On March 31, I was invited to Pixar to view about 30 minutes of footage from Cars 2. It is important to note that the film was unfinished (and is still being completed as we speak), so these thoughts are not a review of the footage. Additionally, the following will also remain spoiler-free, so you can rest easy about the chance of coming across any story-compromising details. Read on to view my first impressions!
Let me start off by briefly talking about my feelings for the original Cars. I will admit that the first film did not leave me quite as blown away as the rest of Pixar’s roster. I was touched by the theme of the film, since as a resident of NYC, life seems to move at a ridiculous rate. The idea of slowing down and enjoying life with friends was a very nice story aspect of the film, which made my viewing of Cars even more of an enjoyable experience. I watched it several more times, and then finally while listening to the director’s commentary, I realized that I liked the film more than ever.
When Disney/Pixar announced that that the storyline for the sequel would be influenced by the spy-genre, I was not fully convinced. After hearing various interviews and seeing some of the promotional material, I realized that Pixar was making an actual spy film starring characters from the Cars franchise, which finally had me on board. After seeing 26 minutes of footage from Cars 2, I have to say that I am officially hooked.
We watched two extended sequences from Cars 2 – one from the beginning of the film and one from later on. In the footage we viewed, the film moves at a much faster pace than the original film, with the opening featuring incredible action. The feeling of adventure in spy films is essential, and Pixar has done a great job at creating an opening that will likely set that exciting tone for the rest of the film.
I will also mention that the great spy films also feature dark and gritty aspects. Think back to Pixar’s last film, Toy Story 3, where a prison-break sequence was put together – the film did not pull any punches. It did not come off as a parody of a prison-break – it was dark and it truly felt like an exhilarating prison-break sequence. Now, I am not saying that Cars 2 has become a spy film for adults, because we have to remember that Pixar creates its films for all ages. However, similar to Toy Story 3, the creative team is not shy about integrating a darker feeling to the story and the visuals.
More importantly, the spy themed action did not feel inauthentic for the characters. Some of the worries were that having Lightning McQueen and Mater involved with spies would lead to a film that felt out of place in the Cars world, and that thematically, the sequel would not feature ‘heart.’ While I did not see the whole film, I can say that Cars 2 has not forgotten about what makes up these characters.
Visually speaking, the footage looked spectacular – not pretty, not simply beautiful, but spectacular. The first Toy Story may have been a visual wonder when it came out (and it still looks great), but the strides that Pixar has made in animation and the technical department are on full display here. The amount of detail is just breathtaking.
Coming out of the screening, I could not wait to see the rest of the film. When I see it completed, I will share my an actual review of the film. There are only two months left until it hits theaters, and yes, it is officially okay to be excited by that notion – I sure am.
Cars 2 arrives in theaters on June 24!