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John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine
Writing Credits:
Ben Queen

Star race car Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix race, but the road to the championship becomes rocky as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage.

Box Office:
$200 million.
Opening Weekend
$66,135,507 on 4115 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated G.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby+ 7.1
English Dolby 5.1 EX
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby+ 7.1
Supplements Subtitles:
Chinese Traditional (Disc 2)
Chinese Simplified (Disc 2)
Korean (Disc 2)
Portuguese (Disc 2)
Thai (Disc 2)

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date:9/10/2019

• Audio Commentary with Director John Lasseter
Hawaiian Vacation Short
Air Mater Short
• “Somewhere in the Pacific” Featurette
• “Making Lemon-Aides” Featurette
• “Motorama” Featurette
• “He Lives!” Featurette
• “Animation Pit Stop” Featurette
• “The Origins of Cars 2” Featurette
• “Brawl at Big Bentley” Featurette
• “Spyified” Featurette
• “Spy Training” Featurettes
• “Streets of Paris” Featurette
• “Finding Porto Corsa” Featurette
• “The Heart of Italy” Featurette
• “Mater Takes Tokyo” Featurette
• “Many Nations, One Race” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Set Explorations
• Slideshows
• Trailers & Sneak Peeks
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Cars 2 [4K UHD] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 21, 2024)

All good things come to an end, and with Cars 2, Pixar’s 15-year streak as The Perfect Movie Studio finished. From 1995 to 2010, they produced 11 feature films, and each one earned praise from critics and big bucks from audiences.

All of that changed in 2011 with Cars 2. At the box office, it raked in $190 million, which seems like a good total but falls short of expectations.

For one, it didn’t equal the movie’s $200 million budget, and in addition, it became the second-lowest total ever made by a Pixar flick. Only 1998’s A Bug Life made less, though if we adjust for inflation, it was a bigger hit than Cars 2.

We need no adjustments to see how poorly Cars 2 fared with critics. If you look at Rotten Tomatoes, only one prior Pixar movie scored less than 90 percent: the original 2006 Cars got a 74 percent.

That’s still a good number, and it looked terrific compared to the dismal 38 percent received by Cars 2. A 38 percent on RT isn’t just weak when compared to the other Pixar flicks; it’s plain and simple bad.

I’d love to be able to say that the critics were wrong, and I do feel that way to a degree – Cars 2 is too good to be a 38 percent RT movie.

Unfortunately, “to a degree” is as far as I can go. While it delivers some fun, I can’t deny that Cars 2 offers one of Pixar’s less engaging flicks.

In a prologue, we meet Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine), a British spy car. He gets a message from fellow secret agent Leland Turbo (Jason Isaacs) that sends McMissile to an obscure ocean location packed with oil derricks.

There he observes evil Professor Zündapp (Thomas Kretschmann) – and the crushed remains of Turbo – before the baddies notice him. McMissile manages to escape this peril and ends up in Japan to get vital information from an American agent.

In the meantime, millionaire businessman Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard) launches a new series of races called the World Grand Prix as a showcase for “Allinol”, a new – and allegedly superior – alternate fuel he invented.

Stock car hotshot Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) initially resists calls for his participation, but he can’t stay away after he endures taunts from Formula racer Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) so he enters.

McQueen’s tow truck best pal Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) craves some “buddy time”, so Lightning brings him along to Japan for the first contest. There the various threads intersect, as a case of mistaken identity leads Mater into contact with secret agent Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).

She believes Mater’s the American with whom Finn needs to contact – and unbeknownst to Mater, she’s right, as the real agent (Bruce Campbell) slips the info to the tow truck before Zündapp’s men capture him. All of this leads Mater on an adventure as he becomes a de facto secret agent.

I know the original Cars got a lot of criticism, but I didn’t agree. I thought it was a blast when I saw it theatrically, and while I’ll admit it hasn’t played as well on subsequent viewings, it still delivers a good, fun ride.

As for Cars 2? Shrug. That’s essentially the reaction the film provokes in me: one of mild entertainment but not much more.

Perhaps I’m too hard on the flick because I expect so much from Pixar. As I alluded earlier, I think that was true of a lot of the movie’s critics: the studio’s had such an amazing run of quality that the shock of a “lesser film” like this makes it seem crummier than it is.

Make no mistake: Cars 2 isn’t a poor flick. It’s not something I’d view as bad in any particular way, and like I said, that 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes is an overreaction.

On the other hand, I can’t do much to defend Cars 2 as especially good, and some of its problems come from its choice of leading vehicle. When a movie elevates a sidekick to lead role status, it takes a real risk. Most of those “buddy parts” work great in their supporting capacities, but when forced to carry a film, their one-note personalities limit their ability to come to the fore.

That’s a definite issue here as the movie tries to take the first flick’s “comic relief” character and focus on him. It’s not a choice that genuinely flops, but I don’t think it works, either.

Mater is fun in small doses but not a character who remains enchanting across 106 minutes. I admit that he never becomes as grating as I feared, but he also fails to take charge of the movie in the manner necessary.

I suspect that’s why the filmmakers ended up with problem number two: an excessively busy movie. Cars 2 comes with an awfully complicated plot – or 12 – and never integrates them in a terrible coherent manner. The film focuses on the spy story, but it throws in Mater’s character arc, the World Grand Prix, and a few other areas along the way.

Most of it adds up to little, and the attempts at fun aren’t enough to excuse the messy storytelling. The complications seem especially problematic given the film’s target audience. While all Pixar flicks work for kids, the Cars flicks appeal to an especially young crowd.

Maybe the movie delivers enough flash and pizzazz to ensure they don’t get lost in the morass of a plot, but I suspect much confusion will greet the kiddies. Crud, I’m an adult of (theoretically) decent intelligence, and I thought it was hard to understand this sucker!

All of these complaints aside, I do think Cars 2 offers a reasonably enjoyable movie. It’s fun to see the Cars versions of the different international locations, and even with the messy plot, the flick cranks along at a good clip. We get the usual solid voice cast, and all provide nice work.

The film does remain a disappointment, though. Cars 2 gives us reasonable entertainment across its 106 minutes, and it never threatens to disenchant us. However, “perfectly okay” seems like faint praise for a Pixar flick, so this is an enjoyable flick but not one that lives up to the studio’s standards.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Cars 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. We find strong picture quality.

Sharpness consistently appeared immaculate. Even the widest shots demonstrated excellent clarity, as every aspect of Cars 2 looked detailed and distinctive.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and I saw no edge haloes or processing concerns. Of course, print flaws weren’t a factor, as they stayed away from this unblemished presentation.

With its many international settings, the film boasted a dazzling array of hues. These always looked amazing, as the movie provided consistently full, rich colors. HDR contributed impact and punch to the tones.

Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows looked clear and appropriately defined. HDR brought range and power to whites and contrast.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack soared. It came with a wide variety of sequences that gave us chances for vivid material, and it brought those out in a satisfying way.

The movie used race scenes to allow cars to zoom around the room, and other action set pieces threw planes, boats, trains and gunfire at the viewer. All of these combined in a lively manner that used the speakers to immerse us in the film. The mix packed in tons of information and blended it together well.

Audio quality was solid. Music appeared vivid and rich, with good highs and warm lows. Speech was consistently distinctive and natural, while effects showed great range.

Those elements appeared accurate and dynamic, as they packed a strong punch. Everything worked nicely here to form a strong soundtrack.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the movie’s Blu-ray version? The Atmos audio boasted a bit more involvement.

Visuals demonstrated the usual format-related improvements, mainly related to the impact of HDR on colors and blacks. The 4K turned into a nice little upgrade.

For those with the necessary TV equipment, matters complicate due to the existence of a 3D version of Cars 2. If that group includes you, should you go 3D or 4K?

I would lean toward the 4K. While the 3D offered a nice sense of involvement, it didn’t stand out as memorable, so the improved audio and visuals made the 4K the superior product.

Though we get no extras on the 4K, the included Blu-ray discs add information, and the main attraction on BD One comes from an audio commentary with directors John Lasseter and Brad Lewis. They provide separate tracks that get edited together to discuss inspirations and development, story and character topics, cast and performances, various animation subjects, cast and performances, set design and visual choices, music, audio, and other issues.

I’ve really enjoyed every other commentary in which Lasseter participated, and that continues here. Though Lewis contributes a fair amount of info, Lasseter dominates and adds a great deal of useful material. He’s efficient, prepared, succinct and enjoyable across this commentary. This adds up to a charming and educational chat.

We also find two shorts. Hawaiian Vacation (5:50) preceded theatrical screenings of Cars 2 and gives us a new Toy Story adventure. In it, Ken (Michael Keaton) bemoans that he and Barbie (Jodi Benson) didn’t get to accompany their owner Bonnie (Emily Hahn) with them to Hawaii.

To compensate, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the other toys throw them a fake tropical vacation. This is a simply delightful short.

Air Mater (5:25) delivers a “Cars Toon”. This shows a “tall tale” in which Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) claims he once flew a plane. It’s decent but not nearly as charming as Vacation.

On a second Blu-ray, we get additional materials, almost all of which appear under nine domains related to various movie locations. The only exception comes for a Sneak Peek at “The Nuts and Bolts of Cars Land”. Led by actor John Ratzenberger, it spans six minutes, 47 seconds and brings notes from Lasseter, Disney Imagineering Senior Concept Writer/Director Kevin Rafferty, Imagineering VP/Executive Producer Kathy Mangum, Imagineering VP-Project Management Jim Kearns, Rockwork Field Art Director Zsolt Hormay,

We get a look at a then-new “land” at Disneyland. Though it comes with some insights about the processes required to complete a new park domain, much of it feels promotional.

When we go to location-based section, we start with The Pacific and its two featurettes: “Somewhere in the Pacific” (3:34) and “Making Lemon-Aides” (4:02). Across these, we hear from Lasseter, Lewis, story supervisor Nathan Stanton, screenwriter Ben Queen, development and effects artist Jon Reisch, effects supervisor Gary Bruins, set artist Kristian Norelius, shading art director Bert Berry, lighting director of photography Sharon Calahan, producer Denise Ream, character art director Jay Shuster, and directing animator Victor Navone.

The reels look at animation and photography as well as set/character design. Though brief, the featurettes offer good insights.

A Set Exploration (0:22) simply offers a “spin-around” look at the “Oil Derrick”. It proves mildly interesting at best.

“Pacific” ends with an Art Slideshow. It displays 10 stills that let us see concept art and becomes a short but engaging collection.

Next we go to Emeryville USA and a few more featurettes. Motorama (7:40) involves Lasseter, Cars “franchise guardian” Jay Ward, Cars 2 promo manager Stephanie Hamilton and husband Matt, director/animator Mark Walsh, story artist Scott Morse and father Ron, and Up producer Jonas Rivera.

Pixar employees stage an annual car show, and “Motorama” looks at it. This seems self-indulgent and not especially compelling.

He Lives! (3:47) delivers comments from Lasseter, Shuster, design manager Brad Godlewski, art and creative services manager Ben Butcher, and Mattel senior designer Tyler Kenney.

In this reel, we learn about the design of Finn McMissile as well as his adaptation into toy form. Some worthwhile notes emerge.

With Animation Pit Stop (4:17), we get a collection of Cars 2 animation bumpers. I guess these ran on the Disney Channel, but their purpose seems unclear. They offer minor amusement.

“Emeryville” finishes with the US teaser and the US trailer.

When we head to Radiator Springs, The Origins of Cars 2 (6:03) appears first. It involves Lasseter, producer Darla Anderson, production designer Harley Jessup, author/actor Michael Wallis, “4 Women on the Route” co-owner Melba Jean Rigg, and Rock Café owner Dawn Welch.

The program discusses the movie’s roots as well as research. We get a basic but decent look at the topics.

A Deleted Scene called “Tall Tale” lasts three minutes, 35 seconds. It comes with an intro from Nathan Stanton and provides an interesting alternate opening to the movie.

This domain completes with a Radiator Springs set exploration (0:30) and an Art Slideshow. The latter includes 11 images.

Next we move to London and the Brawl at Big Bentley featurette. It goes for five minutes, 28 seconds and involves Lewis, Jessup, Shuster, Stanton, Lasseter, Norelius, Berry, editor Stephen Schaeffer, graphic artist Cassandra Smolcic, animator Jude Brownbill and technical artist Michael Frederickson.

“Brawl” covers location research as well as various design choices. Expect a tight little examination of these areas.

Spyified lasts six minutes, 27 seconds. Here we locate info from Lasseter, Stanton, Queen, Shuster, Navone, former US intelligence operative Linda Reid, and animator Gina Santos.

This one discusses intelligence research/lingo as well as other spy-related topics. It delivers another useful reel.

Spy Training: London lasts a mere 47 seconds and provides… I don’t really know. It shows Holly and Finn as they train Mater but it doesn’t seem to be an actual deleted scene. I’m guessing it was a little bumper for TV purposes.

