How's the movie?
Cars 2 isn't a bad movie, it's just not a very good Pixar movie. It should go without saying, but what makes Pixar such a great animation studio is their uncanny ability to make kids' movies that transcend age and can be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone from toddlers to the elderly. Cars 2, however, is not transcendental. It is just a movie for children, and the younger they are, the more sophisticated its pee jokes and fart noises and obvious toy line potential will seem.
But if you don't trust me, let's let the numbers tell the story:
Rotten Tomatoes: 38% Rotten with critics, 57% Liked by audiences
Metacritic: 57 out of 100, 6.0 user score
Box Office: $191 million domestic, $360 million foreign
What are the vitals on the disc?
Studio: Disney / Buena Vista
Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Edition: Standard BD/DVD Combo (A Five-Disc 3-D Blu-ray set is also available)
Number of Discs: 2 (1 BD, 1 DVD)
Digital Copy: Not on the two-disc set
Runtime: 106 Minutes
Video: 1080p, 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 ES, Spanish DTS-HD HR 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
How does it look and sound?
Cars 2 looks and sounds great, but that's hardly surprising considering any animated film is going to look top notch in HD. It only ever existing in an entirely digital environment means it's perfect for high end digital presentation. As far as the animation goes, this is indeed the most polished film Pixar has ever created and the Blu nicely showcases the almost overwhelming number of reflections perfectly (seriously, if anything in this movie can conceivably reflect light, it does). Colors all pop in their hyper-real, fantasy world way, but there's also some subtle lighting techniques, particularly when Flint McMissile infiltrates the ship at the beginning of the film, that do show off a softer side of a movie that is otherwise all gloss.
The same goes for the sound design, which is loaded with the zipping bells and rushing whistles you'd expect from a kids movie about race cars and spy planes. It's not a particularly interesting sound design, but it's balanced and doesn't overload you with constant audio distractions.
What about the special features?
Unfortunately, if you want a lot of special features, you're going to have to pony up for the 5 Disc 3D Blu-ray set (nevermind if you don't have a 3D TV), as there are only three features here.
Hawaiian Vacation (6 minutes, HD) - The Toy Story short that played in front of the film theatrically. It's great that it's on here, and Toy Story fans will surely get a kick out of seeing their favorite characters again and knowing that their story will never truly end, but as far as Pixar short films go, it's pretty run of the mill.
Air Mater (6 minutes, HD) - If you (or your children) like Cars 2 and are actively looking forward to its spinoff film, Planes, then Air Mater exists just for you. It's an amusing enough short about Mater learning to fly, but it is a transparent advertisement for the new film, so much so that Mater mentions it directly.
Audio Commentary - Co-directors John Lasseter and Brad Lewis give a consistently informative commentary that's actually more interesting than the film itself. They address all kinds of thing on both the technically and creative ends, revealing a lot about why Cars 2 takes a different track from the studio's other films.
It pains me to think that Pixar has made a film that I have no interest in ever watching again, but sadly that's the case with Cars 2. It's not that it's a painful experience, I'm just not the demographic the experience is designed for. And, unfortunately, because this disc is so lite on special features, there's not a lot here to fulfill Pixar fans who just happen to not be fans of this particular franchise.