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3D Blu-ray Review Cars 2: THE HTF 3D ADDICT REVIEW

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    What can I say?  I love 3D!  From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content.  I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite.  That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT.  I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky.  However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation.  These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves.  I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum.  My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released.   As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.





    61i0ftgXnoL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    CARS 2


    Studio: Walt Disney

    Product Release: November 1, 2011

    Ratio: 2.39:1

    Audio: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital EX

    Running Time: 106 Minutes

    Rating: G



    3dsmall.jpg

    ON A SCALE 0-5

    Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 2

    3D Separation: 3

    3D In Yo' Face Factor: 0



    The idea of Pixar making an animated film that humanizes automobiles may

    have first seemed an odd choice when the original Cars film premiered in 2006,

    but audiences seemed to have immediately fallen in love with its family-friendly

    testimonial to heartland America, Nascar and the towns and tourist attractions

    that used to line Route 66.  


    Unfortunately, Cars 2 retains none of the charm of its predecessor.  In fact, 

    it's an utter, complete mess of a film that somehow gets turned into a loud,

    complex shoot-em-up spy thriller that completely ignores all the elements of

    what makes a great Pixar movie including intriguing story, character development

    and relationships that invoke some sort of emotional investment by its audience.


    cars21.jpg


    This time around, the film centers upon two sub stories.  The first involves 

    Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) who agrees to participate in the championship

    World Grand Prix race against a Italian Formula One Francesco Bernoulli 

    (John Torturro),  The second involves the good-hearted Tow Mater (Larry the 

    Cable Guy) getting cluelessly involved in a spy ring headed up by British agent

    Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and love interest Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer)

    who face off against the villainous monocle-wearing weapons designer Professor

    Zündapp (Thomas Kretschmann).  


    cars22.jpg


    One would think that filling the screen with colorful racing cars and fast-edited

    action scenes would hold the interest of Pixar's target audience.  However,

    somehow the story gets totally bogged down with over-the-top violence and jokes

    that mostly aim more towards adult audiences than kids (though there is the inclusion

    of un-warranted toilet humor).  In essence, Pixar has taken the focus away from its

    lovable characters and put it towards a complex plot that adds to much weight

    to the film's overall enjoyment.


    Disney has always been noted for its first-rate transfers and this one is no 

    exception.  The pristine transfer allows for the film's beautifully animated cars

    to show off their shiny clear-coats. The pure digital transfer shows an unparalleled

    level of sharpness that brings out deep rich rich textures within the animation.

    Colors are stunning here, particularly in the Tokyo race sequences where brilliant

    neons dazzle the eyes.  There are absolutely no flaws to be found here.


    cars23.jpg


    My biggest complaint outside of the film's plot, is its 3D presentation.  Like

    the story, it seems to be mostly ineffective and all over the map offering 

    varying degrees of depth from scene to scene.  While the process does manage

    to add realism and make the film somewhat more immersive, one could easily

    argue that the 3D adds no real value to this film at all.  Most of the scenes seem

    quite flat, offering a minimal amount of depth.  The level of depth seems to open

    up in town shots of Radiator Springs, Paris, and along the winding roads of the

    Italian countryside.  In fact, it isn't until 3/4 of the way through the film during 

    a scene inside the London clock tower that one gets the sense that the filmmakers

    were making good use of the format with their placement of various objects.  This

    leads to one of the biggest arguments I have been making against 3D as of late....

    why don't filmmakers make better use of the format?    Theaters and Home

    Entertainment companies are charging a premium to watch a film like Cars 2

    where there is absolutely no payoff for the audience.  With all the props at

    the filmmakers disposal, why couldn't some WOW factor be interjected into

    the film?  How much more enjoyable would a film like this have been if objects

    flew out towards the audience.  Isn't this what makes 3D what it is?   Instead, 

    Cars 2 keeps all its action within the confines of the screen.  There is nothing

    of WOW value here except perhaps a few fenders attempting to poke out

    beyond its boundaries.  As I sat and watched, I couldn't help but be aggravated

    over the fact that people paid good money to see a film like this in 3D and

    probably walked away extremely dissatisfied.


    cars25.jpg


    The film has a rather punchy 7.1 DTS-HD track, downconverted to 

    5.1 on my system.  Viewers will find themselves immersed in 360-degree

    audio that places them in the middle of the action.  A great example

    of this is the race sequences where revving engines dash across 

    the channels with a gratifying amount underlying bass while the surrounds

    come alive with the sounds of roaring crowds.   Dialogue remains stiffly

    in the center channel as the surrounds give a wealth of support for

    the film's effect noises which are well placed throughout with a nice

    sense of directionality.  Michael Giacchino, who has written scores

    for films like Star Trek (2009), Ratatouille, Up and Super 8 provides

    a soundtrack that is not only mostly forgettable, but easily gets lost

    amidst all the noise of the film.


