REVIEW: ‘Cars 3’ Ends The Series On A High Note, But Continues To Fall Behind The Rest Of Pixar

The “Cars” universe has always confused the hell out of me and the latest entry is no exception. Like, why do the cars have doors and handles if there are no people? Why are there faster, more advanced cars? Are they built by other cars or is it cars evolving?

Those questions certainly came up with me from start to finish here, but the real important question is ‘was the movie any good?’

Well, not really, it more falls into the category of being just OK.

The movie once again follows the franchise’s protagonist Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson). A car who’s won multiple racing championships, McQueen is still competing and remains confident in doing so. However, as he enters his latest race, he finds himself falling behind the younger cars that appear to be far more advanced.

As a result, McQueen is always playing catch-up and this ultimately leads to an accident where he gets severely injured. What follows is McQueen’s quest for redemption and to regain his status as one of the best racers in the world. To do so, McQueen eventually finds help in professional trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).

Like its predecessors, “Cars 3” has a story that’s quite a bit more predictable and by-the-books than other Pixar flicks. It’s not that this crashes the whole film, but it leaves it lacking in the same levels of depth that, say, “Inside Out” or “The Incredibles” had.

That’s not to say there was nothing of value that came with the picture’s story. For example, McQueen coming to terms with his racing days nearing their end finding out what his future holds has some solid moments. Yet the way it’s plotted is done a bit poorly, as the film seems to bounce around with whether this is McQueen’s movie or the newcomer Ramirez’s.

Despite its detriments, “Cars 3” does contain some enjoyable charm, both from the series’ continuation of its appreciation for small town America as well as McQueen’s growth as a more humble champion. Cristela Alonzo is also a fairly welcome addition as Ramirez.

The movie also takes the genius idea of reducing the amount of screen time Mater gets. It’s a welcome addition, considering Mater’s humor (provided by Larry the Cable Guy) has grown a bit tired. However, not enough new characters are developed enough here. Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), the latest champion in the movie, is played far too one dimensional.

Like most Pixar movies, the animation is fantastic. The world, including the terrain, all looks real and the characters are all very glossy and smooth making it appealing on the eyes. When the action pops on screen during the racing, it’s solidly entertaining.

“Cars 3” does somethings alright and it can entertain a family for roughly two hours. Yet this isn’t the sort of bookend to a series on the same level as “Toy Story 3,” for example. 2.9 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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