By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 15, 2011 at 2:47AM
It's odd for us to know that a new Pixar film is only a few months away, and yet not feel any particular excitement about it, but that's the situation we find ourselves in ahead of the release of "Cars 2" The original wasn't terrible, exactly, (it still stands head and shoulders above most CGI fare from other studios), but considering the high standards that Pixar have set themselves, it was firmly at the bottom of the pack, and appears to have been greenlit principally because of the giant merchandising revenue that the property brings in to the Disney coffers (a mammoth $2 billion a year, totalling $8 billion to date, more than the total box-office revenue from Pixar's films combined).
Nevertheless, a sequel is on the way, with an action-packed, globetrotting spy twist (as the disappointing trailer revealed), and while most of the original cast are returning, including Owen Wilson, the barely-tolerable Larry The Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin and Michael Keaton (although sadly, and obviously, not Paul Newman, the best thing in the original by a mile), there's a whole host of new characters joining the mix, led by Michael Caine as British spy Finn McMissile, along with Emily Mortimer, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna, Peter Jacobson and Thomas Kretschmann as the villain, Professor Zundapp.
Now, Disney/Pixar have revealed two more names who'll feature prominently, and they're both more than worthy of the company they're keeping. The Hollywood Reporter relates that, at an event at New York's Toy Fair in support of the film, the studio announced that Eddie Izzard and John Turturro would feature in the cast for the sequel.
Izzard will play Miles Axelrod, an oil baron who developed a conscience and turned himself electric, dedicating himself to finding a clean energy source -- suggesting a possible MacGuffin for the picture, as well as a "Wall-E"-style environmental theme. Turturro, meanwhile, will play Formula 1 car Francesco Bernoulli, the principle rival to Wilson's Lightning McQueen on the racetrack this time out.
We're big fans of both stars, and they seem to fit right in at the Pixar stable -- Izzard, in particular, always knocks his voice work out the park, and will hopefully find more success here than in his somewhat stop-start big-screen career so far. It's a very promising cast, and we hope it bodes well for the finished film -- after all, we're sure that John Lasseter & co weren't totally ignorant of the criticism of the original. Hopefully "Cars 2" will mark a significant improvement when it opens on June 24th.