Thursday Trailer Face-Off: Fast Five vs. Cars 2


Published February 10, 2011


Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Fast Five and Cars 2, two sequels to automotively-inclined blockbusters.

PremiseIt’s been five years since Disney/Pixar’s Cars, and 10 years since The Fast and the Furious; evidently, studio execs felt the time had come to extend both franchises. (Not that we haven’t been kept up to date on the activities of The Fast and the Furious‘s Paul Walker and co.; this year’s entry is somehow the fifth installment in the series.) Cars 2‘s premise involves red sportscar Lightning McQueen and his tow-truck pal Mater taking a trip to Japan and getting involved, however reluctantly, in the art of espionage. Fast Five, too, is set outside its characters’ comfort zone, in Rio de Janeiro. According to Apple’s synopsis, there’s something about a corrupt businessman and something else about a federal agent—but who are we kidding? The Fast premise has long been, and continues to be: “Cars can go so fast! Vroom vroom!” Advantage: Cars 2

Star PowerTough call! Cars 2 again stars Owen Wilson, who’s likeable; and Brits Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer join for the sequel, adding a fuel injection of pure class. And then there’s Michael Keaton, Bonnie Hunt, and Tony Shalhoub. (The less said about Larry the Cable Guy, the better. He has never been a cable guy.) As for Fast Five, you’ve got quite the array of attractive, muscular people: Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris. Plus, it boasts the one-two punch that’ll win the category: both Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Advantage: Fast Five

The Cars Cars 2 gets points for the British additions to its repertoire—including a sexy purple sportscar voiced by Emily Mortimer—and for the diversity of models in a scene that takes place in an airport (although, cars going through airport security? What?). But in terms of envy-inspiring car porn, an animated film just can’t compare to the real thing—in fact, the main appeal of movies like Fast Five is the idea that in a different world, we could be the ones driving a gorgeous silver convertible literally out of a train (again, what? It happens around 1:30). Advantage: Fast Five

VillainThe Fast Five crew are simultaneously trying to keep two forces at bay: the federal agent played by The Rock, and (we think) the crime lord whose money they set fire to early in the trailer. As for Cars 2, we just get a hint of a villain: at 0:27, the narrator informs us that “they’re racing to save the world,” and then there’s a brief action sequence with what appear to be some sinister-looking Japanese cars—one of whom whispers, “No one can stop us.” Given that in the five years since the first Cars, the American auto industry has basically collapsed—and that higher-quality Japanese cars have largely taken over—this may just be a little trenchant political commentary on Pixar’s part. It wouldn’t be the first time. Advantage: Cars 2

Director John Lasseter is the chief creative officer at Pixar and has produced and/or directed every Disney/Pixar movie, enchanting children and adults for more than 15 years. His co-director, Brad Lewis, was once the mayor of a city in California! Justin Lin (Fast Five) has directed a couple of other Fast and the Furious series movies, a James Franco movie we didn’t see called Annapolis, and three good episodes of Community. So… this one’s pretty easy. Advantage: Cars 2

Laughs“This just went from Mission Impossible to Mission In-freakin’-sanity!,” one character in Fast Five remarks. Since this—some barely-realized wordplay—made it into the trailer, presumably it’s the best they could scrounge up. In Cars 2, a smart-looking British car introduces himself as “Finn McMissile, British intelligence,” to which the less astute American truck responds, “To Mater, average intelligence.” That’s a pretty good one! Advantage: Cars 2

VerdictThere probably isn’t a huge crossover demographic between these two movies: Fast Five is unabashedly designed to be enjoyed by testosterone-y 19-year-old boys, while Cars 2 is a family film. But forced to decide which to sit through, we’d have to go with Cars 2. What is it about a Fast and the Furious sequel that can make car chases and explosions seem so, frankly, boring?