In addition to the film’s UK trailer, we get Set Explorations for “Big Bentley” (0:10), “Tower Bridge” (0:08), “London Eye” (0:15) and “Buckingham Palace” (0:10). Another Art Slideshow delivers 29 more examples of concept work.

Paris presents Streets of Paris, a four-minute, 32-second featurette. It gives us remarks from Lasseter, Ream, Lewis, Jessup, Shuster, Norelius, Navone and set designer Armand Baltazar.

Like “Brawl”, “Streets” offers a quick look at research and the movie’s design choices related to Paris. We find some good notes here.

Called “Paris Race”, a Deleted Scene occupies six minutes. After an intro from Stanton, we see the unused Le Mans-style competition. It becomes a fun piece, one in which Stanton appears again at the end to explain why the movie lost this segment.

Spy Training: Paris brings another short deleted scene-like clip that goes for 43 seconds. It also seems moderately amusing.

“Paris” ends with Set Explorations for “Arc de Triomphe” (0:15), “Eiffel Tower” (0:10) and “Paris Market” (0:17). Another Art Slideshow manifests with 27 images.

When we shift to Munich, we get two Deleted Scenes: “Germany” (2:37) and “Oktoberfest” (4:23). Both also come with the standard comments from Stanton, and they give us intriguing moments.

Materhosen spans a mere nine seconds and offers a bumper. It seems cute but too short to offer much.

We finish with the movie’s German trailer and a 16-image Art Slideshow.

Prague brings a nine-still Art Slideshow and a Deleted Scene called “Prague Chase”. It runs two minutes, 58 seconds with Stanton’s notes and turns into another enjoyable unused concept.

Next we move to Porto Corsa and two featurettes. Finding Porto Corsa lasts seven minutes, 31 seconds and brings remarks from Lasseter, Jessup, Stanton, Ward, Lewis, Baltazar, Calahan, director of photography Jeremy Lasky, sets supervisor John Halstead, supervising animator Dave Mullins, directing animator Michal Makarewicz, and animator Nancy Kato.

“Finding” examines the design of the fictional Italian town and real-life inspirations as well as some story/animation domains. We get a tight take on the topics.

The Heart of Italy goes for four minutes, 15 seconds and delivers statements from Stanton, Lewis, Lasseter, Norelius, Berry, Jessup, Queen, supervising animator Shawn Krause and crowd animator Guillaume Chartier.

This one digs into more location and design areas. It adds more worthwhile information.

With International Insurance, we get a 17-second animated bumper that remains mildly enjoyable. In addition to a 28-frame Art Slideshow. we wrap with Set Explorations for “Uncle Topolino’s Square” (0:15) and “Porto Corsa” (18).

Lastly, Tokyo comes with two more featurettes. Mater Takes Toyko fills four minutes, 55 seconds and involves Morse, Navone, Stanton, Calahan, Berry, Jessup, Smolcic, Lasseter, Norelius, art manager Becky Neiman, graphic artist Ellen Moon Lee, graphics consultant Tamiko Ishidate, and sets art director Nat McLaughlin.

As expected, “Takes” looks at design issues related to the movie’s Japan scenes. It offers a good array of insights.

Many Nations, One Race takes up seven minutes, five seconds and features Lasseter, Schaffer, Lewis, Jessup, Stanton, McLaughlin, Lasky, Mullins, Navone, and Kato.

Here we look at the cars featured in the film and more about the film’s depiction of Tokyo. It finishes the featurettes on a good note.

An Extended Scene titled “Tokyo Race, Lap One” spans three minutes, 25 seconds. It shows what the title implies: the whole first lap of that race. It doesn’t seem especially interesting.

We can watch “Lap” with or without commentary from Lasky, Shaffer and Makarewicz. They tell us about some technical subjects in this decent chat.

One more Spy Training reel appears. It goes for 41 seconds and delivers the usual clip.

We finish with a Japanese trailer, a Set Exploration for “Museum” and a 41-frame Art Slideshow.

Note that although it appears to have no home anywhere else, the “Art Slideshow” menu provides a five-still collection for “Moscow”.

After an unparalleled streak of well-received movies, Pixar comes down to earth with Cars 2. In no way, shape or form does the film flop, but it rarely excels, either. The 4K UHD provides excellent picture and audio as well as a solid set of supplements. Cars 2 entertains in an acceptable manner but it remains a pretty average flick.

To rate this film visit the Blu-ray review of CARS 2

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main