    Cars 2 arrives as a 5-disc combo set comprised of 3D Blu-ray, 

    2D Blu-ray, Blu-Ray Bonus, DVD and DIgital Copy packaged in

    lenticular packaging.


    The 3D disc includes the short Air Mater in 3D, which is a

    sort of light-natured story about Tow Mater becoming part of 

    the Falcon Hawk squad while giving us an introduction to the

    upcoming Planes series.  The 3D is adequate here, giving us

    nice depth, but nothing eye-popping.


    The 2D Blu-ray and DVD disc also offers Air Mater as well 

    as the theatrical short, Hawaiian Vacation.  A Director's commentary

    is offered along with the film feature.  The Blu-ray bonus disc

    offers interactive access to deleted scenes, documentaries,

    animation and more from different locations in the movie. 



    CONCLUSION


    cars24.jpg


    Cars 2 completely runs out of gas, failing to connect to its audience

    on any level.  Furthermore, it's one of those films that could have

    possibly been saved by being a satisfying 3D experience, but alas,

    even fails at that.  


    Only true fans of the series will appreciate the film.  I would expect

    kids will quickly become bored by the film's complex storyline.  This

    film certainly should not be considered for a blind purchase based on

    expectations from the original film.   Though at the time of this review,

    there was only a $7 difference in price between the 2D and 3D offerings,

    I am uncertain whether the extra expense offers a better viewing experience.



    Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc. 


    Equipment


    LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display

    Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player

    Denon 3311CI Receiver

    Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers

    SV Sound Subwoofer

     
  2. Adam Gregorich

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    Thanks for the review Ron.



    One important note, the 5 disc 3D version, gives you not only the film on 3D but an additional Blu-ray disc full of 2D bonus features that isn't included in the 2D Blu-ray set. I think that disc is worth the $7 even if you aren't interested in the 3D disc. I am assuming there will probably be a coupon as well, cutting that down to probably a $2 difference.


    I disagree with your overall thoughts on the film. Maybe because I was watching it with my kids I had a different overall reaction? It is different from the first film, the opening scene makes it clear that this its going to be.

    The violence didn't really bother me. There is a lot of missile, rocket and machine gun fire, some menacing welding torches, a car that breaks apart when falling from an oil derrick into the ocean. There is a scene where the American CIA agent is being destroyed via a EMP blast where you see the lead up, the beam being fired, the initial struggle, but the camera cuts away to a monitor, where you can just barely see the fireball in the reflection. This prompted an "Is he dead?" question from my daughter.


    To me this was a story about being true to yourself and your friends. Most of the humor was derived from Mater being a fish out of water as he was taken out of his comfort zone in Radiator Springs. While my soon-to-be six year olds didn't get all the plot points they got enough to easily follow along (bad guys trying to do bad guy things and good guys trying to stop them). More importantly the message of appreciating people for who they are came through. They appreciated the toilet humor not only because it was literal toilet humor, but because it was also fish out of water bathroom humor. Note to parents who haven't seen it: the scene I am thinking of (and I believe Ron is referring to) is Mater needing to use the restroom and finding himself in a stall with a high tech bidet, with no controls in English.


    We saw this in 3D on a recent Disney cruise. I can't remember anything specific about the 3D, so I guess that means it didn't bother me or stand out in any way. I'll have to check it on on 3D Blu-ray and see if I feel any differently.
     
  3. TravisR

    TravisR Well-Known Member

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    I don't have/want kids and I enjoyed it well enough (and I'm sure kids love an action-y movie with talking cars as the stars). It's nothing amazing but I'm surprised at the beating that it took from critics. And making a sequel that is very different from the first one was a great idea.
     
  4. Jeff F.

    Jeff F. Well-Known Member

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    My six year old son loved this film. Definite purchase.
     
  5. Jeff Cooper

    Jeff Cooper Well-Known Member

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    I think that you may be confusing actual designed for and shot in 3D movies, versus 2D movies that were never intended to be or filmed in 3D, and simply converted as an attempt to cash grab in on the supposed '3D craze'.
     
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Jeff,


    I try and be careful to research exactly which films were

    intended for 3D and which were simpy upconverted for cash grab.


    Cars 2 was definately shot with 3D in mind according to the

    films director, John Lasseter.
     
  7. Adam Gregorich

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    I think in general film makers are being too conservative with 3D, especially with films that are shot in 3D. I think that they are so afraid of being too gimicky, that they have swung 180 degrees to using no gimicks which are part of the fun of 3D.
     
  8. Andrew Pierce

    Andrew Pierce Well-Known Member

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    I saw both Up and TS3 in theaters in 3D -- I got the impression that Pixar was using the 3D as a way of adding presence and physicality to the scene rather than doing gimmicky stunts where they throw things at the camera every 2 minutes. Sounds like that's what they're doing here too. One man's lack of wow factor is another man's mature sense of restraint. Of course, I didn't feel the 3D really added anything to either of those movies, but I think that's true of all 3D movies with the possible exception of Avatar. Also, I should add the incredible storytelling is the most amazing gimmick in the Pixar playbook, and Cars 2 may have accidentally left that one out too.
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Andrew,


    You make good points about restrained and frequent

    use of 3D in films.


    I would make the argument that it depends on the type

    of film you are talking about.

    I think Cars 2 fits my argument rather well.


    My boss has kids and he tells me that whenever there

    is a choice between 2D and 3D, they want to see the

    3D version. Of course, that means the parents are paying

    a premium on the tickets.


    What is that premium offering kids who go to see Cars 2?


    Nobody wants things thrown at them every 2 seconds --

    and I realize that's an exagerration -- however, one would

    think that at least the filmmakers would use the tools at

    their disposal to do some really neat gimmickry that adds

    to the story rather than detracts from it.


    Everybody is jumping onboard to make 3D movies, but

    hardly anyone is really doing anything cool with it. In fact,

    after all the 3D films I have watched over the past year, I am

    starting to get bored with it only because without it being

    properly exploited, it's offering only minimal enhancement

    over the 2D version.


    Funny, I have seen some really bad films actually made

    better with 3D (take Yogi Bear for instance). Reason being,

    the filmmakers were able to intertwine some cool 3D gimmickry

    into the story -- and it is those gimmicks you remember when

    you leave the theater.

    As for Cars 2, that's a film I might have appreciated more

    if the filmmakers would have made it a little more fun by

    integrating some cool effect work into the story.

    This is one of those issues that not everyone is going to

    agree on. I have already stated that I have rather aggressive

    tastes when it comes to 3D. Others will simply enjoy the

    level of depth it provides.
     
  10. Brisby

    Brisby Well-Known Member

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    The first Pixar movie I've legitimately disliked. The original film was my previous pick for the weakest Pixar movie, but at least that film had some nice morals about slowing down and enjoying life, all of which are rudely shoved aside for frenetic, disturbingly violent action sequences and non-stop Mater schtick. Seriously, this was direct-to-video cheapquel stuff done with an "A" budget, and coming from Pixar, that's like a slap in the face.
     
  11. AaronMK

    AaronMK Well-Known Member

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    When 5.1 came out, there were a lot of "gimmick" tracks before sound designers calmed down and practiced "restraint." Does that mean 5.1 now only offers minimal enhancement over matrix-encoded surround? I'd say there are a lot of 5.1 tracks don't call attention to themselves, yet are highly aggressive, immersive, and fully exploit the advantages over matrix-encoded surround. I'm not a fan of "gimmick" 3D on any level, but even I found the 3D in Cars 2 lacking. With Up and Toy Story 3, I really appreciated how, as Andrew described, it added a great sense of presence and physicality to the scenes. Cars 2 seemed to lack the sense of depth and space that 3D can add to the illusion.
     
