Cars 3

Cars 3

In Theatres: 
Jun 16, 2017
Running Time: 
109 minutes

Every studio has its black sheep. For Marvel it’s Thor: The Dark World. For Paramount it’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Pixar’s black sheep is without a doubt the Cars franchise. While the first film is okay, Cars 2 is pretty lackluster, especially given Pixar’s outstanding quality of work over the years. They’re still box office hits so the franchise lives on. Cars 3 is Pixar’s attempt to get the studio back on the right track, and while it isn’t as good as the rest of their filmography, it is a vast improvement over its predecessor. Lightning McQueen and friends seem to be headed in the right direction for once.


Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has enjoyed years of being at the top of the racing circuit, but all of that is about to change when a younger and faster generation of technologically advanced racers start taking the checkered flag. Leading the pack is Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), who manages to get under McQueen’s hood. In a desperate attempt to win, Lightning pushes the limits of what he’s capable of and ends up in a nasty car wreck. Despite everyone else telling him it’s time to retire, Lightning is steadfast to race and win again as he begins to train under Rust-eze’s new owner, Sterling (Nathan Fillion), and with the help of trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo). But will the latest and greatest equipment even be enough for Lightning to beat the likes of Jackson Storm? He has one chance to prove it or else it’s television commercials and product placements for the rest of his career.


Cars 3 is a step up for the Cars franchise, both in animation and in story. The visuals are absolutely amazing and are what you expect from a studio such as Pixar. The level of detail in the environments is stunningly realistic despite the fact that we’re watching a world full of anthropomorphic vehicles. At one point Lighting and Cruz enter a demolition derby by accident, and I loved seeing all the gritty detail in the mud and fire. They also travel to train on the beach, and the same can be said about the sand and the waves. Cars 3 looks the best when they get away from the standard race track and out into the open.


The story is an improvement as well, although not as drastic as the visuals. I enjoyed the relationship between Lightning and Cruz. The training segments between them were the best moments of the film. Thankfully, the over-the-top blabbering of Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is kept to a minimum as well. He’s still present but in a much more bearable state. There still are some lulls in the film, however.


One of my biggest complaints about Cars 3 is that it simply doesn’t have the same kind of emotional pull that other Pixar films have. The film did very little to make me care whether or not Lightning continues to race or if he retires. I had no investment in him or any of the other characters for that matter. I was just along for the ride, regardless of where it went. As a result, it can be boring at times because I simply didn’t care what happened.


That’s kinda how I feel about the Cars franchise in general. While Cars 3 is an improvement, it still lacks the imagination and creativity of Pixar’s other works. Most of the time it feels like they’re playing it safe. Retirement is the main theme of the film, and I can’t help but feel that Pixar should follow suit with the franchise. There’s no need for another one, and Cars 3 does end on a high note. That should be enough to ride off into the sunset for them.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook