Pixar, one of the most renowned studios in film animation, has made classics, such as Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Monster’s Inc. However, the Cars series of films have been a set of road bumps on an otherwise smooth journey. Cars 3 is a marked improvement from the previous films as it effectively concludes the series, but it is still a drag to watch due to shoddy writing.
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) in this movie is facing retirement as newer cars with faster speeds and improved aerodynamics hit the track. After crashing in the last race of the season, he goes through a journey of discovering what his role in the world is; is he going to continue racing or is it time to retire?
It’s confounding that such a prolific studio can release such poorly written drivel. Cars 3 feels like a slog as its jokes fall flat, its pacing is incredibly slow, and its plot is predictable. For a movie about cars, there really isn’t that much racing to watch in this flick. It’s hard to see this movie holding a child’s attention for its 1 hour, 49 minute run time. In addition, Cars 3 milks the cliché of characters mentioning lines from a previous scene to inspire the hero; it’s getting pretty old. Thankfully, Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy), who is more guilty of this than any other character, doesn’t take up too much screen time.
Surprisingly, Cars 3 provides a conclusion to the series that is satisfactory, albeit predictable. Cars 3 manages to be emotionally moving at times through Lightning’s journey, particularly in moments of reflection with his coach, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman). Surprisingly, they actually gave the cold marketing machine of the Cars series a heart. The voice acting between Wilson and Cristela Alonzo as Cruz Ramirez is brimming with chemistry and the performances are well done. Also, Randy Newman’s accompaniment nails the excitement of each race but distills the emotional punch that the scenes need.
Just like The Good Dinosaur, this movie’s background visuals are stunning. Each setting looks realistic and is brimming with colour. Radiator Springs and the NASCAR-like stadiums have never looked so good. However, not all the technical improvements are for the better. The Cars characters look creepy, especially their eyes and mouths. Something just doesn’t look right to see an animated car’s mouth and soulless eyes staring right at you. Their cartoon look doesn’t mesh well with the environments either, but somehow the world sucks you into its strange setting with its gorgeous animation. Certain things require you to suspend your disbelief, as the world doesn’t make much sense at all. Little things, like Lightning using tape despite a lack of hands, bothered me throughout the film.
Whenever there is the rare occurrence of a race, the animation is slick. The dust rising off the ground, tires etching the track, and the thrilling segments of weaving, jumping, and accelerating give that child-like wonder you get from watching NASCAR or Formula 1 races. Each race is exciting to watch, and the well-animated crowd and sound of the stadium maintains that rush.
After thinking more about the film after watching it, Cars 3 has its moments within a cesspool of slow pacing and predictable writing. The film is stunning to watch and the conclusion of Lightning McQueen’s story is well implemented and is actually moving. Cars 3 is a serviceable film for the kids, but won’t offer much to the older Pixar fans in the crowd.
(Featured image: Disney Pixar)