“Cars 3” stars Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Nathan Fillion, and Kerry Washington. Released on June 16, 2017, the film has Lightning McQueen facing his biggest challenge when he gets blindsided by a new generation of high tech racers.
The film is directed by Brian Fee, who is a storyboard artist for Cars. It is the eighteenth feature film in the Pixar library and the third installment in the Cars film series. While Cars wasn’t as beloved as the animated classics that Pixar created, such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Inside Out, it doesn’t change the fact that it gathered an impressive amount of fans, and by fans, I mean a bunch of younger kids who love talking cars. After the success of Cars, Pixar continued the story of Lightning McQueen and his friends in Cars 2 back in 2011. Unfortunately, it failed to gather that same magic that Pixar is known for and became the first Pixar film to receive a “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Just goes to show you that not every thing is going to be perfect, especially Pixar, but does that mean that the studio is done with the franchise? Nope. Six years after the release of Cars 2, Pixar is now taking us back to the world of talking cars once again and based on the marketing that we saw, it looks like that it might be the Toy Story 3 of the Cars franchise. Please don’t judge me for saying that. I thought the first Cars movie was a pretty solid animated Pixar film with heartwarming messages and its splendid use of animation, and while Cars 2 was a step down from its predecessor and the other Pixar classics in terms of story, I managed to find some enjoyment in it. Now that we’re on to the third Cars film, does it have enough gas to race past the mistakes that were made in the second film?
Like the first Cars film, this latest sequel places its main focus on Lightning McQueen (Wilson) and his racing career, which is something that was missing in Cars 2. What made this one more interesting is the changes that the sport has went through, such as having the old racers being replaced by a new generation of race cars. With McQueen being the only old racer in the season, he makes it his mission to prove to the world that he’s not through. If you’re expecting it to be the next Pixar classic, do me a huge favor and don’t. Like the last two Cars films, this one’s not as memorable or emotionally powerful as Toy Story or Inside Out, but on the plus side, it’s better than Cars 2. The entire cast did a solid job voicing their respective characters, as well as the new additions, such as Alonzo as Cruz Ramirez, Lightning’s trainer, and Armie Hammer as Jackson Storm, one of the next-gen racers. While the folks from Radiator Springs are back to help Lightning, the film decided to shift its focus on Lightning and the new characters, with the old characters being used as either comic relief or a reminder that they’re in the film. The Pixar crew did a nice job with developing the friendship between Cruz and Lightning as she plays an important role to the story. As for Jackson Storm, he only serves as a typical “racing rival” guy whose only purpose is to win and be a complete jerk to Lightning. Other than that, the new characters are just as likable as the old characters. The film’s story also took inspiration from the events that happened to Doc Hudson, who was voiced by the late Paul Newman in the first film, which I thought was clever because it helps drive the story forward as well as develop McQueen’s character. The animation still remains as Pixar’s main highlight as it wonderfully showcases the character designs, the sceneries, and more importantly, the racing sequences. The story does have a few predictable moments and its usual sports movie cliches that kept it from reaching the same heights as the other Pixar classics, but its well-told themes are enough to keep it from running out of gas.
Overall, not only is “Cars 3” a solid improvement over the infamous Cars 2, but it is also a well-deserved conclusion to Pixar’s middle-of-the-road trilogy (unless they decided to make Cars 4). With a solid voice cast, great animation, and a heartwarming, yet cliched, story, this talking car threequel might not impress a lot of die-hard Pixar fans, but it sure will impress a lot of younger fans of the franchise as well as their parents. Ka-chow!
PS: Like many other Pixar films, this one has a brand new animated short that’ll play in front of the movie. This one is called “Lou”. It’s about an unseen creature who lives in the lost-and-found box. It was a bit creepy, but it’s a fun short nonetheless.