One word – ‘Wow!’ End of review!
But seriously, ‘Cars 2’ races on to UK Region free 2D Blu-ray with a stonking good 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. To be honest, I’d have been totally gobsmacked if it didn’t look great, coming from Pixar. The detail contained in the shots is meticulously displayed, right down to the pattern on the glass of Finn McMissile’s headlamps. The gloss on the paintwork of each car (apart from rusty ole Mater) looks so realistic. The image is wonderfully sharp with truly vibrant colours and a depth that almost wipes out the need for 3D.
There’s no film grain on display here as the movie most likely stayed in the digital realm from production through to Blu-ray. This is demo material and will no doubt be appearing at most good Home Cinema kit dealers throughout the world. There are no negatives at all. Project it on a big screen or play it on a 50 inch plasma panel. It looks superb.
If the picture quality impressed, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio continued in the same vein. You’d think that a sound mix for a movie about cars would be deafening, but here you’d be wrong. It doesn’t attempt to hoof you in the forehead or knee you in the chest. It’s a lot more subtle than that, with many effects discretely placed within the enveloping surround sound field. The sound of the car engines does include roar when needed but at other times there’s a gentle, refined purr (especially from the Aston) that will warm the cockles of any car nut’s heart.
Amid all of the action scenes, the dialogue is clear as a bell throughout. The full effect of the 7.1 channels is felt on many of the race scenes, but when Mater overdoes the Wasabi, the echo of his voice is everywhere as he tells the crowd to watch out for the Pistachio ice cream. It really brought a smile to my face due the impact of the effect.
The spy theme music exudes from the main stereo pair, adding to the pastiche of the genre. There’s subwoofer action to lend oomph to the racing scenes, but it’s tightly controlled and not unpleasant. Excellent stuff. A real sound treat!
The package reviewed was the single disc UK Region free 2D Blu-ray version (not 3D), which proudly offers a DVD of the movie if you go online and redeem the enclosed code on the Disney rewards website.
Director’s Commentary - John Lasseter and Brad Lewis, the co-directors of ‘Cars 2’ share the driving seat in this lively commentary. They talk us through the detailed work that went into many scenes and also about the whole world of ‘Cars’ that they both understand like true geeks as they’ve spent the last few years there. This is great for animation buffs as well as fans of the series.
‘Hawaiian Vacation’ (HD, 6 mins) - It’s all of our chums from the ‘Toy Story’ franchise, who prepare for Bonnie’s vacation. Barbie & Ken (not the brightest of toys) stow away in Bonnie’s School bag in the hope of being taken somewhere warm. It’s up to Woody, Buzz and the gang to break the news that a School bag is the last thing a kid takes on holiday. So they put a lot of imagination and effort into making Bonnie’s bedroom a holiday destination for the blonde duo. There’s a bit of charm at work here.
'Air Mater' (HD, 5 mins) - Our good ole buddy Mater tells one of his Tall Tales here, whereby he learns to fly and becomes a stunt pilot by flying backwards. A strong hint is given about a whole movie about planes. Coming soon to a Cinema near you, as they say.
With a squeal of tyres, the Disney Pixar sequel ‘Cars 2’ arrives on UK Region free 2D Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. As you’d expect, the image is blemish free with strong, saturated colours and contrast to match. Detail is outstanding. It’s demo material, folks.
The audio is no slouch either in its DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround, delivering engine roar and delicate, discrete effects equally well while the all important dialogue is clear as a car horn.
A couple of animated shorts and a director’s commentary are the only bonus features on the disc, but they’re welcome additions that don’t outstay their welcome.
As a movie, ‘Cars 2’ takes us into the world of espionage as Mater meets up with agent Finn McMissile (Sir Michael Caine) while taking part in the World Grand Prix with his buddy Lightning McQueen. All the great voices from the original ‘Cars’ are there except, understandably, for Paul Newman in this imaginatively animated CGI tale of double dealing. Forget what the critics say, take it out for a spin tonight. It’s good quality fun.
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