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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animated Feature > Computer Animation > Comedy > Racing > Cars (Blu-ray/Disney - Pixar)

Cars (Blu-ray/Disney - Pixar)


Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: A-     Feature: B+



So far, the CG/computer animated features have constantly received major attention and as more have been made, the quality has varied wildly from production company to production company, but Pixar has always been the company to beat.  Every feature made has been a breakthrough on some level, first noticed in the Toy Story franchise.  Cars (2006) turned out to be such a spectacular work that it has become the Toy Story of its time and now on Blu-ray, the best example of computer animation on the market.


We had already raved about its standard DVD-Video release, which you can access at this link:





That is from our Disney expert and mega fan, yet in this case, I actually like it more than he does.  The detail in the animation is stunning like nothing ever seen before, the use of color so superior and engaging that it is the most underrated innovation here, the storyline about hot shot car Lighting McQueen (Owen Wilson delivering a remarkable voice performance) a hoot, the character development exceptional, the comedy so top rate and seamless that it is easy to miss how clever it is, the voice cast delivering exceptional chemistry and the love of the title vehicles apparent scene after scene.


McQueen (the Steve McQueen/Bullitt/Le Mans reference is great, especially since this is a feature that lives up to the late actor’s legend) is the star race car who keeps winning the money, glory and fame from the success of his first place finishes, but when he is left behind in a small town of other cards left behind (and a town that loves being the cars they are) when he accidentally rolls out of the luxury transport truck that is taking him to his next stop, he has to face his character flaws and that maybe the good life has been cutting into who he really is.


He gets into trouble with the town mayor (voiced grandly by Paul Newman) and meets a line of other cars who allow him to learn lessons of humility and life.  Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Jenifer Lewis, Paul Dooley, George Carlin, Katherine Helmond, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton, Richard Petty, Jeremy Piven, Richard Kind, Edie McClurg, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Schumacher, Mario Andretti and comedian Larry The Cable Guy lead one of the most impressive voice casts in any animated feature in years and John Lassiter (with co-director Joe Ranft) are so ahead of everyone else in feature animation that only that circumstance allows such a work of art to be produced.


Because we are being so spoiled with CG features, it is easy for many to take for granted just how significant the best releases (often, especially Pixar) have been, in part because everyone is enjoying them so much.  When we look back ten to twenty years from now, Cars is going to endure in profound ways and when the rest of the audience has caught up with how amazing this really is, who knows where Disney/Pixar will be by then.  No matter how the technology may age, the heart and soul is so strong here, that will always be secondary.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is stunning throughout, a demo quality Blu-ray that rivals and then surpasses the previous CG champs in any HD format, Chicken Little and Meet The Robinsons which all happen to be Blu-ray exclusive.  It is still apparent that it is a digital production, but the colors are so wide ranging and motion of the images so smooth, you are taken into a new world of CG that is so rich, it is palpable.  That this is such an entertaining work only adds to that.


Another thing that has happened (especially when seen on Blu-ray) is that these three features have begun a new cycle of releases that bring you into a 3-D-like world like nothing we have ever seen before.  That you can just pop a 5-inch disc in your player and be taken away to these advanced CG worlds is almost like going into another dimension.  Now that the Pixar features are starting to roll out, this will be one of the most memorable points of the launch of high definition in the home.


Then there is the amazing sound design, something previous Pixar/Lassiter productions (as well as those directed by Brad Bird, like The Incredibles) have demonstrated.  Instead of tired, bombastic animated radio mixes, these films have proven to offer some of the most advanced multi-channel sound around and Cars is no exception.  The PCM 24/48 5.1 mix is amazing, with great depth, detail, soundfield, music fidelity, clean dialogue and overall integration that audiophiles in particular will want to hear off of this Blu-ray.  The same standard Dolby Digital 5.1 EX from the DVD is included here as well, but it is hopelessly unable to compete.  Combine that with the stunning picture and you have a demo that will sell the Blu-ray format the way the 12” DTS LaserDisc of the first Toy Story sold that format.


Not only have all the extras from the DVD set been added here, a bunch of new Blu-ray exclusive extras have been included that show that this format’s interactivity is as good as anything out there.  Besides the improved access to the film itself, you get never-before-scene-deleted-scenes, the interactive Car-Finder game that allows all viewers to get to know all the many car characters featured in the film, a Radiator Springs featurette and Cine-Explore behind-the-scenes section to learn even more about the making of this landmark.


If you have a Blu-ray player, this is a must to own.  If you do not have a Blu-ray player, get one for your HDTV and make this one of the first titles you get!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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