'Cars 3' review: Lackluster sequel
MANILA, Philippines – In a way, Brian Fee’s Cars 3 sees the most maligned Pixar franchise come full circle after the 2011 sequel that had race cars and tow trucks awkwardly tour the world as undercover spies.
This third part is firmly rooted on what made the original Cars affecting despite its many misgivings.
This one, like the first film, is all about the act of reminiscing and letting go, with the franchise’s hero, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), now faced with the dilemma that he isn’t the racer that he was when Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) took him under his wing. He is on his way to becoming a thing of the past after a series of races that saw him losing to faster and newer cars.
The story is truly a clever way to bring back the series to its humble beginnings, when it wasn’t so beholden to blockbuster trends of spies and macho action and was all about what Pixar truly specialized on, which is the utility of cutting edge spectacle-making to have its audience remember their simpler pasts and childhood.
So after a montage of dazzlingly crafted races that end up with McQueen close to being demolished, Cars 3 slows down, patiently reintroducing itself not as a bombardment of slick noise and colors but as a pastiche of properly introduced characters who have real motivations. There are a few jokes being cracked here and there, and a demolition derby that is quite a riot to watch, but most of the film is loose and laidback, more a collection of McQueen in moments of self-discovery and introspection than in action.
This is where the problem arises.
Cars 3 is essentially the first Cars told not from the perspective of the upstart but of the oldie that is fearing obsolescence. It is also a million of other things. It is all the Rocky movies up to Creed, with its championing of the underdog. It is all the Sister Act movies, with its message of empowerment whatever gender or race you belong to. It is a hodgepodge of inspirational films and in all its earnest effort to be simply pleasant, it forgets to be thoroughly enjoyable.
Fee does a good job in balancing the silly design of the cars with the photorealistic backgrounds. Cars 3 is always easy on the eyes. However, it just doesn’t connect fully. It aims to please too many audiences to amount to anything substantial and what is left really is a film that is fragmented beyond recognition.
Time to retire
When a film starts to feel like it has been running far too long on a repetitive highway, the only reason is that it is far too lost to find its way back. Cars 3 isn’t exactly a bad film, but it is mediocre enough to signal the fact that it is about time that the franchise retire. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.