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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Cars 3, Review by Siraj Syed: Car-actor roles

Cars 3, Review by Siraj Syed: Car-actor roles

Imagine this. You are a fading racing veteran and suddenly you lose a race to a rookie? What do you do? Seek professional help and training, even dig out your late mentor’s buddies and have a go at the next race. Now imagine all these characters are cars, not human beings, and you know you are watching the new Disney-Pixar enterprise dubbed Cars 3. It’s as human as human can be, but then again, it is as automobiley as automobiley can get. Get a load of this: cars go to a bar and feast themselves on various concoctions of oils, grills and fuels! Got it?

Can you imagine a film about cars without racing? So racing it is. Racing, and racing and still more racing. And can it be without 3D? So here’s the 3D ‘treatie’. And the good thing is that you need not have seen Cars 2006 and/or Cars 2 (2011) to make sense of this outing. Lightning McQueen (remember actor Steve and car films like Bullitt and Le Mans?), in red and bearing No. 95, is racing with his long time friends Bobby Swift and Cal Weathers. During one race, Bobby and Lightning are fighting toward the finish, when a mysterious black and blue car whizzes past them both, taking the chequered flag. The car turns out to be rude and arrogant rookie, Jackson Storm.

Natalie Certain, a statistician, explains on TV that Jackson is part of a new generation of racers, who use the latest technology to run faster than the veterans. At the next race, there are six more high-tech cars, and they race with precision, cutting off Lightning at each turn. Jackson wins again, with Lightning finishing third. One day, Lightning's best friend Mater (a tow truck) shows up, and Lightning tells him that he's ready to start training again. But first he needs to talk to Rusty and Dusty, the owners of Rust-eze, Lightning's sponsor.

Story by Brian Fee, Ben Queen (Proximity, Cars 2, Drive), Eyal Podell (Israeli actor; writing debut) and Jonathan E. Stewart (feature film debut) has screenplay by Kiel Murray (first feature film), Bob Peterson (A Bug’s Story, Finding Nemo, The Good Dinosaur), Mike Rich (The Nativity Story, Secretariat). Brian Fee, a story board artist on Cars instalment 1, directs, making his debut at the megaphone. Dan Gerson, who passed away in February 2016 at 49, also provided early inputs. A simple tale at the centre, these guys have built in solid practice tracks and dirt-tracks around the main track, and added generous doses of humour, making it whole and wholesome.

Pre-teens will identify with many of the mobile phone games they are addicted to, while teens and twenties are in for a roller-coaster ...oops, that is pale by comparison! Guys and dolls in their 30s and 40s can look forward to some awesome computer graphics and images. And the whole family can enjoy moments of nostalgia, ambition and depression that dogged them during their 30s and 40s. Retirees? Mention of that word is taboo when you are watching Cars 3 (spoiler). Ok, so retirees have an important role to play. Right?

Voicing for the ‘caractors’ are a host of talented names, who have all done an above average job: Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen; Shanghai Noon, Meet the Parents and the previous two Car chases), Cristela Alonzo (Cruz Ramirez; Lightning’s old fan and new trainer; comedian, writer; Shirley in the Angry Birds 2016 movie), Armie Hammer (Jackson Storm; The Social Network, The Lone Ranger, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.---good guy turned villain), Larry the Cable Guy as Mater, Bonnie Hunt (Sally Carrera, a Porsche 996-series and Lightning's girlfriend), Nathan Fillion (Sterling, the rich car who has bought over Rust-eze Racing Center) and Kerry Washington (Natalie Certain) form the cast, with a resurrected cameo from Paul Newman (Doc Hudson), who played the role in the first!

If you want your adrenaline pumping for make-believe cars on killer tracks, get on to that simulator, a car simulator for car drivers or driver cars, or cars that are drivers, or drivers that are cars, and flag way. After all, they are so human that they even have girl friends and boy friends. Remember that old riddle, “Why are cars referred to as ‘she’? Because they are temperamental, a coat of paint makes them more attractive, and foreign ones are in greater demand.” How many laps have you completed?

Rating: *** ½


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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