Cars 3 and the Problem With Pixar Sequels
I went to see Cars 3 today, but it was almost out of a sense of loyalty as a Disney fan to see it and not because I actually wanted to see it. But, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by it. I'm not sure if my expectations were just that low or if I actually enjoyed the film. Probably a little bit of both.
Before I get too deep into this, I want to warn that, while this is not a full review of Cars 3, per say, there might be SPOILERS for this...or any other Pixar sequel for that matter. So, consider yourself warned.
I don't mean to get down on Cars 3 because I actually did enjoy the film. I liked the fact that women were included in racing and I liked the overall message. But did I feel it entirely necessary? No. And that's my problem with the Pixar sequels. Is there any real reason for any of them? Actually, I have one caveat - I did think the Toy Story trilogy was a necessary one to tell the complete story of toys during their life with one owner. That is why I am so against the fourth sequel because I can't imagine them improving upon that trilogy, especially given the limited synopsis they've given us.
Now, Cars 3 I felt was a better attempt at continuing the story of the original film - much moreso than Cars 2 which just felt like an overly long Mater's Tall Tale (BTW, I love the shorts). I liked the fact that, like in the Toy Story trilogy, there was a handing off of the torch. But, it didn't feel as natural a transition. Like the other Pixar sequels, this one feels like it sacrifices writing for the sake of using beloved characters again because people like the characters. This is how I felt about Monsters University and Finding Dory.
And what was ironic is that I felt Pixar was almost scolding itself for making the film. The new owner of Rusteze, the sponsor for Lightning McQueen, wants to brand and market the Lightning instead of appreciating him for the race car he is. That's how I felt about Cars 3. It's wanting to market toys rather than really fleshing out these characters even more.
While I liked Cruz Ramirez, Lightning's trainer who dreams of being a race car herself, I felt she kept bludgeoning me with the words "I'm the new race car to market! Here is my journey!"
And while the sequels are told in an entertaining way, I feel they suck away the inovation that Pixar is known for. Like it no longer trusts the audiences to watch the film and understand, through amazing storytelling, why we love Pixar films. We loved the first film not because of the racing (maybe some people did. But not me), but because of the charming town of Radiator Springs and all its inhabitants. Its about slowing down and not speeding up. If that can't be improved upon, I just don't feel the story needs to be told.