Friday, June 16, 2017

Cars 3

I unapologetically love Cars and think Pixar's 2006 film is an underrated classic snubbed by those who have more trouble buying into its concept than any flaws in the film. It succeeds in creating a fully realized and imaginative world while providing us the best looking Pixar film to date. While I admit Cars 2 isn't in the same class, I still enjoy the sequel for the continued exploration of the world, its style, and the fun spy plot (even if it does feature too much of the franchise's most annoying supporting character).

Cars 3 may not measure up to the original either, but it does fall closer in-line with the themes of the first film while bringing Lightning McQueen's (Owen Wilson) story full circle and making a satisfying conclusion to the franchise. Now the old man of the racing circuit, McQueen has seen old friends and rivals replaced by newer, faster, and more aerodynamic competition. A crash in the final race of the year has many expecting the car to retire. With the help of his perky personal trainer, and some friends (both old and new) McQueen will struggle to find a way back into the sport before time paces him by.

Both the opening and the film's final act are strengths allowing the sequel to start and end on a high note. If the film has a weakness it's during the middle section where it meanders a bit and gets lost in the weeds before eventually finding itself again. Like both the previous two films, Cars 3 leads with its heart. This time around this means more references to Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) as McQueen sees his career possibly coming to the same abrupt end as that of his mentor in a storyline touching on themes getting older, moving on, and learning to change and adapt.

With the exception of Lightning's trusted semi Mack (John Ratzenberger), flashbacks to Doc Hudson, and a few appearances by Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the sequel largely ignores most of the cast of the first film who really on appear in cameos. Given far more screentime are McQueen's trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), the new owner of his sponsor (Nathan Fillion), and his young rival Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). While I think the script could have made better use of some of the established characters, I understand the need to focus more squarely on McQueen and the new people in his life during this time of change.

For someone who gets immediately bored with real racing, I'm not sure why I enjoy racing movies so much (perhaps because we only see the most compelling moments of each race). Sure, it may not have everything that made me love the original, but Cars 3 succeeds both as a fun animated racing flick and a fitting finale to the franchise that allows the characters to drive off into the sunset on their own terms.

No comments: