CARS 3

SPEED THRILLS

Sound & Vision - - ENTERTAINMENT - Thomas J. Nor­ton

In the orig­i­nal Cars, from 2006, hot­shot race­car Light­ning McQueen learned to be a gra­cious win­ner but a win­ner none­the­less. In Cars 2, Pixar learned that they could pro­duce a less than sparkling se­quel. Now, in Cars 3, the sec­ond Dis­ney-Pixar prop­erty to pro­duce a three­quel (af­ter Toy Story

3), McQueen is get­ting older, los­ing his edge, and suf­fer­ing both losses and trash talk from newer, sleeker, faster rac­ers. But he goes back into train­ing, gets up to speed (so to speak), and is on the verge of mo­tor­ing back to the top when….OK, you don’t ex­pect spoil­ers, do you?

In my first view­ing on a pro­jec­tor and big screen, I was put off by the film’s slow start, lame hu­mor (Mater has lit­tle more than a bit part here, and he’s missed), and less than sub­tle mes­sag­ing that, while fine in a one-shot story and found in in­nu­mer­able Dis­ney films, com­pro­mises McQueen’s char­ac­ter arc as es­tab­lished in the first two films. When viewed again, this time on a flat-screen UHDTV, I did like it bet­ter de­spite my con­tin­u­ing is­sues with the di­rec­tion it took. But for ded­i­cated Light­ning McQueen fans, I’d sug­gest a rental rather than a pur­chase.

Pixar’s an­i­ma­tors have been so con­sis­tently flaw­less that the stan­dards they’ve set are be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to ex­ceed, even for them. Nev­er­the­less, they al­most do so here, and the su­perb Ul­tra HD pic­ture qual­ity fully re­veals their ef­forts. As with most brightly lit an­i­mated films, there are few op­por­tu­ni­ties for the UHD disc’s high dy­namic range to stand out. But you’ll spot it nev­er­the­less, par­tic­u­larly when McQueen and Cruz (his trainer) find them­selves in a night­time, mud­soaked de­mo­li­tion derby com­plete with bright py­rotech­nics. The color and res­o­lu­tion are also su­perb; the metal­lic sparkle on McQueen’s post-makeover re-paint, for ex­am­ple, is clearly vis­i­ble, with the new red deeper and richer than be­fore.

Oddly, the disc de­faults to lossy Dolby Dig­i­tal on load­ing; you have to select the loss­less Dolby At­mos track man­u­ally. I lis­tened to the lat­ter, but in 5.1. The sound is big, clean, and dy­namic. While not quite as wow-in­duc­ing as the best-sound­ing films I’ve heard, it doesn’t dis­ap­point and is en­hanced by a beau­ti­fully recorded Randy New­man score.

The ex­tras are ex­ten­sive, with deleted scenes, mak­ing-of fea­turettes, the short film Lou, and ad­di­tional back­ground in­for­ma­tion—plus an in­ter­est­ing but clearly mer­chan­diz­ing short on the many com­mer­cially avail­able, minia­ture die-cast mod­els of the Cars char­ac­ters. There’s also a com­men­tary track, but only on the HD disc.

Pixar

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