IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 107 mins
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
As the Piston Cup season progresses, Lightning McQueen, now a seven-time Piston Cup racing legend, finds himself overshadowed by Jackson Storm, an arrogant rookie who belongs to a new generation of racers that use the latest technology to improve their performance. Lightning’s fellow veterans either retire or are fired by their sponsors, to be replaced by new-generation racers. During the final race of the season, he loses control and suffers a violent, nearly fatal rollover crash, leaving him badly injured. Not wanting to be forced into retirement as his mentor Doc was, he decides to start training again, looking for new ways to regain his edge, and finds that Rusty and Dusty, the owners of Lightning’s Rust-eze racing team, have sold Rust-eze to new owner Sterling, who assigns him to work with trainer Cruz Ramirez. Even worse, Sterling wants to take him off the racing circuit and use him for product endorsements….
Neither Cars nor Cars 2 fared very well with critics, but kids tend to love them [talking vehicles with eyes, what could be more appealing to a little boy?], and I rather enjoyed them myself, the sequel in my opinion doing well in being very different to the original. It was Pixar’s first commercial disappointment though, which may be why Cars 3 pretends that Cars 2 never happened. It also seems like a bid for more critical respectability, with themes of aging, mortality and obsolescence, less laughs [Mater’s hardly in it], and a new major female character [it won’t be long before white male heroes will be entirely a thing of the past for Disney] just to be PC. Unfortunately, this means that the film is too deep and downbeat for many young kids, kids who are not quite ready for, say, Up! or Inside Out but who would eat up the simple fun of a Cars film. There was quite a bit of shuffling and talking at the fairly full showing I attended. And, while the message about knowing when to pass the torch may be commendable, the film does it in such a way as to seem like it’s also trying to shove a defeatist message at people, which is just ridiculous and concerning. Almost nothing is original in the storyline either, which is cobbled together from a variety of sports movies including at least a couple of Rockys.
And yet, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get entertainment value from the film. Even though I feel it lacks the genuine heart of the first movie where the emotional beasts didn’t seem so forced, certain moments are more moving than you’d expect given that we’re talking about living cars here, the several race sequences are genuinely exciting, and the level of texture and detail has reached quite phenomenal standards. Some shots do look genuinely photo-realistic. There’s also a great eye for odd detail [love the band!], though things do sometimes seem rather creepy this time round, and I wish that the film could have gone into the background of its actually rather [when you think about it] nightmarish dystopian reality rather than leaving us adults with lots of questions, such as, when McQueen and Ramirez inadvertently enter a demolition derby and have to survive aginst a suped-up school bus, why does the school bus exist in the first place considering there are no humans in this world? Cars 3 is technically superb no doubt, at times but doesn’t appear to have been really thought through [it even misquotes things from Cars] and is easily the least of the three Cars films.