Cars 2 3D Blu-ray Review

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by Simon Crust Nov 28, 2011 at 4:10 PM

  • Movies review

    3

    Cars 2 3D Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £28.99

    Picture

    The disc presents a widescreen 2.39:1 1080p 3D transfer and is Region free.

    Filmed (or is that animated?) in native 3D, Pixar have produced a picture that is effortlessly 3D, with an immersive aspect that is second to none; not only are they the kings of CG animation, but they have proved they know the third dimension and have set themselves up, once again, as the studio to beat. Every frame is considered within the 3D budget which leads to myriad effects, mostly positive parallax, leading to plenty of depth within the frame, but there is nearly always something in near negative parallax just to hold the front of the frame pushing the depth that further back. Add to this the absolute solidity of all the objects within the layers and the structure of the layers themselves and you have a three dimensional image that is a delight to behold. You can pick pretty much any scene and be wowed by the effects, but for me there were a few stand out moments; driving through the streets of Tokyo with the high rise buildings and neon lights that stretch way up in the sky and sit in front of their buildings respectively, or the street traffic with its front, middle, back nature; the planes of Radiator Springs, with its few scrub grasses holding the foreground while the desert sands stretch far off into the distance, Mater hanging on a rope over the gears of Big Bentley, or best for me, the panoramic flyby of Porto Corsa and the race course, that was not only photorealistic in its looks, but was so astonishingly good with its third dimension you could lose yourself in it forever. Other notable effects are the cars themselves which are solid within the frame, I loved the lighting effects on McMissile's paintwork which really added to his three dimensionality, the overhead shots of the races, where you actually feel you are looking down, or the tarmac shots of the races as the cars drive over you; looking up the spiral driveways, or down various streets, each pushing the frame backwards. And for those that like the in your face effects, look out for gun shots, missiles, fireworks or explosive debris flaying towards you, though never in a gratuitous way and therefore keeping you in the moment. The effects are so good that even when there is no background reference, such as in Mater’s dream, it is still effective to watch. Even the most simplest of scenes are enhances, the fountain of water in Luigi’s home town with its water the pushes out from the centre, Shiftwell’s holographic screen which hovers in front of her, two shots between cars have a tangible distance between them and every establishing shot is an image that despite its stylised look maintains the illusion of reality. In short, incredible.

    And the rest of the image lives up to Pixar’s own high standards. Detail is immense and typically Pixar, the sheen on the cars, the scrub of the desert grass, the rocks and sand that make up the rest, the water, be it sea or fountain, the brickwork, the neon signs, Shiftwell’s computer terminals, clouds, roofing tiles, everything is sharp, accurate and defined from the closest object to the furthest landscape, nothing is without a fine edge.

    Colours too are bright, bold and vivid with all the primaries coming off with aplomb. The greens of the vegetation are lush, the blues of the sea and the sky are beautiful and the reds of the various explosions of Lightning himself are deep and meaningful. There is no hint of bleed or wash and they grade with precision. It is a slightly warmer pallet compared to the original film, which, while stunning, could look a little sterile, and this has been improved for the sequel giving it a far more natural look.

    Brightness and contrast are set to give wonderful blacks (with the usual 3D caveat) really adding to the depth of the picture and bringing out the best of the picture, check out Mater’s dream for some impenetrable blacks, or in the innards of Big Bentley or the oil rig attack for some decent shadow detail.

    Digitally there were no compression problems, edge enhancement, posterization or banding issues. Using passive technology I experienced no crosstalk but there were a few instances of aliasing (on some car grills for example) and a little detail loss in some of the flames on the oil rigs (they looked a bit blocky) but other than that there is nothing to report. In all this is the 3D picture to beat – simply stunning.


    Cars 2 3D Picture

    Sound

    I concentrate on the English dts-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. Well, if you were impressed by the visuals, prepare to be dazzled by the sound track which is every bit as immersive. Right from the off you know this is going to be an impressive sound track; the camera pans along the open sea and the wind and waves lash the speakers putting you in the centre of the storm – once we reach the rig itself, and the action ensues all the speakers come alive with stereo effects front to back and left to right as McMissile fends off his attackers. There is a finesse to the top end which holds your attention while the bottom end shakes the room – this is not all bass and shout this is a complex mix that caters for the subtly inherent to the sound. Effects come thick and fast, but it engines revving, tyres squealing, gun fire rattling and debris flying all around. Then, suddenly, we’re in the quiet outback of Radiator Springs, but the sound is right there, the bombast might be gone but the effects, from insects to light wind to the road noise as Mater winches the breakdown have the same authority as that of the action scene. Things only get better once we get further into the film; Tokyo is awash with ambience, the racetrack is like being at an actual race as the various cars rocket by, Francesco Bernoulli’s formula 1 race engine screams by while Lightning's engine thunders along – sometimes in front, sometimes behind, sometimes to the side, but always right there.

