When “Cars” first sped onto the silver screen, people were pretty split about it-some liked it, most don’t. Then “Cars 2” came along and it was pretty much a GIANT FREAKING MIDDLE FINGER from Pixar to those who love animation, film, and that studio. So when it was announced that “Cars 3” was making it’s way to theaters, people were understandably nervous. But then the trailers showing McQueen’s wreck and the aftermath appeared…And…Is “Cars 3” the redemption we’ve been looking for?
Plot: Racing legend Lightning McQueen finds himself blindsided by the next generation. After Lightning suffers a nasty wreck similar to both The King and Doc Hudson, he goes on a journey to prepare for the Florida 500, with help from his personal trainer Cruz Ramirez, the Legends, and his memories of The Fabulous Hudson Hornet.
- The CHARACTERS
- Here the movie turns the focus back to Lightning McQueen, who you immediately tell from the first few sentences in the film is older, wiser, but still McQueen in essence; he’s not one to say “no” to pranking his racing buddies Bobby Swift and Cal Weathers. He’s a bit more interesting here than in the first film, yet still a bit of a blank enough slate to be a good audience avatar. Cruz Ramirez starts off pretty annoying, but about at the halfway point you start to like her a bit and root for her as well as Lightning. Mater takes a complete backseat in this film thank GOD. The Legends-Smokey, Midnight, Louise and River are cool as well; it’s interesting to meet Doc’s teacher and watch Lightning learn from him.
- The ANIMATION
- This is nothing new with Pixar animation-even their lower films; “The Good Dinosaur”, “Cars 2”, “Brave” all films aren’t as highly regarded as Pixar’s others, but their animation is still stunningly beautiful to look at. Here it’s no exception. The artwork in the backgrounds, and even on the characters is great. McQueen gets several makeovers in the film-an electronic finish, his Corvette inspired looks, and a VERY touching look by the end of the film. It also looks as if they got better animating the expressions on the cars’ faces. It doesn’t look SO odd anymore…Or maybe I’m just used to how wide their mouths can get.
- The STORY
- The story is kind of basic, but the simplicity of it makes it work. It’s like Rocky meets Creed. I say that, because when you hear in the trailers and read in the basic plot that Cruz Ramirez has had racing dreams of her own, you can piece together just why so many say it’s a mix of Creed and Rocky. It’s an underdog story, along with a story of learning to pass the torch along. You understand Lightning’s fear of becoming like his late mentor Doc Hudson-the fact that he gave up his win in the 06 movie to ensure The King didn’t suffer that same fate shows that what happened to Hudson truly stuck with him. And yet he uses his time with Hudson as motivation to win.
- On that note, getting to learn more about Doc is certainly a treat as he’s quite a mystery in the first film. He’s kind of that stereotypical grumpy veteran who learns a few things from Lightning while teaching Lightning as well. You really truly get to understand just what both meant to each other here-not through words, not through speeches of how important one is, but through pictures, mostly silent flashbacks, and the animation on McQueen and Hudson through those flashbacks.
- The story is heartfelt, and you feel like they understood where they went wrong with movie 2, and this was most certainly an apology for their lack of a Paul Newman tribute in the second and an apology for the second film as a whole. “Cars” is a story of racing, so why they decided to make a spy movie and put racing in the background no one knows. But either way, the story here is heartfelt, simple, and clean-if you want to know how to write a screenplay, watch this film-it well and truly follows the simple 3 act structure.
- The VOICE ACTING
- Everyone does a fine enough job with their voice acting here.
- The PACING
- The first half of the movie IS indeed quite slow. After Lightning’s wreck, it’s a pretty slow burn until the crew get to Doc’s old racetrack. Then once Smokey, Doc Hudson’s old crew chief, starts training McQueen, the movie picks up to a considerable pace. But when I eventually get this movie on Blu-Ray or Digital Download, I know I’ll fast forward to just after the Demolition Derby-I’d say spoilers but that scene is clearly in the trailers.
