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.
Studio: Walt Disney
Product Release: November 1, 2011
Audio: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital EX
Running Time: 106 Minutes
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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