Ever since 1995, the film studio PIXAR has been making animated films unrivalled by Dreamworks, Disney or any other animated studio. Its films have consistently garnered critical praise for their humour, quality of animation, but above all else, their stories and characters have always been ones in which both children and adults can relate to. Despite being one of the least critically successful PIXAR films, ‘Cars’ was a massive success in terms of the merchandise it sold. So naturally Disney, in their wisdom, funded a sequel. Unfortunately, ‘Cars 2’ is PIXAR’s weakest offering to date.
Cars 2 sees friends Lightning McQueen (the best race car in the world) and Mater (a mentally challenged tow truck) thrust into a world of English spies and international oil conspiracies. This allows for the Cars world to be built upon and vamped up in far more interesting ways than in the first one. We see James Bond style cars (played by Michael Caine) which include various ‘Q’ esque gadgets, some fantastic looking chase sequences and exciting action scenes. The problem is, none of these seem to belong in a PIXAR film. PIXAR has become iconic for comedies like ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Monster’s Inc’; and for the touching drama in ‘Up’ and ‘Wall-e’, but unfortunately ‘Cars 2’ has characters that become quickly irritating and so therefore the moments which are meant to be dramatic and emotional simply aren’t. Despite flickers of some wonderful humour – “I’m finn McMissile of British intelligence”, “I’m Tow Mater of average intelligence” – the vast majority of the comedy falls flat on its face. I would like to say that my age has had some impact on my opinion on the film, but unfortunately, despite my screening being rammed to the gunnels with families and young children, there was very little laughter and far more fidgeting than what usually accompanies a PIXAR film.
Part of the problem with the film is down to the voice acting. Michael Caine puts in the only decent voice performance of the film and that is mainly because his character requires no comic timing and only an English accent. Owen Wilson’s whine of a voice grinds away at your patience and the stupid Southern American accent of supposedly humorous Mater goes from humorous to irritating in the very early stages of the film. With characters like these, it’s no surprise that it is PIXAR’s weakest film yet.
PIXAR should stick to what they do best, characters. All of the previous PIXAR films (Excluding ‘Cars’) have had characters which are entertaining and relatable, Cars 2 has really dropped the ball. Here’s to hoping that their next film ‘Brave’, which features brand new characters in the Scottish highlands, is a return to form for the studio.