Flaw­less an­i­ma­tion in a poignant se­quel – even if di­rec­tor and team don’t rein­vent the steer­ing wheel

Bray People - - ENTERTAINMENT -

CARS 3 (U)

SUC­CESS and fail­ure are two sides of the same shiny coin.

To truly ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­hil­a­ra­tion of win­ning, you also have to ex­pe­ri­ence crush­ing dis­ap­point­ment and then muster the strength of char­ac­ter to try again, even if it ends in more pain.

As one turbo-charged char­ac­ter in di­rec­tor Brian Fee’s well-oiled road movie pro­claims: ‘You can use any­thing neg­a­tive as fuel to push through to the pos­i­tive’.

The com­puter an­i­ma­tion wizards at Dis­ney Pixar have been blaz­ing a trail to the pos­i­tive since their wildly imag­i­na­tive de­but, Toy Story.

This sec­ond se­quel to the 2006 comin­gof-age com­edy Cars is un­likely to tar­nish the stu­dio’s golden lus­tre, con­tin­u­ing the mis­ad­ven­tures of an­thro­po­mor­phised ve­hi­cles, who or­bit cham­pi­onship rac­ing car Light­ning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wil­son).

Themes of self-sac­ri­fice and per­se­ver­ance are pumped into the film’s fuel tank, and are re­flected in writer-di­rec­tor Dave Mullins’s heart­break­ing com­puter-an- imated short film Lou, which pre­cedes the main fea­ture.

Three scriptwrit­ers jump­start what ap­pears to be a con­ven­tional come­back story but take us on a sur­pris­ingly dif­fer­ent emo­tional jour­ney that leaves the boot un­locked for fur­ther in­stal­ments of the fran­chise.

Cars 3 be­gins in fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory with Light­ning screech­ing to vic­tory in the Pis­ton Cup un­til cock­sure rookie Jack­son Storm (Ar­mie Ham­mer) steals his thun­der.

‘I can’t be­lieve I got to race Light­ning McQueen in his farewell sea­son!’ ar­ro­gantly whoops Storm.

A high-speed col­li­sion wrecks Light­ning’s chances of re­tain­ing his crown and he re­tires to Ra­di­a­tor Springs in the com­pany of tow truck Mater (Larry The Ca­ble Guy) and his sweet­heart Sally (Bon­nie Hunt).

Fond mem­o­ries of men­tor Doc Hud­son (Paul New­man) com­pel Light­ning to hit the come­back trail and he heads to the Rust-eze Rac­ing Cen­ter owned by Ster­ling (Nathan Fil­lion), ‘ the mud flap king of the east­ern seaboard’.

Ster­ling as­signs trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cris­tela Alonzo) to im­prove Light­ning’s speed and stamina.

‘I call you my se­nior project,’ af­fec­tion­ately jokes Cruz.

With a piv­otal race in Florida loom­ing on the hori­zon, Light­ning and Cruz forego last minute tweaks to track down Doc’s revered men­tor, Smokey (Chris Cooper).

En route, they take part in a mud-spat­tered de­mo­li­tion derby against school bus Miss Frit­ter (Lea DeLaria) and learn price­less se­crets from vet­eran cars River Scott (Isiah Whit­lock Jr) and Louise ‘Barn­stormer’ Nash (Margo Martin­dale).

Cars 3 is the most poignant film in the se­ries, strik­ing a pleas­ing bal­ance be­tween heart­felt sen­ti­ment, belly laughs and daz­zling artistry.

The qual­ity of the an­i­ma­tion is flaw­less, in­clud­ing pris­tine re­flected sur­faces in high-speed races and some cute vis­ual gags.

Ad­mit­tedly, di­rec­tor Fee and his team don’t rein­vent the steer­ing wheel but they do man­age to tinge even the most colour-sat­u­rated scenes with aching sad­ness and a wist­ful yearn­ing for the sim­ple plea­sures of the past.

RAT­ING: 6/10

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