SHOCK AB­SORBER

Di­rec­tor Brian Fee ex­plains why Cars 3 won’t be quite as har­row­ing as its trailer

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN

IT’S FAIR TO say, no-one saw the new Cars 3 trailer com­ing. Skip­ping comic beats en­tirely, it showed Pixar’s doughty red stock car Light­ning Mcqueen (voiced by Owen Wil­son) spi­ralling through the air and be­ing scat­tered across the track. It was dark. Very dark. And hugely pop­u­lar. Within a week it racked up 40 mil­lion Youtube views, while the film’s Face­book page was abuzz with freaked-out fans. Two of the calmer posts read: “OMG, I can’t let my kids see this trailer!” and “Why so dark ????? ” Par­ents were rush­ing to re­as­sure their chil­dren that their hero wasn’t about to put the ‘rev’ into The Revenant.

“The re­ac­tion I hear most is that this was not what peo­ple were ex­pect­ing,” says di­rec­tor Brian Fee, with some un­der­state­ment. “But I’ve not per­son­ally heard of any dis­traught chil­dren.” While the trailer’s ve­hic­u­lar car­nage will ap­pear in the movie, the for­mer sto­ry­board artist-turned-di­rec­tor is at pains to point out that “it’s not the bit­ter end” for Mcqueen. “He doesn’t die,” Fee stresses. “He’s at a place where he can’t do the things he used to do and he’s go­ing to have to fig­ure out, ‘How do I get back to where I was?’”

Help­ing him on this Rocky-like come­back trail is a new, so-far un­cast char­ac­ter called Cruz Ramirez. “She’s youth­ful, fun and ex­tremely pos­i­tive,” ex­plains Fee, “some­times to a point of mak­ing him feel even older. The last thing he wants is to be paired against a su­per-pos­i­tive per­son who doesn’t un­der­stand what he’s go­ing through.” Yes, Light­ning Mcqueen is hav­ing a midlife cri­sis.

The film’s tagline — “From this mo­ment, ev­ery­thing will change” — hints at a change of course not just for its hero, but the fran­chise it­self. Cars 2, a globe-trot­ting race movie with a spy caper built in, took $560 mil­lion at the box of­fice de­spite mixed re­views. The third part, though, prom­ises a re­turn to the more emo­tional story beats of the first movie. “When you watch

Cars 1,” says Fee, “you feel like these are real peo­ple who have real prob­lems. That’s cer­tainly what we’re back to. It’s less car­toony. We want to put some­thing out there that ev­ery­one can re­late to on some level.” Of course, not ev­ery­one has drunk the Cars Kool-aid, de­spite the for­mi­da­ble grosses. Pixar, though, is promis­ing some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent this time for the yet-to-be-con­verted. Strap in, says Fee, it’ll be worth the ride. “I’m happy with the way the teaser turned out. It said: ‘There’s a Cars 3 com­ing and it’s prob­a­bly not what you think it is.’”

CARS 3 IS IN CIN­E­MAS FROM 14 JULY

Light­ning’s fate­ful crash. Be­low: Pixar’s favourite auto in hap­pier mo­ments...

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