MOVIE REVIEW – Lightning McQueen is finally back after a long hiatus, our lovely race car is ready to retire? While the first movie was about rookie McQueen becoming a pro-racer, and the second movie had some spy themes going, the third movie seems to return to the original’s more somber tone, and with quite a few new characters.
However while watching Cars 3 I was waiting for some of the usual and standard clichés to be thrown in, but I found the movie to be instead a rather fun and refreshing attempt at allowing a character to evolve.
In with the new, out with the old
The story of Cars 3 is about the realization for McQueen to finally realize he is not what he used to be from the old days. It is not just that he is getting older, but other younger talents are joining the races, so McQueen has difficulty in keeping up on the track. From this point, McQueen ends up in a race which nearly cost his life, and thinks of either retiring or trying to somehow keep up with the new high tech cars.
It feels generic at first but the characters are well-developed, and it seems Pixar is ignoring the events of Cars 2. Instead, most of the callbacks are for the first movie, plus adding further details to the overall story of McQueen’s end of career by shedding light on Doc Hudson’s racing life. There are new characters in this sequel but most of their appearances are one off, or barely have enough screen time to be fleshed out. They reduced Mater significantly compared to Cars 1, and Cars 2 which is an interesting choice since he was always the vehicle for the movies’ humor.
In fact, I’m not even sure if I could call this movie comedy, as it is straight up depressing at times. The acceptance of moving on after losing a great mentor, the concept of being beaten at something you were great for most of your life, and even just in general the concept of getting old gets hammered throughout the movie into our brains. There is humor for sure in the form of visual gags, but the writing here is more serious compared to Cars 1.
Sadly though while the movie has deep themes, the dialogue, and some of the scenes take away from these themes since they are not always the best-written parts of the movie. Still, the movie regarding plot is both for kids and for adults as both will be able to relate to it (although it can still depressing for some kids).
Real life Cars
The animation for Cars 3 is unbelievably detailed, and I could not have expected anything less from Pixar. While it is not groundbreaking, and most of the visuals are simply realistic, I was awed by how that realism transferred to the screen, especially the background locations, and race tracks. Although I was watching a cartoon, it looked like as if it was a photo of a location. So we have a mixture of visuals that are breathtaking, but not much is done with it, due to the lack of wacky situations (except one part of the movie). It feels a bit disappointing and boring, that when finally Pixar releases a movie with such visuals, it does not go over the top. Especially with a movie about racing cars, and in fact was disappointed that not much was done regarding exciting scenes or visuals.
The music and audio for the movie are just okay, and while Randy Newman did compose the soundtrack for the movie that also felt forgettable and by the numbers. It is not terrible however the presentation (even if it is photorealistic), and the music are simply average.
A final lap
Cars 3 is an okay movie, with stellar visuals, and a plot that tries to be deep, but stumbles along the way due to the dialogue. In the end, it is still an enjoyable movie, just people should not expect the usual Pixar quality, compared to their older works it is much more straightforward.