Studio: Disney / Pixar
Film Length: 116 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.39:1)
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Back in my college days, I had a roommate who just loved NASCAR. Every Sunday was NASCAR Sunday. By proxy, I became a reluctant NASCAR follower. He, however, just couldn’t get enough. While I can’t claim to be a big fan of NASCAR myself, I can definitely appreciate the skill and dedication of the drivers - - and the pure devotion of the fans. Regardless of all that, NASCAR just doesn't hold my attention. It feels a bit like an alien sport to me. So, when I heard that Pixar was making an animated NASCAR movie, I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t think it was a story that would appeal to me in the least. Man, was I wrong.
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is the hottest car in racing. He might just be the first rookie to win the coveted Piston Cup. Lightning, however, has a problem or two: He’s arrogant, selfish and a complete loner. Heck, this car even brags about how many crew chiefs he’s fired! One night while on his way to the championship race, he finds himself alone on Route 66 and in the hands of the law in the desolate and forgotten town of Radiator Springs. Lightning is going to find more than just a crazy bunch of outcasts in Radiator Springs; he'll discover that there’s more to life than simply winning races.
Cars is yet another wonderful film from Pixar. These extremely talented filmmakers continue to produce some of the finest stories being released out of Hollywood today. One of the things that I love about Pixar is their dedication to story. Sure, they also happen to produce the most stunning CGI animation in the industry, but it’s their focus on story that makes them great. Like the Pixar films that came before it, Cars takes a relatively simple premise and elevates it to something that is heartwarming and insightful. Cars really isn’t even about auto racing. It’s more of a commentary on friendship, sportsmanship and even the sad decline of small town America. Cars overflows with warmth and compassion. It’s a great film for children as well as adults. I can’t recommend Cars enough.
I’m sure this won’t surprise anyone, but Cars is stunning on DVD. Minted from a pure digital master, this transfer is flawless. Colors are vibrant, black levels are spot-on and detail is exceptional. There is not a trace of noise, artifacting or edge enhancement. With all of these HD releases now occupying so much interest, it’s great to see that DVD can still amaze with such stunning picture quality. Take for instance the scene where Lightning and Sally Carrera take a drive across the desert plains and up into the hills. There is just a wealth of beautifully rendered detail in these shots as the two cars race through tunnels, puddles and around amazing vistas. Cars exemplifies the best of what DVD has to offer. This is a must own title and absolute reference material.
NOTE: This DVD automatically defaults to Dolby Digital 2.0. If you have 5.1 capabilites, please select 5.1 in the sound menu before starting the feature.
Cars is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 soundtracks. Again, this is spectacular stuff. The sound is completely enveloping. Surround channels are extremely active, especially in the various racing scenes. Dialogue is always completely clear and intelligible. This is one of the finest Dolby Digital presentations I’ve ever heard. Cars is great reference material for showing off your surround sound system. It’s a thrilling experience.
While Cars might be reference material in every other respect, the supplements are somewhat lacking. Perhaps Pixar’s reputation for releasing loaded special editions in the past makes this one a bit disappointing. Here’s what’s included:
•All-New Exclusive Animated Short: "Mater And The Ghostlight"
This is a cute piece of fluff. Nothing too exciting here.
•Academy Award® Nominated Animated Short: "One Man Band"
This was the opening short from the theatrical run of Cars. It isn’t my favorite Pixar short, but it is entertaining and a worthy addition to this DVD set.
•John Lasseter's Inspiration For CARS
I really enjoyed this feature. Essentially, John Lasseter (Director) narrates and shares home movie footage of a trip that the Pixar team took along Route 66 to help prepare for the production of Cars. It’s insightful and moving to see Lasseter’s love of storytelling and his enthusiasm for this film.
Again… there’s nothing really important to the film included here. A few funny moments are present, but it’s obvious why these scenes were left on the cutting-room floor. Four deleted scenes are included.
The Final Analysis:
Despite a weak set of extras, Cars is a fantastic film and addition to the Pixar stable of classics. Video and Audio are reference quality and the story is truly inspired. I recommend Cars as a must-own addition to your DVD library.
Release Date: November 7, 2006