Quick Review: Cars 2

Cars 2
Music composed by Michael Giacchino
Orchestrated by: Tim Simonec, Michael Giacchino, Andrea Datzman, Marshall Brown, Ira Hearshen, Chris Tilton, Brad Dechter, Peter Boyer, Mark Gasbarro, Cameron Patrick
Conducted by: Tim Simonec
Album time: 60 minutes
Available on Walt Disney Records

Michael Giacchino continues his takeover of Pixar scoring with Cars 2, replacing Randy Newman, who wrote the original Cars (2006).  Similar to the Cars soundtrack, the album starts with the pop songs.  This one only has 5 songs, and the first Cars had 9 songs on the album.  That leaves 21 tracks of Giacchino score left, which is what I’ll focus on.

First off, the score itself isn’t bad.  It isn’t spectacular as the other Pixar/Giacchino works.  His other scores really can’t be topped.  The best parts of this score were his action cues, which is probably why he was there to begin with.  This film solved a lot of the problems of the first film and had a more focused story, but compared to the other Pixar achievements, it fell flat.  I appreciated that as the film traveled over the world; the music didn’t just rely on musical clich├ęs but seem to go beyond that.

The most obvious reference is a Bond-style theme for the spy aspect of the film.  This theme goes through the entire film.  I don’t mind the Bond-style guitar sections, although it seems to have taken over the album.  I’m still not quite sure how spies got mixed up in this movie.  It’s like they made a spy film, crammed in Cars characters and lots of car puns.  And Mater became the film’s main character.  He must be more popular than Lightening McQueen, but even the kids in the theater weren’t laughing that much.  But I digress.

The next section of the score is really the Radiator Springs music, portrayed with a twangy bluegrass sound.  This music is what Randy Newman brought so excellently to the original film, but Giacchino’s music is more lively and bubblier.  There are a few gentle moments in the score which aren’t really represented on the album.  I’ll mention here that the orchestration of the film really works.  It really makes the score enjoyable to listen to.  Both the spy and bluegrass themes mix in The Radiator Springs Gran Prix.

As always with Michael Giacchino soundtracks, the track titles are goofy.  I know of people that hate these, but it’s honestly the smallest deal in the world.  (Although these aren’t as pun-filled as the titles for Lost). 

So listen to the score if you enjoy the spy sound since it is the large part of the score.  It's certainly not the best or worst score of the year and it is an enjoyable listen. 

And remember, Michael Giacchino has 5! films coming out in 2011, so they can’t all be great…but this score didn’t have the spark that his other Pixar ventures did.

It's Finn McMissile! (click here to listen)
Radiator Reunion (click here to listen)
Porto Corsa (click here to listen)
The Lemon Pledge (click here to listen)
The Radiator Springs Gran Prix (click here to listen)

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