Although it was released last Monday, we still haven’t quite recovered from the teaser trailer for the third instalment of Pixar’s Cars. Hard-hitting, harrowing and dark – and with an ending that’s not suitable for all audiences – the first look at Cars 3 is causing a lot more controversy than might normally be expected from a Pixar production.
In just over 50 seconds, the trailer manages to build to an impressive level of intensity: cars speed around a circuit at maximum velocity; fences start shaking; a heart beats like a war drum. “McQueen is fading!” cries the commentator, we hear a crash and then a car (one we know well) flips across the track. Fade to black.
“From this moment, everything will change”.
The gritty trailer is a radical departure from what we’ve come to expect from the Cars franchise. Responses have been mixed: many parents have already flagged it as being too traumatic for kids; others have joked that it looks more like the trailer for the latest Cristopher Nolan film; Josh Gad, Olaf from Frozen, tweeted, “deciding which is sadder: Terms of Endearment, Sophie’s Choice or the new Cars 3 trailer”.
Although the trailer has shocked many, the official synopsis of the movie had already hinted that the trequel would be grittier than the first two films: “Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez.”
We’ll have to wait until next year to discover if the film turns out to be as hard-hitting as the trailer. But so far, Cars 3 looks to be further proof of the fact that Pixar’s sequels mature at the same rate as their potential audience: viewers who were eight at the time of the first film will now be 18. Cars 3 is for them.
It’s worth remembering that this isn’t the first time the third instalment of a Pixar franchise includes traumatic events: the incinerator scene in Toy Story 3, when Woody and the other toys barely escape being cremated alive, left even adult viewers gasping for breath.