- The Villain
- There’s a saying in film-you’re hero is only as strong as your villain. If your villain can transform into a fire breathing dragon by calling upon hell itself, you should have a pretty great hero to combat that. In this new Disney Renaissance, it seems like the focus is on the hero’s journey, and if there’s a villain….eh whatever alright. Here’s no different. Jackson Storm is pretty much your generic jerk-like how McQueen was in the beginning of “Cars” but worse. He’s really the only downside of the film. He provides some good competition and a threat to McQueen, but they could’ve done him a bit better.
It seems as though Pixar is completely wiping the slate clean with this film-it’s a total apology for “Cars 2”; Mater is pushed to the background, with the focus on a veteran McQueen facing his twilight years as a racer. You feel for the stock car-much more than in the first film. For him the stakes are actually high and meaningful. The characters he encounters are memorable and enjoyable for the most part-mainly Smokey Doc’s mentor and Cruz-Sterling is insufferable. The pacing has a few issues, there’s only one main subplot, which doesn’t detract too much from the film, and McQueen’s character arc gets a touching and fitting end. You also get nice closure for Doc Hudson which is something you don’t realize you wanted until you actually experience it-when you see how much he meant to Lightning, you appreciate him all the more. It can be predictable, but it’s still enjoyable as well.
“Cars 3” gets a 3.5/5 from me- while the film fishtails here and there, Pixar manages to settle back into place, and kicked it into high gear with this one. It’s a fine film that’s MUCH more enjoyable than the second, and improves on the first.
Cars 3 is slowly creeping up on us (and it ACTUALLY looks really good holy crap) so I figure I should take a look at the WORST Pixar movie out there….as in ever.
Plot: When Lightning gets invited to the World Grand Prix he takes along Mater the Tow Truck…And they somehow get involved in a secret spy mission dealing with gasoline vs energy efficient fuel and….yeah oh boy.
- The ANIMATION
- If there’s even a BAD Pixar movie, at least there’s this-they do have STELLAR animation. That’s the case here. The movie itself, is not really that good. But the animation is fine. But that’s because it’s Pixar. I wonder if this were a DreamWorks or Blue Sky movie if people would even say that about this film.
- The RACES
- When the movie focuses on LIGHTNING and the races, it actually gets a bit interesting. But….Lightning is sadly kind of shoved off to the side.
- The PACING
- The pacing isn’t really BAD….But god it’s just boring. Spy cars…..yeah that makes sense. TOTAL sense. Whenever it’s not on the race you want to fast forward it to the races. And then the races are too fast and quick and before you know it it’s over. Which is a bummer because we actually get to see Lightning race on dirt roads but….for like a second. Damn.
- The CHARACTERS
- The new guys are ok….Mater is annoying as hell. Lightning is the just average nice guy now that he’s learned his lesson of learning to take things slow. Mater is just way too in your face. If you don’t like Larry the Cable Guy then you don’t like Mater. Just a hard truth. And guess who the main character is? Not the red hot shot in the FRONT of this movie’s poster. NO. It’s Larry the Tow Truck. Ugh. And the villain sucks. Like….he’s so forgettable. And Doc is just like “eh….he’s not around anymore…..well that sucks…..ONTO SHENANIGANS!”
- The PLOT
- Boy…..Spies with cars. If they had just kept it to the World Grand Prix that would’ve been interesting enough-traveling the world, seeing new sights…..But no. We have an environmental movie about spy cars. We all get it-we’re screwing over the planet and it’s gonna be royally mucked by the next 100 years or so………..And maybe not even that. But good GOD if you’re not a toddler this movie is just BORING. And it doesn’t make sense. You’re basically watching Larry the Cable Truck bumble around as a spy even though he’s not a spy, and trying to keep his friendship with Lightning but…..ugh. But the first and third movies have NOTHING to do with spies. And there’s like a point where there’s a character killed off in a rather violent way. And…..It’s kind of a waste of time and money. Especially since again………THE FIRST AND THIRD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SPY NONSENSE. The most this movie has to offer, is neat racing stuff for your kid when he needs to be baby sat by Uncle Television. Dammit Pixar you’re better than this B.S.
