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Cars 3 - Review

Cars 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE third film in Disney-Pixar’s Cars franchise is a back-to-basics journey of sorts, which reverts back to a more old-fashioned style of storytelling while also still managing to embrace some contemporary thinking.

But while entertaining enough for its target audience, Brian Fee’s three-quel never really stretches itself beyond the expected. Hence, while amiable when taken on its own terms, the film does still lack the ingenuity, adventurous spirit or innovation of this animated company at its very best.

Indeed, there’s more ‘risk’ and out of the box thinking in the accompanying short, Lou, which is another winning entry onto Pixar’s short animation CV.

Eschewing the globe-trotting, spy-referencing excess of Cars 2, this third entry finds Lightning McQueen (once again voiced by Owen Wilson) contemplating the passage of time. A new breed of race car is stealing a march on the old-timers, led by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), by winning races almost at a canter.

When McQueen crashes, in one of the movie’s standout technical moments, it seems his career is over. But with the help of an unlikely trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), McQueen attempts to recover his spirit and make an unlikely comeback.

Fee, who previously worked as a storyboard artist on Ratatouille and the two previous Cars films, makes his directorial debut in solid fashion, delivering a movie that’s as much a love-letter to traditional values as it is a continuing salute to classic Americana and the value of loyalty and friendship.

The emphasis here is on camaraderie, with McQueen’s character once again having to swallow personal pride in order to better himself and his career prospects; albeit, this time, having to work with a female trainer who, herself, harbours long-lost racing ambitions.

The interplay between the two of them, while predictable, is amiable enough and extols a lot of the kind of classic values that have become more reduced to the sidelines in more action-orientated family films.

Yet there’s fun and excitement, too, with a beach training session rife with smiles and a demolition derby packed with child-friendly car-nage.

It’s just a shame that Fee (and Pixar as a whole) haven’t chosen to take a few more chances, stripping away any real emotional complexity (McQueen’s psychological recovery is glossed over when it could have been given more time a la Inside Out, while Storm’s villain isn’t given much of a presence), and failing to bring much edge to the climactic race.

Indeed, it’s a failing of the film as a whole that the longer it lasts, the more predictable it becomes with even a last act surprise pretty much sign-posted along the way.

Taken at face value (and there’s no real scratching beneath the surface here) Cars 3 does everything that’s expected and not much more. But it’s good at what it does do and keeps its youngest fans entertained.

Certificate: U
Running time: 1hr 49mins
UK Release Date: July 14, 2017