I once got into an argument with someone over the quality and reason for Cars’ existence. Essentially, the whole franchise began as a passion project for John Lasseter who has always dreamed about crafting this world of living, anthropomorphic automobiles. And that’s where my artistic understandings end. Because there is a massive sense that Disney saw all of this and monopolised it for merchandise purposes. Cars 2 was filled with worldwide eccentric characters that you could collect at the Disney Store. They even released the same car in different packaging. The money making elements seeped into a perplexing confusing sequel and whatever possible purity made by a simply sporting/finding yourself drama.
So which lane will Cars 3 drive-in?
Cars 3 sees Lightning McQueen facing his biggest challenge yet: Old age and retirement. Though still seemingly on top of his game, his fender is placed out of joint by the introduction of suave and cool Jackson Storm. McQueen’s new rival represents the integration of “New-Gen” cars into racing; built to be speedier. Their arrival puts the older generation out to pasture but McQueen is keen to keep racing. Can he keep up with the youngsters? Or is it time to hang-up the…erm…tires?
What’s great about Cars 3 is the animation, which is almost guaranteed when it comes to Pixar. The world of Cars is gorgeously realised (albeit still highly confusing and completely terrifying, )with classic vehicles mixed with “New-Gen” racers, showing a real study of the beauty of automobiles. It’s easy to dismiss the silliness of Cars (I know, I have done this constantly,) but when you see the intricate design of the vehicles and their world. It is impressive to look at and has great voice acting from the likes of Owen Wilson and Nathan Fillion.
It is just a shame about the script. The biggest problem with Cars 3 is that it is completely stripped from Pixar’s known whimsical and compelling story-lines. The originality is muted for bringing back an obvious narratives used in either previous outings or other films. Though expecting a Days of Thunder plot is extraneous, there are sniffles of racing dramas throughout. What’s worse is that it doesn’t feel cohesive, just a set of predictable scenes stringed together for an extremely lighthearted amusement. Spiritually akin to Monsters University, Pixar’s efforts here are seemingly heartless despite the humbled and passionate beginnings of the franchise. There are little to no laughs or entertaining moments and only in the final lap does anything get remotely interesting. By then the film has already established a sluggish and quite tedious pace to pull back into the race.
Cars 3 is stalled by the previous sequel and by never really fleshing out the tale beyond the simplistic merits. There is a loving tribute to the late Paul Newman who voiced Doc Hudson in the first film (who sadly died before Cars 2,) and there is a tender nature here that will appease Cars fans. It isn’t a complete film, just sadly a dull and lacking one that could have done so much more to overtake its predecessors.
Cars 3 is out July 14th