Cars (2006)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Larry The Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt
Extras: Short Films, Featurette, Deleted Scenes

With a long string of unrivalled success movies, Pixar have long established themselves as the leader in computer animated feature and short films. It is a position that is often challenged by other filmmakers and studios but Pixar have always been able to one-up their film over their competitors. With "Cars" they released a film in theaters earlier this year that I wasn't too sure would really tickle my fancy, but once wrapped up in the Pixar storytelling, once again the movie turned out to be an animation highlight. Now, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has prepared a DVD release for home viewing.

Taking place in a world of living cars, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is a racecar with a lot of promise. He is on the verge of winning the Piston Cup as the first rookie in history after a hugely successful season. Cocky, young and reckless he takes daring risks and on this day he pays dearly. With blown out tires he loses his winning position and the race ends in a three-way tie. The final winner will be determined by another race in California.

On the long coast-to-coast trip in his trailer, McQueen gets lost by accident however and finds himself in Radiator Springs. Located on the old Route 66 and forgotten by the rest of the world Radiator Springs is a desert small town with little understanding for a big city hot shot superstar race car. They have different values. And during his stay there – as a result of a court order following his reckless driving which destroyed the town's main street – McQueen is slowly introduced to this slower lifestyle and these different, more traditional values.

As expected, Buena Vista Home Entertainment is dishing out a reference transfer of the movie on this DVD. Presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio the all-digital transfer is absolutely clean and free of any defects. Colors are brutally vivid with vibrant hues and tones. Black levels are deep and solid, creating an image with a solid and deep shadows that are always well-defined. The transfer is razor sharp but without even a hint of edge-enhancement. In short, it is a pristine transfer of reference quality.

The main audio track on the disc is a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital EX track that is also brutally aggressive. Making incredible use of the surround channels, the sound track pushes EX technology to its limits, especially during the furious racing scenes in the film. But even during the subtle moments of the movie, the sound track is always lively and active, using ambient effects to create a wide sound stage.

As extras the DVD also includes a new short film called "Mater And The Ghostlight." It is a hilarious short riffing on the character of Mater some more to good effect. Also included is "One Man Band," the short film that was also shown in theaters before the movie, about two competing street musicians vying for the last money of a little girl.

The release is rounded out by a short featurette called "Inspiration For Cars" and a wide selection of Deleted Scenes.

For a Pixar movie this DVD is surprisingly slim, and fans of the filmmakers will undoubtedly be a bit disappointed about that. There is not even a commentary track, let away any technical featurettes about the making of the film. Considering that Pixar has a tradition of laying it all on the line, this is truly a surprising move. At the same time it is, of course, a clear indication that a full fledged Special Edition cannot be too far off – hopefully accompanied by a high definition version of the film.

"Cars" is every bit as cool as you would expect from a Pixar movie. Don't let yourself be fooled by the race car push of the film's promo trailers. The racing aspect is really just an introduction to the character and world of Lightning McQueen. The real movie reveals its real meat and story once McQueen gets off his home turf and meets the quirky folks in Radiator Springs. And it is there where Pixar excel yet again, telling a wonderful story, full of character and charm. And with that, Pixar have once again cemented their place in the Pantheon of Gods of Animation.