Time, it seems, is always on the wrong side of young cinema geeks. It’s been more than ten years since the original Cars – a film about the passage of time and how things change without being under your control.
It was a sweet and sensitive film under the guise of a brash racing comedy. The sequel, Cars 2 abandoned the message of time and turned out to be a soulless, disappointing ‘Minions’ like over the top visual comedy with no real sense of purpose.
Cars 3, fortunately, turns things around and delivers a story with the beating heart and the spirit of the original. Time, it seems is a flat circle.
Directed by first timer Brian Fee who is a veteran Pixar storyboard artist, Cars 3 may feel familiar to the fans of the first film, but in a good way. While the franchise has never been as much about the story as it is about selling branded toys, Fee does a fairly good job of executing a compelling story about talking cars.
We’re reintroduced to Lightning McQueen (Wilson) who is enjoying his time being a racing legend. Things quickly go wrong as McQueen chances upon Jackson Storm (Hammer), an arrogant and ridiculously fast young racer who leaves his opponents in a trail of smoke. McQueen then gets embroiled in a fiery crash and is sent to a rehab center to process his sudden fall from grace.
Pixar once again proves that they’re the only animation studio consistently capable of making films that can connect with children and adults alike. While kids will be entertained by all the colorful racing imagery and the physical comedy, there are a few decent one-liners for adults to chuckle at. The level of animation, even though expected from Pixar, is just insane.
The company is now closer than ever to genuine photo realistic animation. The backgrounds in the racing sequences are so beautifully rendered it’s some times difficult to make out if they’re animated or set against real locations. The races, though the entertaining highlight of the film are still secondary to McQueen’s character moments where he’s struggling to rediscover his strength.
The narrative is also carefully crafted to gently tap into adults’ nostalgia, a reminder of how different (and probably better) their life was when they watched the first movie ten years ago.
Themes such as dealing with a mid life crisis, facing the threat of younger and more talented people taking your place, coming to terms with the constant risk of ageing and recognizing ones limits are themes easily digestible for people in their thirties who grew up watching the Pixar movies, so props to Cars 3 for addressing these things without hammering them onto the screen. At many places the film almost feels like an apology from Pixar for forcing us to watch the previous movie.
There are also a few celebrity cameos but those into F1 will miss Michael Schumacher’s little turn in the original movie. A sequel is never as welcome as a Pixar original, but with a film this good it’s hard to complain.
Much like McQueen, we need to accept the reality and look at the brighter side – that Cars 3 is going to be the sequel that will pump in enough money for Pixar to make more original films in the next few years. And with less Mator around, it seems the future is bright.