It holds that even the less acclaimed works Pixar can rival the best ones from other production studio. Such can apply to Cars (2006), the "lowest" scoring Pixar animation in RT compared with its six predecessors, but still managed a nice-looking 74%. Yet, I think Cars just barely made it through. Mediocre world-building and theme focusing compiled with averagely developed characters that have high potential pulled back Pixar's efforts to meet its lofty standards, while its climax is one of the most uncomfortable and problem-filled I have seen in animation so far. I still love some parts of the film though.
The major problem of the film is its initial concept. In Toy Story, toys are the main characters and they meld well with the human world. Unlike John Lasseter's previous directorial work, the world of Cars consists of Cars only. Although Pixar's animating prowess still gleams, it's still strange to see cars filling the seats of the stadium and to try do what humans do in reality. Besides, its not the best idea to anthropomorphize cars since they only have eyes and mouth to express their personalities. But what really hinders the potential of making memorable characters like those in Toy Story and Finding Nemo is John Lasseter's inaccurate direction. Often plot elements are too "blatant", lacking the sophistication that flows through the veins of other Pixar animations. For example, the portrayal of McQueen's egotistic, rude character featured him uttering lines that are clearly egotistic and rude, as if the plot and dialogue were tailor made to characterize the protagonist and was doing it in a low-skilled, lazy manner. The climax is especially abominable, in which McQueen took advice he learnt back in Radiator Springs and used them in his race, which at the end turned out to be as successful as he expected, and exactly what the audience expected since there wasn't much runtime left for further drama. The appeal for younger audience is strong, but for vintage Pixar films they also consider materials for a larger range of age groups, satisfying the whole family while excelling in technical apartments like what The Incredibles did. Seemed like John was serving for his own satisfaction and neglecting film elements that are crucial for public acclaim.
But sure, if you neglect the climax, it's an entertaining if not well-made movie. People say Cars lack heart and warmth, but thats what I actually see and love. Amid the film there were a lot of casual sequences where McQueen interacted with the inhabitants of Radiator Springs, and they all summed up with some scenes with beautiful country music accompanied by flashbacks of the glory days in the past. I certainly enjoy watching McQueen's stay in this random, forgotten town and his budding relationship with the town attorney Sally. The plot is decent and it's quite original to the very least, considering the fact that Dinosaur and Madagascar exist in the same world. Criticism only goes with the direction and the blatancy/unsophisticated characterization.
Cars 3 is happening. Even though the Cars franchise scores the least of all entries to Pixar's canon to date. But with the billion dollar success in its merchandising, it is hard to expect Pixar to give it up, disappointing its omnipotent parent company (Disney). So, brace for impact.