I have a confession to make. I fell asleep while watching the first Cars movie. I saw it in Alabang with my friend Binky and Lije, the then 7-year-old son of our mutual friend Jenina. I recall it was during the scenes where Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater were tipping tractors that I dozed off. It must have been weariness from lack of sleep. I don't know how long I was unconscious, but I remember it was a good movie, although not up to the usual Pixar quality, I thought. Then I watched it again during a long plane flight, fully awake, and it was a revelation to me. The story was poignant, the music complemented the scenes perfectly, and the movie felt complete. I was actually teary-eyed during the final scene where McQueen pushes Strip “The King” Weathers across the finish line. So when a good friend of Top Gear’s gave the team free tickets to a Cars 2 screening, most of us trooped excitedly to the Podium cinemas to watch. And the film just blew us away. Throughout the movie our peals of laughter could be heard inside the movie theater, probably making the kids who were watching bewildered at why these immature grown-ups were laughing during "their" movie. So if you haven’t seen it by now, here are eight good reasons why you should stop what you’re doing and head out to the nearest movie theater—3D or not.
- It’s a Pixar movie – Director John Lasseter and the rest of the Pixar crew are good at one thing, and it’s not the technical genius of bringing animated worlds to life: They know how to tell stories. This is the main reason why they are the most successful movie studio in the world. No other film company has a better track record. The Pixar films considered “weak” are still veritable blockbusters, raking in profit and basking in critical acclaim. You non-Pixar movie studios listen up, we just want to be told good stories. That’s all it takes to make awesome films. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but that’s why we fork over our hard-earned money; so you can fill two hours of our lives with enriching images and engrossing story lines—yes, we will pay for good movies and not resort to Manong Dibidi.
- It has awesome cars – Cars 2 is nothing short of cargasm. Car nuts will have a field day naming the cars on screen and the voices behind them. And the sounds, oh wow. The first Cars only had NASCAR-derived engine sounds because McQueen raced in an American stock car racing series. But now there are other race cars from different motor sports: Francesco Bernoulli, a Formula 1 car; an unnamed rally car that looks like a Subaru Impreza WRX STI; Sir Nigel Gearsley, an Aston Martin DB9 LeMans car; a DTM touring car; Lewis Hamilton, a McLaren MP4-12C race car; and Jeff Gorvette (voiced by Jeff Gordon), a Chevrolet Corvette C6 LeMans car. There are other cars I’m sure the car lovers among you will have fun naming.
- It’s an espionage movie – Michael Caine voices Finn McMissile, a secret agent investigating an elaborate plot to discredit alternative fuel. His car is a combination of automobiles of onscreen secret agents: a Volvo P1800, a BMW 507 and an Aston Martin DB5. McMissile is fitted with all sorts of gadgets and weapons that reminded me of why I fell in love with James Bond films in the first place; no matter what the situation, Bond has a device or gadget that saves him to die another day. Whereas the first Cars was set in Radiator Springs and the Piston Cup racing world, Cars 2 has a more global perspective. Pixar successfully introduced a new aspect to the Cars universe and pulled it off perfectly. The espionage aspect is so realistic some cars even die, an aspect that surprised me knowing how owner Disney treats character deaths (notice how most Disney villains fall to their demise and not by the heroes’ hands?).
- Mater is the lead – If you found Mater funny and amusing in the first flick, you will be happy to know he has a more prominent role in Cars 2. He actually gets the lead role and the story revolves around his misadventures as a spy.
- It doesn't matter if you watch in 3D or not – Most 3D movies are just a marketing gimmick to charge us more money for a few scenes the studio worked in to justify the 3D badge. In my opinion, the only 3D movie worth watching in 3D was Avatar, because James Cameron envisioned it in that viewing format. But with films as good as Pixar, 3D can be ignored. I watched Toy Story 3 three times, twice in 2D and once in 3D. I enjoyed them equally. Same with Cars 2. The 3D rendering works in that the visuals are enhanced, but if you watch it in 2D you will enjoy just as much—and there’s no loss of brightness from seeing the movie in the tinted 3D glasses. Yes, those glasses diminish the light from the projector. If you're into 3D, and I know some people are, and you don't mind forking over more cash, go ahead and enjoy the 3D scenes.
- The scenery is amazing – Lightning McQueen competes in the World Grand Prix, a race series set in Japan, Italy and England. Lasseter and his team create stunning vistas and city race tracks for the cars to compete in. The Japan race is at night, and Tokyo’s futuristic lights are realistically portrayed (trust me, I know) to a remarkable degree of accuracy. I wish I could see Pixar do its own version of Initial D or Wangan Midnight. In Italy the cars race in the Italian Riviera, a course that snakes through the mountains and the seaside with a little of the Monaco GP track thrown in. The roads here are so beautiful I wanted to drive on them.
- It’s so much funnier – What do you expect from a movie with Mater as the protagonist? His fish-out-of-water encounters as a lifetime Radiator Springs resident seeing the world for the first time are a rich source of comedy. That being said, one movie critic is right, the first Cars had more heart and drama than this one. And emotional moments are a Pixar hallmark, they’re so good at finding tender moments in their stories. There’s less of that here, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Taken for what it is, an espionage adventure around the world set in a three-part race, it’s loads of fun.
- The short film before the movie is hilarious – All Pixar movies have an opening short film, and here it picks up where Toy Story 3 left off. Woody, Buzz and the gang are in Bonnie’s room while Bonnie is on vacation in Hawaii. Suddenly Barbie and Ken pay them a visit. I just laughed the moment I saw the short film’s title.