December 27, 2007 by Marshal Rosenthal
Americans have long had a love affair with their cars. So how could Pixar fail at creating a high-octane movie when the tank’s overflowing with excellently animated vehicles, and a clever story complemented by a whole lot of celebrity voices? Plus all the thrills of a “Nascar” like racing that looks as good as any video game ever did?
With more eye-candy than Willie Wonka’s Factory, this is one wild high-definition ride that shows why animation gone 1080p is worth bothering with. There’s so much frantic action, it’s hard to keep up and without this kind of resolution the movies would slip the clutch. Contrast is right-on, metallic highlights bounce and each scene is “pumped” with colors and a brilliance that can actually overwhelm the eye but turning away isn’t an option when those cars are roaring down the track. And even when things get quiet, the amount of detail that is drilled down into each car and setting makes it worth a second, third and even fourth watch and really does show why DVD can’t keep up with the pack? (Mater the dilapidated Tow Truck is just plain funny no matter what anyone might say).
Now the soundtrack relies on PCM for sending its 5.1 multi-channel audio out at you, but even Dolby Digital sounds great, so those using this need not worry. Let’s be real here - any decent surround system is going to have a good time as long as the screech of cars isn’t locking the wheels just at the front speakers, and the bass is revving towards the red line and thumping at the back of your head.
The extras include those found on the DVD (animated shorts, deleted scenes, etc.) but there’s also high-def material - the CineExplore feature (now common on Disney BD titles) provides a Dashboard interface to select related content as the film plays (or can automatically just jump to commentary, video clips and imaging for you). There’s also a “find-the-car” game that runs concurrent with the film and rewards your search with fun facts about all 217 of them. Plus what makes this game more next-gen is in its ability to “remember” your accumulation of cars, so that the next time you pop in the disc you can pick up right where you left off. So ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, er…make that BD players.
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Disc Specs and Credits
Format reviewed: Blu-ray
Disc Size: BD-50
Aspect Ratio: 1080p, 2.39:1
Audio: PCM 5.1
Director: John Lasseter and Joe Ranft (co-director)
Screenwriter: Dan Fogelman and John Lasseter and Joe Ranft and Kiel Murray and Phil Lorin and Jorgen Klubien
Starring: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry The Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Guido Quaroni, Jenifer Lewis, Paul Dooley, Michael Wallis, George Carlin, Katherine Helmond, John Ratzenberger, Joe Ranft, Michael Keaton
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
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