Everyone says “Cars 2” sucks and….yeah compared to the first it really does. Compared to most animated films it does. It doesn’t hold up to the standards of good films, even when you take off the Pixar label it has. And when that film HAS the Pixar name on it….it doesn’t even reach “watch it on tv when you’re bored” status. I bet if those who watch “Cars 3” don’t watch this…They wouldn’t miss a god damn thing. Which is a shame because Pixar is so much better than this nonsense. The voice acting is fine, the animation is pretty, and the racing stuff is neat. Everything else that you need to work in order to make a good movie…..that all sucks. There’s nothing inherently BAD for kids but….It’s just dull. I think “Cars 3” could be better-it certainly looks like they’re actually trying to finish up Lightning’s story (hell trying to make a GOOD story to begin with) with this one but….It doesn’t take much to be better with this film.
“Cars 2” gets a 2/5 from me-it’s pretty to look at but….it’s basically only there for when it comes to kids who need to be watched by the TV.
Time for that question….What’s your LEAST favorite Pixar movie? There’s gotta be some you don’t like that much. Let me know in the comments.
13 years ago, Pixar released (to me) it’s all time greatest film; Finding Nemo. Toy Story had set the bar and Nemo had completely surpassed it. It seemed like that was it-in a world where sequels were on the rise, Nemo would be one of the few that was just by itself.
And now we’re presented with Finding Dory; a companion piece to Finding Nemo. And I have to say…after thirteen years of waiting….it’s well worth the wait.
What’s the story? Well a year has taken place after the events of Finding Nemo. Marlin, Nemo and Dory are back in their nook of the world, when suddenly while on a school field trip, Dory’s memory is triggered and is on a desperate search to find her family. Marlin and Nemo are taken along for the ride as they must cross the ocean once again to the “Jewel of Morro Bay”; a Marine Life Institute. Along the way, it’s Dory this time who meets a cast of colorful characters on her journey to find home.
Literally there’s nothing wrong with this movie so let’s just talk about all the good stuff. There’s a lot.
- The CHARACTERS
- Once again, the characters are incredible. I’ll talk about the new ones first-Bailey the Beluga Whale, Destiny a whale shark, two seals, and Hank an octopus with only seven legs, are all funny and well written-each contributing it’s own way to help Dory. My favorites were Hank and Destiny. Hank was a scene stealer. The old crowd make a welcome return-Crush the now 151 year old sea turtle provides the means to get to California; the East Australian Current once again.
- Marlin. I could really write an entire separate article on this character and Dory. About how this film is a huge double character study. Because his character isn’t perfectly reformed and changed after his trip across the ocean. Sure he’s a bit less stern, but he still goes into manic states, and is still overprotective-and even tries to deny things he’s done. To see him grow completely and utterly as a character-to see him take fault and responsibility for those he hurt and done, is really refreshing. Marlin here finally admits some things that he couldn’t have done before due to pride, and thus grows. There’s a wonderful scene in the pipes, and another wonderful scene with him and Dory towards the end. It’s these two scenes that SHOW you how much Marlin has grown and changed.
- Dory. Dory here is the center of the film. Unlike most main characters where (while they have good personalities) for the most part they’re just okay-it’s the side characters that take over and become more interesting. Here, Dory doesn’t suffer that. She completely holds the film, and Ellen does a wonderful job selling both the serious heart wrenching drama scenes Pixar is best at and the comedy Pixar is known for. What’s interesting about her character, is while you can understand Dory’s plight of her memory problem, you can also understand why certain fish would get annoyed, particularly with Marlin. She’s certainly an all around interesting character.