  12. Ted Van Duyn

    Ted Van Duyn Well-Known Member

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    The way I see it, Cars 2 feels like nothing but a cash in. Look at all the titles they've made and all the potentials that either a sequel or prequel would have made. Cars was a movie that was not only the film that got the lowest ratings of any Pixar movie, but it had one thing that the other movies did not. A huge successful merchandise run. If you've been to any toy store, wall mart, or any place that sells Hot Wheels, you will know that from 2006 to today, Cars merchandise was always on the shelves. It outlasted the merchandise runs of The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and will most likely outlast Toy Story 3. And what better way to cash in on the potential merchandise than making the toys more merchandisable? Let's look at what Cars 2 did for itself. Set the movie in international areas = More variety of cars it can produce Have it be an action film = Toys come equipped with guns and rocket launchers Go look at the Cars merchandise and see for yourself. You've got cars with pop out guns, and other cars so international that there's a three-wheeled Reliant Robin. But the last, probably most insulting part about all of this is the moral of the story. Mater, who has been screwing things up throughout the entire movie, finally comes to an understanding that maybe he was being a jerk to Lightning and everyone else with his antics. Just when you think his character is actually going to develop and actually become likable, Lightning just flat out tells him to stay the way he is. o_o And if nobody likes it, that's their problem. O_O -_- If you're movie just flat out presses the "Cancel Character Development" button, than your movie is nothing.
     
  13. Adam Gregorich

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    I happened to have a $55k Sim2 3D projector on hand for a little while this morning, unfortunately its leaving as quickly as it came. We used Cars 2 3D as a demo, and watched about 25 minutes of it. I didn't see any WOW 3D use, but the depth of field in 3D was incredible.
     
  14. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Well-Known Member

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    I'm with Adam on this one. . .Toy Story 2 it wasn't, but it was a good solid action comedy that worked as an homage to Hitchcock and James Bond films. IMO the torture-murder scene (which dragged out the torture part more than Adam implied) was a bit much, though. That by itself warranted a PG rating.
    That was also intended to reinforce the idea of Mater being unsophisticated -- in Japan, almost all toilets are like that. :) I don't like the fact that you have to get the 5-disc set in order to get the extras (even if it is only a few bucks more). I never had and likely will never have any interest in the 3D disc or digital copy.
     
  15. AaronMK

    AaronMK Well-Known Member

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    After seeing that scene, I was so glad I did not encounter any toilets there that spoke. Who knows what they could have been saying about how you were using (or misusing) all of the functions for everyone to hear? :(
     
  16. DavidEC

    DavidEC Well-Known Member

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    Cars 2 3D Playback Error I have titled this new Disney/Pixar issue "time warp". As the disc will play forward and then at random points jump back to a point that it had already played and then play forward by passing the point it had jumped backwards from, playing along forwards for a few minutes, then jumping backwards to a random pre-played point in the movie and then play forward again.... This is not a normal "SKIP" or "LAYER CHANGE" as they only effect forward playback, and are repeatable at the same time point / chapter on the disc... this error does not happen at the same point twice, after trying to play the disc over four days. I gave up trying to watch after 15/20 minutes so don't know if at some point later the disc would play correctly. Is anybody else in this forum having these troubles??:huh:?? I have a Samsung BD-D5500 with the latest firmware and have read that this model, along with other, Samsung players are having the same issue with this 3D disc in other forums (not to have my posting mixed up with others) but also have read a at least one software/computer player and one Panasonic machine have reported like playback errors. David
     
  17. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    I reviewed the 3D disc on a Panasonic 310 player and experienced no problems at all. I also have a Samsung 6900 3D player, but have not tried it in that one. Maybe next week if I find myself with some time on my hands, I'll pop this back in and watch on the Samsung. I want to rewatch it anyway.
     
  18. Jonathan Perregaux

    Jonathan Perregaux Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure how this movie got off the pitch board. The main characters were quite unlikable, nothing made sense (why would cars have a sushi bar?), and it was all action and all of it boring. When I saw the preview for "PLANES" I threw my hands up. As for the 3-D, several times while watching this "thing" I had to check my glasses because it felt like they weren't working. Oh, but they were. Barely.
     
  19. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I'm rarely wrong with my assessments of the 3D :)


    It was pretty non-existent.
     
  20. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Well-Known Member

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    Why *wouldn't* cars have a sushi bar? :)
     

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