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DVD Review: Cars

Posted on Monday, November 27th, 2006 2:49 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkCars
DVD - Single-disc Widescreen Edition
Walt Disney Video 39069 - Region 1
116 minutes

List Price: $29.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

Available on 11/7/2006

Rated G

 Theatrical This DVD
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1 2.35:1
Audio:

Dolby Digital EX
DTS-ES
SDDS

Dolby Digital EX

Contents

  • Movie
  • Pixar Shorts
    • Mater & The Ghostlight
    • One Man Band
  • Bonus Features
    • Epilogue (Scenes shown during end credits)
    • Featurette: Inspiration for Cars
    • Deleted Scenes

About the Movie

The latest in the line of Pixar creations in their partnership with Disney, following such hits as Finding Nemo, the Toy Story movies, and A Bug's Life. Here, we have a rookie race car named Lightning McQueen who is all about winning and nothing about what it takes to win or the journey one takes to get there. On the way to the big championship race, McQueen finds himself stranded in a small ghost town on Route 66. He finds that life in the slow lane has its benefits and grows attached to the locals he meets there.

How Does it Look?

For an animated feature, this movie looks incredibly life-like! As with their other movies, Pixar continues to set the standard for computer animation and this DVD lets the excellent imagery shine through. No artifacts, such as edge enhancement or macroblocking, were to be found in multiple viewings and there were times when the image was quite dark but details still shone through perfectly. This movie is going to be a slam-dunk title if/when it is released in high definition HD DVD and/or Blu-ray!

How Does it Sound?

Race fans are going to love the coverage of the "Piston Cup" races which bookend the movie! The sound is incredible with active pans between the surround channels, giving you a you-are-there sense to the experience. There were times when the sound was not just audible, but I sensed that as the cars raced past the camera, you could feel the air pressure hit you! Leave it to Pixar and the geniuses at Skywalker Sound to create a family-friendly demo for that new Home Theater!

Extras

When it was shown in the theater, movie-goers were treated to a Pixar short named "One Man Band." It can be found on the main menu screen -- do not miss this! Another short titled "Mater and The Ghostlight" can be found on the main menu screen. While not as good as "One Man Band" it is funny. There is also an Easter Egg on the main menu; keep an eye out for the Dinoco 400 logo and select it.

On the Bonus Features screen, you will find three additional items. The first is titled "Epilogue" and contains the sequences that are shown next to the end credits. This is well worth watching. The featurette "Inspiration for Cars" shows what went into making the movie from an inspiration standpoint. Director John Lasseter took the animators on a road trip along Route 66 to take in the sights, sounds, and people that populate the "mother road." Last but not least is a set of deleted scenes that are hand-drawn animations with sound and dialogue. These are interesting to watch, even though the animation is rough. It shows that story is primary, and well-crafted animation is secondary. This is a lesson that other animated features (and live action movies) should learn.

Conclusion

Cars is a very good movie, but it isn't as immediately likable as other Pixar hits. The story is better than most, however, and it's probably a more mature story than something like Toy Story or Finding Nemo. That's probably why critics didn't like it as much as the others. Ignore them and enjoy the movie. If nothing else, their disappointment is a result of the high expectations set by its predecessors, and their desire for more of the same and immediate gratification instead of originality and depth of story.

The biggest hit against this DVD release is the nagging feeling that we're going to see a two-disc release some time in the near future. A single-disc release is odd for this movie, considering the special edition treatments given to other movies being released by Disney. While not devoid of extras, it would have been nice to see the movie trailer, perhaps some more features of the animators doing their work, and extended look at the work of the late Joe Ranft.

Add to the possibility of a special edition treatment is the increasing popularity of HD DVD and Blu-ray high definition discs. The release of an "A-title" like Cars would go a long way towards increasing exposure for these formats. Indeed, there is a Blu-ray commercial tucked into the Sneak Peeks section on the disc.

These issues beg the question of whether you should buy or rent. I decided to rent via Netflix and wait for the high-def release. Even if you buy now, Cars holds up to multiple viewings, to the point where I would say that multiple viewings will improve your opinion of the movie. 

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the DVD.


RentBuy
Netflix, Inc.
Check Prices on Amazon.com


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