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This Pixar monster hit gets an official 3D upgrade, but is this new Blu-ray set worth double-dipping for...?
Buena Vista / 116 Minutes / 2007 / Rated G / Street Date: October 29, 2013
Cars may not be the best film Pixar has ever produced, but it’s hardly a disappointment; even on repeat viewings, I find it immensely enjoyable. This Pixar superhit remains a beautifully rendered visual work of art that overlays an entertaining story of substance that tugs at the emotional heartstrings.
The gimmick of Cars (they’ve all got a gimmick… fish, toys, monsters, superheroes) is, not surprisingly, talking vehicles. No people, no animals, just cars. After about five minutes it starts to make sense and you find yourself intrigued by how well, and often apropos, the translations to cars work out. The story follows the developing racing career of upstart rookie race-car Lightening McQueen. His self-involved, independent, take-care-of-himself-first attitude is challenged when he finds himself trapped in a small town, dwindling into historical oblivion along a stretch of bypassed-route-66. The theme of learning to care about others may seem hackneyed on the surface, but the Pixar writing team’s skill, the film’s sensitive direction, spot-on editing, and the outstanding cast of voice actors work together to give the story dimension and grounding.
For all its story telling, Cars is undeniably a visual feast of stunning animated art - it achieves wonderful levels of image realism and subtle, organic rendering. In addition to the expected expressions of detail like foliage and texture, it’s images in motion and use of lighting that Pixar explores most profoundly in the visual language of this film. These are moving images and subtle lighting effects that we often take for granted in our analog world but remain largely unexpressed in computer animation. The way that corn rows in a field whip by the viewer while traveling down a country road, or the expansive vistas of the Midwestern landscape vanish into a sunset-haze (which reminded me of my Nevada drive to Burning Man in the Blackrock Desert), moving visuals constantly stimulate your visual perception and create the very real sense that the visuals themselves embody their own character in this gorgeous film.