Review: The animation puts it in pole position but Cars 3 stalls on the grid

Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) in Cars 3. Picture: Dis

Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) in Cars 3. Picture: Disney Pixar - Credit: Archant

The glory days of Pixar's first 10 films – the almost unbroken ascension from Toy Story to Up – seem a distant memory as this third sequel offers little new to grab your attention.

Cars 3 (U)

**

I spent a lot of time during the latest installment of Pixar's living racing car series marvelling at the quality of the animation. This was because there was almost nothing else to grab your attention.

After the overblown spy drama approach of Cars 2, this returns the series to the folksy, be true-to-yourself race car drama of the original.


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The glory days of Pixar's first 10 films – the almost unbroken ascension from Toy Story to Up – when they lorded it over all the other animation companies (indeed, most other film makers) is a distant memory.

Now they are scrapping away down in the bear pit with all the other animators and no longer seem like anything special.

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At one point aging ace racer Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), pondering marketing opportunities for after his retirement says 'I've never thought of myself as a brand.'

A cheeky little quip really, because on the evidence of this, Lucrative Marketing Brand rather than Endearing Loveable Creation is entirely how Pixar think of him.

These films exist to sell Toys. Very fine toys I grant you; I remember buying my nephew a Lightning McQueen model for Christmas and thinking that that was a proper, quality toy that he will get loads of use out of. And he did. But couldn't a little effort be put into the accompanying promotional material?

The car racing scenes are great spectacles but any scene not involving racing is just time passing. There are episodes of Top Gear less motor vehicle orientated than this.

There's a whole minute where they talk about the effects of aerodynamic and down draft on the cars' performance. There's a moderately inventive ending, but precious little wit, imagination or excitement on show.

Cars is also the most insular, America First, of Pixar's creations. It's a celebration of American resources, speed and power; and the wonders of the American landscape.

In Cars 3 it seems like the entire country is made up of grand canyons, Monument valleys and enormous banked oval race circuits.

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