Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Movie Review: 'Cars'

Scepticism surrounded ‘Cars’ from the off, doubts were raised as reports of a spiralling budget emerged and repeated delays and a lacklustre trailer lead many to believe this could be the end of Pixar’s run of outstandingly successful features. And indeed it is easy to criticise ‘Cars’ in comparison to its predecessors. It does rely on an overly recognisable story structure and ticks the box for each of the standard characters and their respective concerns which will be resolved by movies end. Pixar is the very creator of the stumbling blocks which it finds Cars now stumbling over. Pixar has set the standard which it has continually conformed to and which many rivals seek to emulate. The success of 'Toy Story' was its mass appeal, so much so that a basis for criticism of subsequent animated movies is that they ‘only appeal to tots or children’. Audiences and critics alike demand differing levels of humour to satisfy all viewing age groups, strong unique characters, an enthralling story, pop culture references and of course it must look great.

If we are to label ‘Cars’ the weakest of Pixars films it should mot be said without qualification. To date Pixar and any other animators have created worlds numbered by ants, monsters, fairy tale folk and any other number of characters which have distinguishable human characteristics, they have faces, eyes and some number of appendages through which they can convey emotions, reactions and give depth to characters. The world of ‘Cars’ is just that, full of cars and to have created a stable of characters, easily identifiable and design them so that we believe they are live and struggling characters is commendable.

The creation of the car characters is only a tangent of a broader discussion of the look of the film. From the opening shot I was overwhelmed by the glorious look and colour of the film. From the intensity and bustle of car racing sequences to the great open expanses of middle America, coupled with Danny Elfman’s score no amount of protestation would convince me anyone could resist being caught up in the furore and the calm- you have already got the message of the film before its spelt out to the leading character. Look even at the opaque and monotone look of the city in the concluding scenes of ‘The Incredibles’ or the block of computer graphics that are suppose to be glaciers in ‘Ice Age 2', I could not level such criticism at one such scene in ‘Cars’.

Most importantly,‘Cars’ does continue Pixars tradition of saying something new. Even when ‘Shrek’ was heralded as an innovation in film making with its ridiculing of Disney and ironic twists on fairytales it was nothing more than a road trip, journey of growth, only living happily ever after when you found someone to marry you. Cars focuses on the impact a bypass has on the economy of a small town and more broadly, how distracted and detached we can become by the drone of getting through and forget to live. It’s a real and relatable story so that while 'Cars’ may be relegated to the lower echelons of Pixar’s output, the heart and virtue in the story and the dutiful filmmaking on display deserves recognition.


xianfu said...

Cars??? havent watched it yet... everyone seems to make a review of it.. shall catch it at the cinemas soon.. btw, u have an interesting blog here...It got me addicted on reading it.. Keep it up.. leave me some comment too at my blog InvernoKL wanna have ur words on it.. :p take care, xian

Anonymous said...

i just found your blog and have enjoyed the posts i read. however, i think u totally missed the point of the movie. Cars was not at all about the impact that a bypass has on the economy!!! This is a kids movie...the message was about slowing down, enjoying life, and that fame and prestige aren't so great if you run around acting like you are better than everyone else. The point was that the people in your life are what really matter, not the things or prestige that you acquire.

CK said...

I felt I conveyed that, I commented how the bypass was the method used to address the broader issue of 'how distracted and detached we can become by the drone of getting through and forget to live'. I absolutely realised that was the point of the movie and it is such a message that lead to me commending it. I disagree that it was a kids movie, I certainly hope it is a message that kids take on board but the message needs imparting due to the lifestyles of their parents, who themselves should take note of the movie's message.