Seen 10th July
In Pixar’s short history they have found a way to make some of the most emotional movies. Toy Story 3, Up, Inside Out, Wall-E, all movies that have a reputation of pulling at the heartstrings and making even the toughest viewer cry like an anime fan on prom night. Sadly, they’ve never gotten that level of emotion with Cars and certainly didn’t get it with Cars 3
The film tells the story of Lightning McQueen struggling to realize that he’s getting older, that the new line of cars are going to replace him. Well, I say “Realize”, I mean “Resist” because the entire film is basically McQueen refusing to accept that he is getting too old for this. After the initial conflict the film devolves into a series of training montages and while they are well done, including a particularly fun demolition derby sequence before the big race at the end. I won’t spoil the big twist but it’s both satisfying and a little disappointing. Satisfying as in it provides a good ending to one of the character’s stories, but not McQueen’s. Characters in film are meant to start in one place and end in another place, no one want’s a film where nobody grows up. Here, the person doing the growing isn’t the main character and it is kind of a let down in that respect.
To this films credit, the animation is top notch. There are sequences in this movie where you could convince me that they just filmed practical sequences and put the animated cars over the top of everything and I’d believe you. The life they give to these sentience automobiles is genuinely impressive, the expressions they can pull and the way that something as simple as the slight tilt of a tire can sell a line is impressive. There is a legitimate reason that Pixar are the top of the class when it comes to CGI movies, their work is amazing. However, the downside of such realistic looking backgrounds is that the cars stand out as being in a very contrasting style. Either everything in the image should be stylised to look similar or it’s going to look messed up. Take Inside Out as a prime example, every side character and every bit of the world fits together and creates a cohesive hole. Cars 3 genuinely looks like they just filmed real world locations and placed animated cars in them and it’s jarring at times.
The voice acting is pretty good, Owen Wilson and Cristela Alonzo (Playing Lightning and his trainer Cruz respectively) have some really good chemistry and play off each other well. The side cast includes people like Lea Delaria and Nathan Fillion who only have brief scenes to make work and to their credit they absolutely nail it. In general the cast is really great. I’m not a fan of Larry the Cable Guy having to throw in the phrase “Git ‘er done” multiple times, it made sense to throw that reference in in the earlier films when Larry was the biggest name in comedy but the man hasn’t released an album in 5 years, the reference isn’t timely anymore. When he’s not doing that reference though he is a fun character to watch.
Also MAJOR props regarding the short before this movie. It’s called “Lou” and the short is worth a watch. It’s about a sentient creature that’s made out of items that were recovered from the lost & found who keeps trying to help the kids of a kindergarten class get their lost toys back. This creature spots a bully stealing stuff and decides to set him right. It is without a doubt the most adorable thing and easily the most emotional that I felt during the entire runtime of this film.
That right there is the big problem. I felt more for the sentient blob of lost toys than I did for the main character in the feature. While the Pixar film is good by all technical standards, it lacks a lot of the passion that the other films have. It’s almost like this entire franchise is a cynical ploy to make a highly marketable franchise that you can use to sell toy cars to small children who are going to buy toy cars anyway so why not sell them one with a Pixar thing on it… just a thought. It also fails to give the main character any respectable growth and while it has some nice set pieces, it never rises to a level that you expect from Pixar.