- The VOICE ACTING
- Once again, everyone brings their A Game here. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres and Andrew Stanton return as Marlin, Dory and Crush the turtle. Ty Burrell voices Bailey, the Beluga Whale, Eugene Levy is Charlie, Kaitlin Olson is Destiny the Whale Shark, and Diane Keaton voices Jenny. Ed O’Neil voiced Hank the octopus. The emotional scenes are so well acted, and every line was just well performed. At least this time I knew immediately who Dory was. After Finding Nemo had premiered….Sad to say that it took me a long, LONG time before I would realize who Dory was voiced by. Once again, with voice acting, as you see above this paragraph, actors don’t have much to go on other than a few photos, maybe a few barely rendered scenes, and their own instincts. They have to really rely on their director and themselves to bring these characters to life.
- The ANIMATION
- At this point it’s almost pointless to talk about Pixar animation. Even their most disappointing, pointless films have had great to stunning animation. The way animation can capture so many emotions on the face in the span of seconds fascinates me. When there were extreme close ups of Dory you could see she doesn’t have scales like Marlin or Nemo her skin is different. She also still has the scars from her and Marlin’s run in with the Jellyfish Forest. The lighting from the Kelp Forest was nice and eerie, and the aquarium looked great and how they all managed to get to the different exhibits and how those looked was great too.
- The SCRIPT
- In some ways…this film is in fact better than the first. In one important way, is the script. Here the characters are given more time to just breathe, and let you experience the journey. With the first, there was a simple goal-find Nemo. It’s a fine goal, and the movie is still to me Pixar’s best yet…sometimes it felt a bit slow, and the message a bit hammered in. it’s a good message, but maybe I’d skip when a moment when they’re in the whale, or when they’re talking to the turtle. Here? I’d skip the first 5 minutes-I’d start the movie when they’re getting chased by this giant squid-after Marlin yells at Dory for putting Nemo at risk and his son in shock, it’s Marlin who sets this journey into motion. The way the characters interact with each other is great-nothing felt forced, nothing felt too rushed or not worked on enough…There’s a saying that if you have to tell your story through flashbacks you’re doing something wrong in film…but here…it works because it adds to the mystery of the film. There were about 3 powerhouse scenes; when Dory finds out what happened to her parents and goes into shock (I’ll explain later), when Dory and Marlin and Nemo are in the pipes, and a scene revolving around her parents and shells.
- The CINEMATOGRAPHY
- There’s this scene where Dory is with other blue tang and Marlin and Nemo. She finds out what may have happened, through Marlin who has to unfortunately explain it to her. She then goes into this state of shock-I’m not sure how but through animation PIXAR did this amazing “Double vision” you often see in film when people are about to black out. It then becomes this incredible Point of View shot where Dory can’t hear a thing going on around her until she’s back into the ocean in front of the institute. As someone who’s had a few panic attacks here or there….that scene was spot on-you feel out of control you don’t pay attention to anything going on around you, you just try to think of a way to calm yourself down. That whole scene is one of my favorites in the film.
Like with Finding Nemo, while there’s a lot to talk about in Finding Dory review wise, not so much since…it’s so good. It’s easier to talk about the bad films than the good-with the good you say what’s good and move on. With bad films, you can just clamor on and on and on. This film builds upon this universe in a good way-the returning characters contribute to the story in unique and important ways. And they address a lot of Marlin’s issues as a character from the first film over here. There are some things that might annoy people-the first ten minutes feel strikingly familiar and Marlin’s constant going on and on about their journey can get annoying but this is thirteen years since people may have seen the first; maybe Pixar felt they needed to be reminded of Finding Nemo. All in all, it’s just as perfect as the original.
Is it BETTER than the original? Welllllllllll………………
For now….I’ll just go ahead and give it 5/5 stars how about that?
Comment below what Pixar movie is the BEST of the best?
In a world where fish have personalities, and have lives of their own, the life of clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) is shaken when his only son Nemo is taken from him by divers. He goes on an oeanwide journey to find his son, meeting a friendly but forgetful blue tang fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a cool sea turtle Crush, and many other creatures-learning a valuable lesson along the way.