    Dialogue is always clear, precise, given directionality when needed and never in any danger of being drowned out by the action on screen. Bass grounds everything in reality and the low end is foundation shaking, form the various explosions to fireworks which in addition to thumping your chest sound as if they are way up high. Surround speakers are constantly alive with effects from simple ambience to full on action. And underpinning everything is Michael Giacchino’s score which utilises all the speakers placing you well and truly in the centre of the room. Another top notch effort from Pixar, excellent.


    Cars 2 3D Sound

    Extras

    3D Disc

    • Air Mater (05.22, HD, 3D) – Short story whereby Mater becomes part of a flying display team; plays out as if it’s all in his head as he regales Lightning with this tall tale, but is it? Also serves as a teaser for the next spinoff film. The picture is not as detailed or as absorbing as that in the main feature, but the 3D is extremely well accomplished.

    2D Blu-ray Disc

    • 2D version
    • Air Mater (05.22, HD) – same short as on the 3D disc, this time in 2D.
    • Hawaiian Vacation (05.50, HD) – A short featuring the latest Toy Story (3) regulars, Ken and Barbie want to go on holiday with Bonnie, but foolishly hide in her school bag – the rest of the gang feel sorry for them and dress up the room to give them the getaway they need to seal their romance. Pretty good gags running through out, looks great and sounds even better.
    • Audio Commentary – With director John Lasseter and co-director Brad Lewis. Lasseter takes the lead in explaining pretty much everything you need to know about the making of the film, from the various dropped ideas, to its inspiration, the characters, sets, the various trips the production crew took for design inspiration, plus cast recording, story threads, ideas, design, look both technical and anecdotal; some of which is repeated in the features on the second disc, but for a one stop full on making talk, this is your place to go.
    • Sneak Peaks – Trailers for up and coming films and Blu-ray releases.

    Bonus Extras disc

    The main features are presented on a World Map; select the city and click to view the extras hidden within which can be watched individually or with a play all function – shame there’s no overall play all function, though.

    The Pacific

    • Somewhere in the Pacific (03.34, HD) – Interview with the makers about how they wanted the beginning of the film to be very different and opted for the espionage opening to put the audience off guard.
    • Making Lemon-aides (04.02, HD) – Short discussion of the ‘Russian’ type cars that make up the baddies of the film, their inspiration and explanation to the younger audience who likely would never have heard the term.
    • Oil Derrick Set Explosion (00.21) – Closer look at the oil rig set.
    • Art Slideshow – A look at the various production and design drawing for this section of the film – from it you can navigate to any of the production are found on this disc.

    Emeryville, USA

    • Motorama (07.38, HD) – A look at the get together of the older cars that the production crew organise once a year due to their innate love of the motor vehicle.
    • He lives! Making the Finn McMissile Toy (03.47, HD) – A look at how the character was designed with the toy in mind – is it me or does this smack to utter commercial sell out, toy manufacturers designing the character in the film ... surely that’s backwards? Really don’t like this.
    • Animation Pit Stop (04.16, HD) – The various characters from the film zoom about the screen.
    • US Domestic Teaser (01.30, HD)
    • US Domestic Trailer (02.30, HD)

    Radiator Springs

    • Tall Tale Deleted Scene (03.34, HD) – Mater’s retelling of one of Lightning’s winning Piston Cup runs, was going to be an opening of the film but was ultimately dropped; uses storyboard pictures animated with sound.
    • The Origin of Cars 2 (06.03, HD) – Starting off with a look at Route 66, the road and the various diners along it, all of whom experience a Cars renaissance, this short then looks at the ideas behind the inception of the film.
    • Radiator Springs Set Exploration (00.29, HD) – Closer look at the Radiator Springs set.
    • Art Slideshow – A look at the various production and design drawing for this section of the film – from it you can navigate to any of the production are found on this disc.

    London, England

    • Brawl at Big Bentley (05.28, HD) – A look at the design of the London set concentrating of the crew’s UK trip to draw inspiration for the film and how the various landmarks were ‘car-ified’.
    • Spyfield (06.27, HD) – Here we look at the various spy related paraphernalia and characters as seen in the film.
    • Spy Training: London (00.46, HD) – First in a series of (very) shorts that show Finn and Holly training Mater in a simulator with typically disastrous results.
    • Big Bentley Set Exploration (00.10, HD) – A closer look at the Big Bentley set.
    • Tower Bridge Set Exploration (00.08, HD) – A closer look at the Tower Bridge set, 8 seconds?

