People interested in or with a passion for film often get asked what their favourite film is. I hate this question, as anyone who cares about movies should, it boils an entire medium of different perspectives, genres, voices and styles into one homogeneous mess. I do however have a default answer to that question, and that answer is Toy Story. Why, because Pixar was my childhood, I adored every single one of their films until 2006 when Cars came out. It might have been because I had gotten older but Cars did not speak to me in the way that Monsters Inc did or Finding Nemo did, and it sullied my opinion of what was once my favourite movie studio. It’s been 11 years and the third Cars film has come out, so does my original assessment of the Cars series still hold up, or was I just being an edgy teen?
Lightning McQueen seems to be on a roll career wise, he is the current champion of the Piston Cup (the Formula 1 of the Cars universe) until a cocky rookie, Jackson Storm, comes out of nowhere to steal the trophy. In his effort to beat Storm, McQueen crashes and speculation abounds as to whether he will retire. In order to beat the cars of the future McQueen, with the help of new trainer, Cruz Ramirez, must get in touch with racing champions past.
When I first saw Cars I thought that it wasn’t that good, it had irritating characters, an odd premise and a very strange look, however, a bad Pixar film is still of better quality than anything Illumination has ever done. Cars 2 though was a mistake, I mean a spy film with cars, c’mon. So going into the third film, I was not expecting much. However, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised.
Storywise, Cars 3 is nothing to write home about, it’s a standard elder-statesman sports narrative, with a bit of underdog story, something that we have seen a million times before, but it is packed with heart and an excellent twist that left me feeling a little emotional. I was a little worried at the start of the film because it didn’t really seem to find its pace until the half hour mark, but when it does, I was fully behind those strange talking cars. There were a lot of moving parts in motion, but after a while, it smoothed out into something familiar but enjoyable.
The voice cast do a solid job selling that emotion; Owen Wilson, of The Royal Tenenbaums fame, reprises his role as Lightning McQueen, slowly maturing into a decent person, car thing. Cristela Alonzo as Cruz is the heart of the film as McQueen’s trainer with big aspirations of being a racer herself, while Nathan Fillion and Armie Hammer are excellent as the film’s sort of antagonists as Sterling, the big bad sponsor, and Jackson Storm respectively.
Animation wise, Pixar are pretty strong, as always; the backgrounds are spectacular, as are the particle effects and lighting, however, there is still something uncanny about these cartoon cars interacting with a photo realistic world. Those weird dead eyes, strange mouths and odd movements ergh! Though the voice cast does enough to lessen the impact of the terrifying implications of a car world. Similarly the numerous action and racing scenes are filled with enough character the it makes the odd premise a little bearable, especially that final race.
Cars 3 is certainly not an earth shaker for Pixar like Wall-E, Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo were, but sometimes movies don’t have to be. They can tell a story that has been told before well, with characters that are likeable to provide an hour and forty minutes worth of entertainment. If you can get past the slightly freaky character design and animation, as well as the rocky start, Cars 3 is an enjoyable heart warming romp that caught me off guard.
You Can Watch Cars 3 in Cinemas now