So the question is….Does Finding Nemo still hold up after being out and about in public for thirteen years?
Well….That’s a definite yes. With an attraction at Walt Disney World Resort where you can talk to Crush, or ride in a sub at Disneyland and now with a “companion piece” which is a much nicer term for a film like Finding Dory out and breaking all sorts of records at the box office, Finding Nemo’s staying power seems to be going strong. But why? Let’s take a look.
- The ANIMATION
- The ocean is a stunning, dangerous, beautifully gorgeous place. And even though this movie was released in 2003 and production years before, when CGI wasn’t at the place it is now, the film holds up extremely well in blu-ray and Digital HD. The lighting, the flowing animation, the way the characters are designed, the sound effects of the water….everything is done just beautifully.
- The CHARACTERS
- All of the characters are wonderful. Especially the two leads Marlin and Dory. It’s important the audience like your leads; they don’t like your leads they very well won’t like your movie. Thankfully, these leads are wonderful. Marlin’s character is more than understandable after the horrific loss he suffered at the movie’s prologue at the hands of a nasty predator known as a barracuda. He’s manic, overbearing, over-protective, distrusting, and just downright neurotic type of fish. His exact counterpart is Dory; a fun-loving, lives in the moment regal blue-tang. His adventurous son Nemo is cute to a degree, the Tank Gang is funny and holds up the subplot well enough and the characters Marlin meets along the way are funny and memorable. Particularly Crush dudes.Also Marlin is one of cinema’s BEST dads ever. For a lot of reasons-in particular his sheer determination to find his son.
- The SOUNDTRACK
- The soundtrack completely fits the movie; mysterious, energetic, depressing, and just relaxing. Exactly like the movie, and exactly like the ocean in which this takes place.
- The VOICE ACTING
- Everyone brings their A game in this movie. It actually took me a LONG while after this movie was released before I even knew Dory was voiced by THE Ellen. Albert Brooks does a remarkable job on Marlin, and Alexander Gould as Nemo, Willem Dafoe as Gill (go figure eh?), Geoffry Rush as Nigel a pelican, and Andrew Stanton as the 150 year old sea turtle Crush, bring about wonderful and memorable characters. Voice acting often revolves around actors just in a booth surrounded by pictures of their characters and how the director wants them to read their lines. It’s a hard task to pull off well and these guys did over the moon amazing. Albert Brooks in particular really sells Marlin’s misery and woes in the beginning and his determination to find his son.
- The LESSON
- The lesson for this movie is more so for parents than kids. Marlin as stated before is overbearing and over-protective, and doesn’t seem to lose traits completely in Finding Dory. He only slightly overcomes these traits during his epic voyage….Which is what happens in real life. He slowly but surely comes out of his scales, and learns the value of having friends, of trusting others (there are quite a few scenes that almost hammer this in for Marlin but not to the point of “ok we get it already”) and in the end, he learns to let his son go. Which is the lesson here; go to the ends of the earth for your child, but learn when it’s time to let them go. More often than not, an animation (which typically are seen as “just for kids” movies) have lessons thus geared for the children. So for an animation from Pixar no less to have a lesson for adults isn’t something you see everyday.
In the end, there are plenty of reasons why Finding Nemo is still remembered, still regarded as one of Pixar’s BEST films, won the Academy Award for Best Animation, and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It’s just a wonderful, heartfelt story about a father’s determination to save his son, and a father’s journey to grow as a character. Sometimes the movie can be a little to dialogue heavy, but for the most part, the movie just breathes. This movie is all about “Show don’t tell”; it just lets the audience experience this beautiful world Pixar has created. It’s no wonder they decided to create the sequel/Companion piece Finding Dory.
Finding Nemo deserves nothing short, of a 5/5 from me.
Also every dad ever should watch this movie with their kids.