Anthony's Film Review
Cars 3 (2017)
Even with a sequel released six years after the previous movie of the series, Pixar still has the magic touch...
The third Cars movie from Pixar essentially goes back to the style of the first movie, rather than the second one that presents something similar to a spy action movie. Don't get me wrong. I loved Cars 2 for what it was. Still, I can understand how the first Cars movie represents what Pixar is known for: family-oriented animated films with heart and sentimental life lessons. The only question is whether Pixar could do it again with Cars 3. After all, what new story related to auto racing could it tell?
Sure enough, the storytellers do come up with something new, by presenting a situation familiar to the world of sports: new versus old. When a young rookie competitor enters the league and performs in ways that are not just impressive but also unconventional, the older veterans begin to question their sports career longevity. This is what finally happens to Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson). After being on top for so long, he loses a race to Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer), a sleek race car that has many modern technological features to provide diagnostic information and optimize performance on the track. To make matters worse, Lightning crashes in another race, putting an end to his racing season. Maybe his racing career, too.
But Lightning is not giving up. He still has a chance to prepare for the next big race and beat Jackson Storm, though he only has about two weeks. To do so, he visits a race training facility to undergo a series of exercises and improve his conditioning. It's not easy, however. Lightning wants to use the high-tech racing simulator, yet he is still expected to follow the instructions of trainer Cruz Ramirez (voiced by Cristela Alonzo) who makes him do the automotive equivalent of dance aerobics and yoga. Lightning finds it so idiotic that he ultimately convinces Cruz to let him do training in a more realistic outdoor setting.
Just as the first Cars movie focuses on the relationship between Lightning and the two truck Tow Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy), Cars 3 centers on Lightning and Cruz, a great opportunity for the film to explore themes related to passing along wisdom from one generation to another. This theme is also evident in the various situations away from the training facility that end up preparing Lightning for the big race in unexpected ways. To top it off, the movie revisits the mentor-protege relationship between Lightning and Doc Hudson from the first Cars movie. It may even make you appreciate the first Cars movie a bit more. (Note: Doc Hudson was voiced by Paul Newman, who died in 2008. The voice of Newman in Cars 3 is the result of unused recordings from the first Cars movie being incorporated into this one.)
The only question now is whether Cars 3 is predictable like Cars 1 was. The answer: not quite, and for one good reason. During the climactic race, Lightning decides to do something that would make the audience drop their jaw and/or mentally applaud in response to the trademark Pixar cleverness. That right there made me feel that the film is not only complete, but better than if a conventional approach were taken. So if you're worried that Pixar as owned by Disney isn't as good as Pixar before the acquisition by Disney, don't be. To me, not much has changed.
Previously, I rated the first Cars a 7 out of 10 (for being fairly predictable) and the second Cars a 9 out of 10 (for being a pleasant surprise). Because the third Cars is better than the first without being a huge risk-taker like the second, I would rate it in between, as an 8 out of 10. Originally, I wasn't sure if a Cars 4 is possible, but based on the direction this film took and the way Pixar maintains its core skill of creativity, the possibility is more likely to become reality. So there you have it. Cars 3 is another winner, making its third lap in the series while still staying on top of its game.
For more information about Cars 3, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of Cars and Cars 2.