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If you saw the teaser for Cars 3 then you were probably surprised with the rest of us that the film showed us a fairly dark setup for a Cars movie. If you thought that was a one-off deal, you can forget it. The first poster for next summer's Pixar release is now out and it freezes on one agonizing moment from that trailer to make it clear that we're in for a very different Cars movie.
The Cars 3 trailer was still one of the most shocking things I've seen this year. It just arrived out of nowhere and it was the last thing I expected to see. As with the poster above, the focus in seeing Lightning McQueen involved in a serious crash. The image, provided by Cartoon Brew, freezes the shot in the moments before the car hits the ground. It just feels like it's going to a bone-shattering moment when the impact finally comes.
Pixar is certainly capable of making movies that can be dark. See the climax of Toy Story 3 for an example of an absolutely terrifying moment in an animated film, however, everything about Cars 3 feels different. Every indication is that this is where the film will start, meaning that this tone will be cast over the entire film, not just a particular scene. What's more, because the style is looking so different the tone won't be muted by bright and colorful animation.
It's also surprising because if there was a Pixar franchise where we might expect a darker film, it probably wouldn't be Cars. While the original film certainly had some emotional aspects to it, the sheer fact that the movie is about anthropomorphic automobiles does a lot to make it feel less "real" than other Pixar films. The sequel, with its over-the-top spy movie plot, certainly wasn't looking to make as much of an emotional impact. The word was that the plan for Cars 3 was to try and recapture the heart of the first film, but I never really expected this.
Cars 3 is officially near the top of my "most anticipated" list for 2017, if only to finally see what the end result of all this will be. One gets the distinct impression that the tagline "everything will change" may be referring to more than just the plot line of Cars movies. This could be the movie that radically changes what we expect from Pixar, and possible animation, going forward.