Written By Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson and Mike Rich
Composed By Randy Newman
Produced By Kevin Reher
Edited By Stephen Schaffer
Directed By Brian Fee
Cars…a Pixar franchise that honestly has no real majority consensus in what fans think of the films-either you love them, you hate them or you just find it okay. I’m more than likely in the minority when I say that Cars is one of my favorite Pixar franchises because of its heartwarmingly fun stories and lovable characters. When it comes to my thoughts on the films themselves, I loved the first Cars even though I knew nothing about it before seeing it and I’m one of the very few people who actually liked Cars 2 despite it being heavily panned by critics and audiences everywhere. So when I heard there was gonna be a third Cars movie made for this year, I was pretty damn excited for it especially with the teaser trailer that got so many of us and even the haters of the Cars franchise hyped up…but does Lightning McQueen have what it takes to become a racing legend again or has he raced for the last time? Let’s find out…this is ‘Cars 3’!
So, what’s the story? Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast cars led by Jackson Storm (played by Armie Hammer), the legendary Lighting McQueen (once again played by Owen Wilson) finds himself pushed out of the sport that he loves. Hoping to get back in the game, he turns to Cruz Ramirez (played by Cristela Alonzo)-an eager young technician who has her own plans for winning. With inspiration from the Fabulous Hudson Hornet (played by the late Paul Newman) and a few unexpected turns, No. 95 prepares to compete on Piston Cup Racing's biggest stage.
The overarching theme of Cars 3 is about admitting that you’ve become too old for something and accepting retirement…that’s actually pretty damn deep and mature for a kid’s film in my opinion especially with how it takes a good hard look at what it’s like to be an aging athlete or rather anyone going through a mid-life crisis while at the same time is a tale about mentorship and learning to put aside your ego to bolster someone else’s as Lightning McQueen realizes that this is the end of his reign on top of the racing world and must now mentor and train Cruz Ramirez to become a champion in the same way that Doc Hudson did the same for him which really helps to make the story really effective and feel like it’s truly about something and not just there to sell toys…it even made me like the first Cars movie even more than I did before.
Moving on to the animation, Pixar has always done an incredible job and have really come a long way ever since their early beginnings…but here, the environments in particular such as the racetrack for the Florida 500 where the climax of the film takes place as well as Fireball Beach where the training sequences begin look so amazingly photo-realistic to the point where the racing scenes and characters look better than they have ever been before-some would say that the cartoony cars against the real-life backgrounds feels out of place, but it doesn’t feel distracting to me at all. It’s incredibly detailed, it’s stylish and it does well to add to the proceedings in the film itself-well done, Pixar!
You really do feel sorry for Lightning McQueen in this movie with the more times that you see him struggle and try to learn all of these new techniques-it really helps to make him more of a fully developed character since he’s determined to end his career on his own terms while realizing he’ll never be who he once was especially with how Owen Wilson’s performance captures the ‘wait, am I really becoming the old guy?’ feeling that he’s going through and knows that he must make room for the future in the form of his new trainer Cruz Ramirez. Cruz is a great new addition to the cast who you really become invested in especially with how Cristela Alonzo’s performance captures both the enthusiasm and trepidation as we learn more about her hopes and dreams for what might have been of becoming a racer after being inspired by Lightning McQueen. As for Jackson Storm, he is easily the best out of all of the rivals that Lightning McQueen has ever had to face throughout the franchise-he actually does feel like a threat towards Lightning McQueen’s racing career with how much faster and strong he is and not to mention has the personality and mind of an overly confident bully who’s willing to bring both Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez down whatever it takes.
Overall, ‘Cars 3’ is a deep and emotionally heartwarming adventure that helped to end the Cars franchise on the best note possible and gets a rating of 10 out of 10...and if this truly is the last adventure in the Cars series as director Brian Fee says it is, then I will always remember Radiator Springs as ‘a happy place’.