Genre: CG Animation
Director: Brian Fee
Cast: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Bonnie Hunt, Chris Cooper, Kerry Washington, Lea DeLaria, Tony Shalhoub, Katherine Helmond, Cheech Marin, Paul Dooley, Larry the Cable Guy, Paul Newman
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Released By: The Walt Disney Company
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/PixarCars
Opening Day: 31 August 2017
Synopsis: Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn't through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing's biggest stage!
The apprentice has turned master in this latest instalment of Star Wars… wait a minute we mean the third entry to Pixar’s money-churning franchise, Cars. After the widely panned Cars 2 (possibly Pixar’s worst effort to date but nevertheless profitable), original franchise director John Lasseter made way for storyboard artist turned director Brian Fee to helm Cars 3 which actually turned out to be very much a blessing in disguise.
Fee and his team of writers including Pixar regular, Bob Peterson returned the franchise to it’s roots instead of making it yet another, globe-trotting far-stretched espionage comedy starring Mater the tow truck. After being a seven-time Piston Cup winner, ex-rookie Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is fast losing his mojo as a next generation racer; Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) threatened to upstage him at the racing track. After a subsequent violent crash, McQueen returned to Radiator Springs to recover while Storm continues to dominate the track. Without the presence of his trusty mentor, Doc Hudson (the late Paul Newman makes a comeback via archive recordings), McQueen must decide either to carry on racing or throw in the towel liked his fellow peers.
A good story makes you resonates with the characters and movie. Cars 2 unfortunately never accomplished that. Right here, we see the struggles of everyone’s favourite racecar, Lightning McQueen as he attempts to cope with state-of-the-art technology such as a racing stimulator and limitations of his aging machinery. A cockier rookie has replaced the once arrogant cocky rookie as seen in the first one. It’s constantly engaging not because of the slick animation or slapstick moments but the torment of reality. It possessed a strong message and a grand salute to the original movie that you won’t feel letdown by the time the credits rolled.
Cars 3 surprisingly also eschew the heavy usage of juvenile humour and sight gags and opted for more heartfelt storytelling despite being a title that is hugely popular with kids. We all know the first two especially the second delivers truckload of them but Cars 3 mirrors the first one in balancing the action and humour quotient that it satisfies both the kids and adults demographics in the end. Of course, that’s not to say this third chapter is going all dark and dry, there’s still a loud, nonsensical detour to a dirt track named Thunder Hollow where our heroes encounter a crazy school bus, Miss Fritter (Lea Delaria from Orange is the New Black).
Joining the franchise is stand up comedian Cristela Alonzo who voiced Cruz Ramirez, a trainer hired by brilliant businesscar Sterling Dunn (Firefly’s Nathan Fillion) to train McQueen but secretly harboring the ambition of being a racer. The introduction of Cruz Ramirez is primarily the reason why Cars 3 turned out so well and poignant in the closing chapter. To avoid spoiler, let’s just say it’s sort of a Rocky Balboa moment. McQueen’s racing rival, Jackson Storm suffers the same fate as ex-rival Chick Hicks, another one-dimensional antagonist that never receives much screentime. Chris Cooper also appears as the voice of Hudson’s former crew chief, Smokey. With the exception of Sally, Guido, Luigi and Mater, the rest of the townies of Radiator Springs only appear briefly onscreen. At least we have less Mater this time.
There’s absolutely no lack of authentic racing moments as CG technology has certainly buff up since 2006. The animation is once again solid and amazing and you certainly needs a THX certified theater to busk yourself in with all the incredible sound design. Thanks to all the creative genius at Pixar, we are sure you will marvel at all the sleek, high-tech looking cars on display.
Cars 3 works because it pays more attention to storytelling instead of merchandising this time. It’s not necessary the best or second best (or even third best) Pixar movie ever but it’s right on track to become a title that has replay value. Less Mater is always a welcome. The funny hats don’t exactly help either.
(We proudly declare that the COE of the CARS franchise can be extended by at least five more years)
Review by Linus Tee