North America, with a worldwide gross of $562,110,557. It is the ninth-highest-grossing Pixar film overall out of the ones released, and it grossed more than its predecessor in the Cars franchise.

Critically, it did not do well, and is the only Pixar (up to this point, and to date) that received mixed-negative reception. Many people did not like the idea of a Cars sequel to begin with, but most of the complaints involved Mater being the main character, the premise being ridiculously stupid, the storytelling being more than flawed, so on and so forth. The film still does have its fans, but most audiences and critics alike was not pleased with this film in the slightest.

Because of the critical reaction, the film did very poorly in the awards. It is the only Pixar film to not be nominated for an Oscar whatsoever (the first of three to not be nominated for Best Animated Feature), and did not win the Annie for Best Animated feature. The film only won an ASCAP award for Top Box Office Films. It is not a stretch at all to say that this film was generally seen as Pixar’s first bust.

Reception Today

The reception for this film has not changed at all in the last 5 years. Most people still see it as easily the worst Pixar film, and many refuse to talk about it. Despite this, it made a lot of money, and the financial success of this film lead to the dreaded Planes franchise over at DisneyToons. There is a Cars 3 that is going to be released next year, and it is going to be closer to the integrity of the first film, rather than this one, as was shown in the recent teaser trailer.

Final Score

Story: 5/10

Characters: 5/10

Animation: 8.5/10

Music: 7/10

= 25.5/40 = 64%

Next time…

Review: December 4th, 2016
Review: December 4th, 2016
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14 thoughts on “Pixar Animation Studios review: Cars 2

  1. Ah, yes. The film that everyone says is Pixar’s worst thus far. Do I agree? I’m not so sure. Is it a good movie? No. It’s very flawed. The story really doesn’t make a lick of sense. But at least I can say I wasn’t bored with this movie. Unlike a certain movie that immediately followed this one………

    If you think Lightning McQueen didn’t get a whole lot of focus in this film, judging by the teaser trailer for the next film, as well as the synopsis I’ve read about it, he might get even less focus there. I’m guessing that’s not the case, but we’ll see soon. This summer, no less.

    Great job and see you next time!

    1. We’ll see what happens to Cars 3, but hopefully it will be the last film.

      I definitely agree that this film isn’t boring, and something was always happening, which couldn’t always be said for the first film. When people act like this is a horrible film and one of the worst, I have to laugh because most people have not seen the truly bad films (which I don’t blame them, since…. they’re bad).

  2. Great analysis. I never went that in depth on this one. It’s a movie made for kids and since they cant see most spy movies I cut it some slack I guess. The animation is beautiful and it’s watchable. I think it’s in the C to C- camp for me. I personally like it better than Brave because at least it’s consistent with what it is from start to finish

    1. Thanks. Most people run like the plague from analyzing this film, skin it’s not shocking. Definitely a C level film. I have to say I’m kind of shocked with the amount of people who dislike Brave more than this film. I don’t know of its a recent thing, or has been like this since 2012.

  3. I don’t like this film. I have a lot of problems with it.

    1) Making Mater the main character: This is probably the biggest problem with this
    whole film. In the first film Mater was comic relief, but in this film they made him the main character. The problem with this is that comic relief characters are by and large foils. The main character is supposed to play off of them and it’s very easy to have a comic relief character overstay their welcome. In the first film I was neutral towards Mater; I didn’t dislike him or really like him. In this film however, I absolutely LOATHED him. He’s obnoxious, unfunny and really annoying.

    2) Tone Shift: The first film was a slice of life story about Lightning McQueen learning humbleness. So to see the franchise shift into a different genre was really jarring. The first film had nothing to do with spies. If they really wanted to make a spy film, then why didn’t they just make an original film with new characters?

    3) The film’s environmental message: This film tries to hammer in an environmental message, but it makes no sense whatsoever. Why would they introduce environmental awareness in a world where EVERYONE is a vehicle that runs on gas? The ozone layer would have gone by the start of the first film.

    4) The Plot: The plot is so convoluted and contrived and riddled with holes. I know that spy films are supposed to push the suspension of disbelief, but they go way too far in this film. There are so many plot holes and plot contrivances in this film. When Mater infiltrates the criminals meeting, how come no one is is able to break through his disguise despite him having a completely different accent? Why did the villains plant the bomb on Mater? Wouldn’t it have been easier to leave the bomb at the pit stop? The list of plot holes and plot contrivances in this film are endless.

    5) The ending: The ending however is my biggest problem with the plot. The
    entire plot completely falls apart at that point. Mater singles out Axelrod as the mastermind of the entire scheme because he wanted to make Allinol look bad so everyone can go back to using to using oil. That makes no sense because if he wanted to make Allinol look bad then why didn’t he say that the scientists found a problem with it? Why would Axelrod go through the trouble of developing a perfectly viable alternative fuel, and putting himself on the path towards making billions of dollars, just to throw it all away for some anti-alternative fuels scheme? There’s absolutely no reason for Axelrod to be the mastermind, but because the plot is so contrived and convoluted it turns out Axelrod is the mastermind of the entire scheme.

    Overall, I think this film is a mess. The only things I like about this film is the animation and the music, but they’re not enough to save this film for me.

    1. 1) I entirely agree. Mater was someone you could ignore and tolerate in bits and pieces in the first film, but not with this film. It is even worse that the message of the film is that everyone is supposed to put up with his shenanigans. Nothing learned.

      2) Exactly. I get that they wanted to elaborate on “what material would do”, but why did that have to involve spies? They could have made a Cars sequel, and a separate spy film. It’s even worse because the third film will make the events of this film seem even more pointless and irrelevant.

      3) I am still overly confused with the environmental message in the film, especially because it doesn’t look like there is much plant life (discounting human life completely) in the world.

      4) The plot being confusing and the holes was the worst thing about this film. There should be no reason why I watch a film twice, and still barely capture what the film is about. Sometimes, the simpler, the better.

      5) The ending was extremely weak. It was obvious that it was him, but the motivation was more than weird. The environmental message is weak, the villain is, and the protagonists story is jumbled with no development, and carries a bad message.

      Definitely a miss with this film.

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