Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

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Force Majeure

Little fights turn into big fights when couples use their emotions as weapons —Marty Mapes (review...)

An avalanche is a Force Majeure

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It’s true that Cars doesn’t knock it out of the park like some of Pixar’s past triumphs (A Bug’s Life, Toy Story). But Cars is also surprisingly good, given the cheesy premise of talking cars learning the true meaning of friendship.

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Lighting strikes on DVD
Lighting strikes on DVD

If you missed it at theaters, Cars features the voice of Owen Wilson as Lighting McQueen, a race car whom everyone says is going to be the next big thing. Sure, he’s got an ego problem, but he has probably earned it with his talent and speed.

On the way to California for the race that will finally probably be his first national championship, Lightning gets separated from his carrier truck and gets lost Out West. He finds himself in a small town on Route 66 that has been a ghost town ever since the Interstate bypass opened.

During his week in the small town, Lighting learns lessons of humility, friendship, and the importance of taking time to stop and smell the air fresheners.

As another critic astutely pointed out, the film has a strong sense of nostalgia for simpler times and a bit of contempt for efficiency and modernity, which is ironic for a computer-generated cartoon released the same year that studio-made hand-drawn animation officially died.

DVD Extras

The DVD for Cars is sleek and fast. Frankly, I’m glad. I’m getting a little tired of two-disc DVDs that are more filler than insight. There are about five extra features on this DVD, and all are short and worth watching.

Two of them are animated shorts. One Man Band is the cartoon that preceded Cars in theaters, while Mater and the Ghost Light was made just for this DVD, using the same voices from the movie. Neither is as punchy as some of the earlier Pixar shorts such as Geri’s Game or Knick Knack, but both are entertaining enough, and it’s good to see Mater and friends in another context.

Epilogue was also seen in theaters. It’s the four minutes of film that ran while the credits were running, presented here, full screen, without the credits. If you were able to see all the details during the credits, there’s no need to watch it separately, but if not, here’s your chance.

Deleted Scenes shows some early concepts — animated pencil sketches — that didn’t make it to production. In one scene, Lighting’s engine is put into a steamroller while Mater takes lightning’s body out for a spin. (Perhaps the metaphysical ramifications and questions of identity were too weird for a talking-car movie.)

Finally, Inspiration for Cars features director and nice guy John Lasseter talking about how personal Cars was for him. His mother was an artist and his father sold Chevy parts. The story concept springs from his own summer on the road with his kids, slowing down to see the scenery after ten years of fast-paced movie production.

Picture and Sound

As expected, picture and sound quality on this DVD are excellent. The movie is presented in the original theatrical widescreen format (a full screen version is also available), and sound is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround.

How to Use This DVD

The movie is the most important feature, so start with that. Then watch John Lasseter talk about Inspiration for Cars. Much of his passion comes across in the movie, but it’s good to see it spelled out. Finish with Mater and the Ghost Light, which reminds you that these characters continue to live even after the movie’s done.

  • Deb: Where can I get a copy of Mater and the gost light on DVD?? November 26, 2006 reply
  • Marty: It comes on the DVD of Cars as an extra feature. Try our Amazon link on the sidebar if you want to order on-line. November 26, 2006 reply