Cars 3: Film Review
Cast: Owen Wilson, Nathan Fillion, Armie Hammer, Cristela Alonzo,
Director: Brian Fee
That a large thread of Cars 3 is spent with Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen's dilemma over how to stay relevant in the face of zippier competition can't be lost on those of us who feel that Pixar's Cars franchise has critically struggled.
Never quite firing on all cylinders, the series is back to relative amiable form in this latest which sees Lightning McQueen's old racing ways fail to have him against new tech and cars like Jackson Storm (Hammer). In a nod perhaps to how Formula 1 these days is all about the technology rather than the driving, McQueen's forced to go back to basics and attend an upskilling centre run by Fillion's Sterling and under the tutelage of Cruz (Alonzo).
But will it be enough to help McQueen to both move on and win again?
There's a definite feeling of passing the torch here in the overly literal trappings of Cars 3.
With a nod to the past and Paul Newman's racer as well as the embracing of the newer way of doing things, and avoiding the fear of the new, Cars 3 hits the ground running, even if it does feel like it could ease up on some of the messaging that's ramraided home repeatedly.
However, its desire to champion women and give girls the feeling of empowerment is something akin to what Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman has already achieved this year. By forcing Cruz to embrace her dream and never settle for second best, the film's desire to ensure the right message gets out there is both bold and admirable.
Sure, the racing looks slick and there's an undeniable sheen in the polish that the animation carries, but there's little else under the hood for Cars to roll out except its amiable intentions and fair aspirations. Everything looks great and there's no sign that Pixar's decided to drop the quality for the third of the series in terms of the animation, but the relatively straight story-telling means it's one of the more humour free entrants into Pixar's canon which is a real shame.
All in all, Cars 3 is nothing more than pleasant - with its simple story worryingly showing there's maybe less in the tank, but its important message it gets the job done on the track but it's far from the convincing victory it really should have been.