When "Cars" came out in 2006, the film, in its own way, changed animation forever. For the first time, animation tackled one of the greatest challenges it has ever faced - giving emotion to objects that are not only lifeless, but whose physical appearance (bulky cars) don`t allow much room for giving them expression on the drawing board.
But John Lasseter, the creative helm behind the phenomenal success of the Pixar story, managed just that with "Cars". However, five years later, that does not seem to be so cutting edge. Where the film could have made up for this loss, is through a solid storyline like "Toy Story 3". However, "Cars 2", with its wafer thin story line, fails in that respect.
In the "Cars 2", Lightening McQueen (Owen Wilson) has won four Piston Cups in a row and is settled in Radiator Springs that has become a huge tourist attraction. Tow Mator (Larry The Cable Guy), the rusty old car is his best friend, who unwittingly challengers another car and McQueen finds himself fighting a championship that is meant to showcase a new source of energy instead of petroleum. A British intelligence car meanwhile, has discovered that something is not right in the world of oil.
"Cars 2" takes car chases a bit too literally. And though it is exciting to see cars chasing one another through rooftops the world over, it is not really as thrilling as watching humans chasing each other through roofs, the great animation work notwithstanding. Hence, while the visuals continue to be stunning, its thin story line, and reliance on thrills, rather than emotion, does the film in.
Even when trying to tackle the politics behind renewable energy, which indeed exists in the real world, it goes a little too simplistic. Also, unlike the first, there is no metaphor, or soul to the film, and the little attempts at showing that even the old belong in the new world, is not driven home with creativity.
The film does try to make up for the loss by some ingenious reference, like a Car Pope or a car that is the British Queen. But that is not enough in a film that lacks either the laughs, or the emotion of its much more exciting predecessor.
John Lasseter perhaps remains good only behind the scenes, as the executive producer of some of the most landmark animation films ever made, rather than in the directors chair.