    Paris, France

    • Paris Race, Deleted Scene (05.29, HD) – A look at one of the races ultimately rejected for the finished film; uses storyboard pictures animated with sound.
    • Streets of Paris (04.32, HD) – A look at the design of the Paris set concentrating of the crew’s French trip to draw inspiration for the film and how the various landmarks were ‘car-ified’. Lasseter’s favourite spot is again mentioned; watch it you’ll know what I mean.
    • Spy Training: Paris (00.42, HD) – Second in the series of (very) shorts that show Finn and Holly training Mater in a simulator with typically disastrous results.
    • Arc De Triomphe Set Exploration (00.15, HD) – Closer look at this set.
    • Eiffel Tower Set Exploration (00.10, HD) – Closer look at this set.
    • Paris Market Set Exploration (00.17, HD) – Closer look at this set.
    • Art Slideshow – A look at the various production and design drawing for this section of the film – from it you can navigate to any of the production are found on this disc.

    Munich, Germany

    • Germany Deleted Scene (02.36, HD) – Short race scene, ultimately removed; uses storyboard pictures animated with sound.
    • Oktoberfest Deleted Scene (04.23, HD) – Short scene involving Mater in what was going to be his introduction to the spy world; uses storyboard pictures animated with sound.
    • Mater-Hosen (00.09, HD) – Seriously, nine seconds?
    • German Trailer (01.58, HD)
    • Art Slideshow – A look at the various production and design drawing for this section of the film – from it you can navigate to any of the production are found on this disc.

    Prague, Czech Republic

    • Prague Chase Alternate Opening (02.57, HD) – Deleted scene that was going to originally open the film, a ‘typical’ spy car chase through the streets of Prague; uses storyboard pictures animated with sound.
    • Art Slideshow – A look at the various production and design drawing for this section of the film – from it you can navigate to any of the production are found on this disc.

    Porto Corsa, Italy

    • Finding Porto Corsa (07.31, HD) – A look at the only invented set in the film, its influences, design and construction, encompasses more of the animators European visit to gain their artistic inspiration.
    • The Heart of Italy – 04.15, HD) – A look at Luigi and Guido’s home village, its design and look as well as the characters that inhabit it.
    • International Insurance (00.15, HD) – A very short short.
    • Uncle Topolino’s Square Set Exploration (00.15, HD) – A closer look at this set.
    • Porta Corsa Set Exploration (00.18, HD) – A closer look at this set.
    • Art Slideshow – A look at the various production and design drawing for this section of the film – from it you can navigate to any of the production are found on this disc.

    Tokyo, Japan

    • Tokyo Race, Lap one Extended Scene (03.25, HD) – An extended scene of the first race can be played with or without filmmakers commentary, very little difference compared to the actual scene.
    • Mater Makes Tokyo (04.55, HD) – A look at Tokyo through the eyes of the animators, its design and inspiration.
    • Many Nations, One Race (07.05, HD) – A look at the different cars that enter the World Grand Prix and the different track designs created to level the playing field.
    • Spy Training: Japan (00.41, HD) – Last in the series of (very) shorts that show Finn and Holly training Mater in a simulator with typically disastrous results.
    • Japanese Trailer (02.05, HD)
    • Museum Set Exploration (00.11, HD) – A closer look at this set.
    • Art Slideshow – A look at the various production and design drawing for this section of the film – from it you can navigate to any of the production are found on this disc.
    • Sneak Peak: Nuts and Bolts of Car Land (06.45, HD) – A look at the construction, design and attractions that are in the latest ‘land’ in the Disneyland resort in Florida.
    • Digital Copy

    Cars 2 3D Extras

    Verdict

    Cars 2 is Pixar’s latest CG adventure and despite being a critical failure remains a commercial success, proving that Pixar still have the golden touch with to regard their movies. The film itself plays more like one of Mater’s ‘tall tales’; it puts the character up front as he becomes embroiled in an espionage threat to discredit a new alternative fuel to the back drop of a World Grand Prix that spans the globe bringing competitors for the four quarters to compete to establish who is the overall best racer. Whilst it contains many of the core values that make up a Pixar movie, namely friendship, forgiveness, being true to oneself etc. these play very much second fiddle to the main story thrust of a ‘fish out of water’ slapstick comedy that is Mater’s predicament. And in side-lining the emotional core, and, indeed, never giving it a fully rounded emotional pay off, the film fails to really engage and thus becomes rather mediocre. Comparing this to any of Pixar’s previous efforts it clearly falls short even if it was made with good intentions and Pixar’s own trademark enthusiasm and wit. Let’s hope this is a single bump in the road.

    The same cannot be said for the 3D Blu-ray package which boasts a stunning 3D picture, probably the best I’ve yet witnessed, which is fully immersive and absorbing, couple that with a terrific 7.1 surround track that adds immeasurably to the visuals and you have an awesome AV set. Unfortunately the extras package, whilst it looks impressive, contains little indepth information, save the commentary, and is spread out into bitty features, plus the menu is somewhat clunky, which does let the side down a bit, but it does come with a 2D version and digital copy making this a definite future proof buy.


    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £28.99

    The Rundown

    Movie

    6

    Picture Quality

    10

    Sound Quality

    10

    Extras

    7

    Overall

    8

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

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