Cars 3 movie review

When “Cars” first sped onto the silver screen, people were pretty split about it-some liked it, most don’t. Then “Cars 2” came along and it was pretty much a GIANT FREAKING MIDDLE FINGER from Pixar to those who love animation, film, and that studio. So when it was announced that “Cars 3” was making it’s way to theaters, people were understandably nervous. But then the trailers showing McQueen’s wreck and the aftermath appeared…And…Is “Cars 3” the redemption we’ve been looking for?

Plot: Racing legend Lightning McQueen finds himself blindsided by the next generation. After Lightning suffers a  nasty wreck similar to both The King and Doc Hudson, he goes on a journey to prepare for the Florida 500, with help from his personal trainer Cruz Ramirez, the Legends, and his memories of The Fabulous Hudson Hornet.  

The GOOD 

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Just about every character McQueen meets serves a purpose to the plot. That is good film writing 101 right there.

  • The CHARACTERS 
    • Here the movie turns the focus back to Lightning McQueen, who you immediately tell from the first few sentences in the film is older, wiser, but still McQueen in essence; he’s not one to say “no” to pranking his racing buddies Bobby Swift and Cal Weathers. He’s a bit more interesting here than in the first film, yet still a bit of a blank enough slate to be a good audience avatar. Cruz Ramirez starts off pretty annoying, but about at the halfway point you start to like her a bit and root for her as well as Lightning. Mater takes a complete backseat in this film thank GOD. The Legends-Smokey, Midnight, Louise and River are cool as well; it’s interesting to meet Doc’s teacher and watch Lightning learn from him.
  • The ANIMATION 
    • This is nothing new with Pixar animation-even their lower films; “The Good Dinosaur”, “Cars 2”, “Brave” all films aren’t as highly regarded as Pixar’s others, but their animation is still stunningly beautiful to look at. Here it’s no exception. The artwork in the backgrounds, and even on the characters is great. McQueen gets several makeovers in the film-an electronic finish, his Corvette inspired looks, and a VERY touching look by the end of the film. It also looks as if they got better animating the expressions on the cars’ faces. It doesn’t look SO odd anymore…Or maybe I’m just used to how wide their mouths can get.
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Doc Hudson was a straight up badass. And the flashbacks of him are the highlights of the film.

  • The STORY 
    • The story is kind of basic, but the simplicity of it makes it work. It’s like Rocky meets Creed. I say that, because when you hear in the trailers and read in the basic plot that Cruz Ramirez has had racing dreams of her own, you can piece together just why so many say it’s a mix of Creed and Rocky. It’s an underdog story, along with a story of learning to pass the torch along. You understand Lightning’s fear of becoming like his late mentor Doc Hudson-the fact that he gave up his win in the 06 movie to ensure The King didn’t suffer that same fate shows that what happened to Hudson truly stuck with him. And yet he uses his time with Hudson as motivation to win.
    • On that note, getting to learn more about Doc is certainly a treat as he’s quite a mystery in the first film. He’s kind of that stereotypical grumpy veteran who learns a few things from Lightning while teaching Lightning as well. You really truly get to understand just what both meant to each other here-not through words, not through speeches of how important one is, but through pictures, mostly silent flashbacks, and the animation on McQueen and Hudson through those flashbacks.
    • The story is heartfelt, and you feel like they understood where they went wrong with movie 2, and this was most certainly an apology for their lack of a Paul Newman tribute in the second and an apology for the second film as a whole. “Cars” is a story of racing, so why they decided to make a spy movie and put racing in the background no one knows. But either way, the story here is heartfelt, simple, and clean-if you want to know how to write a screenplay, watch this film-it well and truly follows the simple 3 act structure.
  • The VOICE ACTING 
    • Everyone does a fine enough job with their voice acting here.

The MEH 

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While the training does later prove to have a point, they really should’ve just cut this training montage in half.

  • The PACING 
    • The first half of the movie IS indeed quite slow. After Lightning’s wreck, it’s a pretty slow burn until the crew get to Doc’s old racetrack. Then once Smokey, Doc Hudson’s old crew chief, starts training McQueen, the movie picks up to a considerable pace. But when I eventually get this movie on Blu-Ray or Digital Download, I know I’ll fast forward to just after the Demolition Derby-I’d say spoilers but that scene is clearly in the trailers.

The BAD 

cars 3 storm vs lightning

Storm is like the Ramsay Bolton of Cars….It’s not even fun to hate him. You just want to see him be put in his place.

  • The Villain 
    • There’s a saying in film-you’re hero is only as strong as your villain. If your villain can transform into a fire breathing dragon by calling upon hell itself, you should have a pretty great hero to combat that. In this new Disney Renaissance, it seems like the focus is on the hero’s journey, and if there’s a villain….eh whatever alright. Here’s no different. Jackson Storm is pretty much your generic jerk-like how McQueen was in the beginning of “Cars” but worse. He’s really the only downside of the film. He provides some good competition and a threat to McQueen, but they could’ve done him a bit better.

The CONCLUSION 

It seems as though Pixar is completely wiping the slate clean with this film-it’s a total apology for “Cars 2”; Mater is pushed to the background, with the focus on a veteran McQueen facing his twilight years as a racer. You feel for the stock car-much more than in the first film. For him the stakes are actually high and meaningful. The characters he encounters are memorable and enjoyable for the most part-mainly Smokey Doc’s mentor and Cruz-Sterling is insufferable. The pacing has a few issues, there’s only one main subplot, which doesn’t detract too much from the film, and McQueen’s character arc gets a touching and fitting end. You also get nice closure for Doc Hudson which is something you don’t realize you wanted until you actually experience it-when you see how much he meant to Lightning, you appreciate him all the more. It can be predictable, but it’s still enjoyable as well.

“Cars 3” gets a 3.5/5 from me- while the film fishtails here and there, Pixar manages to settle back into place, and kicked it into high gear with this one. It’s a fine film that’s MUCH more enjoyable than the second, and improves on the first.

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About Mary

I'm a college graduate with a degree in film. I review movies, tv shows, and cartoons....And I write about anything that interests me at the time.

Posted on June 17, 2017, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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