Cars 3: The difference in reviews by male and female critics

There's a difference in opinion on the storyline of new character Cruz Ramirez

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The Independent Culture

The first reviews of latest Pixar film Cars 3 have rolled in and the verdict is largely positive for Lightning McQueen's next adventure.

However, there seems to be a distinct difference in opinion between male and female critics regarding new female character Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo)

Mashable highlights that, as of writing, Rotten Tomatoes had listed 17 critics' verdicts - 16 of whom were men compared with just one female - Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt. Most enjoyed the film (far more than Cars 2 anyhow), excluding the latter who branded the film "...a standard ride with a half-full tank, a gorgeous paint job, and not much at all under the hood."

Ramirez' addition to the Cars franchise is Pixar's way of injecting what is largely considered to be a series aimed at boys with a dose of 'female empowerment,' especially considering the character's status as a trainer who once had dreams of becoming a successful racer like McQueen (Owen Wilson).

The renowned critics may have bought into it, but Mashable peered beneath the surface at the female critical verdicts that weren't listed on the review aggregate site and found a different story. You can see a crop of them below:

Sassy Mama in LA, Yolanda Machado

"Less Pixar-like and more like an attempt to gently ease middle America into acceptance, female empowerment and diversity, but just as long as it happens on the male lead’s terms. SIGH... tried to tell a story of female empowerment through the perspective of the male lens... [Cruz Ramirez] is a very skilled trainer, one who could, in fact, run circles around McQueen, yet, he consistently refuses her advice and instead, makes her feel unsure of her methods and skills... She is only allowed to have something if a male allows her to have it, this includes confidence, acknowledging her skills, and even, chances to speak up for herself. Ladies, this is not what girl power is."

FreshFiction.TV, Courtney Howard:

"[McQueen] gets a young woman to make him feel better about himself! Don’t get me wrong. It’s absolutely wonderful that they wanted to be gender-inclusive, and should be commended for the diversity of the voice cast, but there are aspects they don’t totally nail. The third act is particularly problematic, as it doesn’t fully commit to the bold choice of female empowerment it clearly sets out to embody. It feels like a cop out, done to appease a broader base rather than genuinely surprise audiences... as a female, I’m very disappointed it fumbles - as the message it sends is that we can’t have it all. We’ve got to share our seat at the table."

It should be noted that both Machado and Howard enjoyed many aspects of Cars 3, however, the 'female empowerment' angle was not one of them. They even criticised the treatment of supporting character Natalie Certain (Kerry Washington), with Howard stating she has to “deal with sexism at her job for no reason.” The majority of male critics don't even mention that character's inclusion.

Their views are at complete odds with the male critical verdict which has likened Ramirez's story to "a girl-power" tale similar to that of Imperator Furiosa in George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road

Variety, Owen Glieberman:

"Cars 3 is very much a tale of mentorship, of learning how to give up your ego in order to bolster someone else’s. As such, it’s touching in a pleasingly formulaic, pass-the-torch way. It turns out to be a girl-power movie: Cruz Ramirez is a trainer because she never believed in herself as a racer, and it’s up to Lightning to set her straight."

Aside from Ramirez and Certain, however, Cars 3 is being touted as a considered return to form with USA Today branding it "Rocky IV with anthropomorphic automobiles."

The film, directed by Brian Fee, will be released in the UK on 14 July.