Review: ‘Cars 3’ is Far From Disney’s Best; It Isn’t Bad Either

“Speed. I am Speed. Faster than fast, quicker than quick.” On this familiar monologue delivered by Owen Wilson, ‘Cars 3’ opens. The film has sort of homage feel to it, the story starts out off as a tale of redemption, an aging McQueen, trying to compete against younger, quicker racers, rookies who are replacing the older race cars in the game.

There are a number of new characters, that haven’t appeared in the first two parts, who play key roles in the film. A notable addition would be Cristela Alonzo, voicing Cruz Ramirez, whose cheerful attitude does brighten up some of the otherwise dull moments in the film. I couldn’t care much for most of the other new additions, however, they seem disconnected from the film and you can’t bring yourself to feel anything for them.

The first half of ‘Cars 3’ is a textbook Pixar-Disney film, you have the hit-or-miss comedy, the emotional moments and the crisp dialogue. The animators are at their best as they usually are, the visuals are stunning and the landscape looks almost realistic at times. It was also fun to see how technological advancements have changed the ‘Cars’ world, the race simulator sequence involving Lightning McQueen  and the ‘personal voice assistant’ of Cruz Ramirez were almost a parody of how technology has affected our lives today.

A major problem with the film was the fact that it had so many obvious fillers. The plot was definitely empty and could have done with the addition of sub-plots, something which the first film did quite successfully. Some scenes just seem totally unrelated to the story line and even though this is acceptable for a kids movie, there is a limit to the number of meaningless sequences you can stuff into a movie before even the kids start to catch on. There is even an oddly disturbing scene where McQueen and Cruz enter a ‘Death Race’ by accident where cars attack each other and the last man standing wins the race.

Some have complained that the premise is a little too ‘mature’, the fact that McQueen is too old and cannot compete with the modern race cars is not something kids can relate to. I wholeheartedly agree, the premise could have definitely been changed or improved, we’ve all seen similar stories in television shows or in movies about people working in corporate offices.

Even though the film has a modest duration of just a little over 100 minutes, it feels slow at times, which is definitely not a good sign when you’re watching an animation film. I would have really preferred that more screen time be given to characters like Sally and Mater who lit the first part up with their antics and had the audience in a hysterical state. It is sad to say that they are reduced to supporting cast in the third film.

I couldn’t care less about the climax, I think that the filmmakers intended for a twist ending that would surprise anyone but this was just downright ridiculous. It’s definitely not something you’d want to see after watching McQueen train hard for 90 minutes and try to make a career-defining comeback. Perhaps political correctness is what the movie makers were trying to go for? Either way, the climax ruins any chance this movie had of being half decent.

The soundtrack is pretty average as well. Unlike the iconic ‘Life is a Highway’ song in the first part, there are no notable instances where the music or score dictates the flow of the film.

‘Cars’ was never Disney’s strongest series. The first part, however, did manage to be a heartfelt and entertaining story for kids and adults alike. The second part was an absolute let-down. The third part might be considered slightly better than the second but definitely not by much. It undoes many of the strong inspiring messages it sent in the first part and ends on a pretty depressing note.

The major problem with ‘Cars 3’ is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. A tale of redemption? A tale of youth power? A tale about girl power? As it doesn’t prioritise what it is going for, it ends up being the jack of all trades but the master of none.

There were some refreshing scenes in the movie however, a notable mention would be the beach racing scene where McQueen and Cruz begin their outdoor training. While the scene in itself would be considered a filler, it had me chuckling throughout and was a lighter moment in the film. There are also some moments, including the opening sequence which will have a nostalgic effect on you, taking you right back to the original film.

If, by chance, the makers decide to make another installment in the series, they need to make sure that the movie is set in Radiator Springs, the town we fell in love with in 2006, the limited scenes set in this town in ‘Cars 3’ are among the few redeeming qualities of the film. However, I’m pretty sure this is the end of the ‘Cars’ franchise and despite having fond memories of the first film, all I can say is good riddance.

Rating: 2.5/5