“Cars 3”: Improved, but Still Lacking

cars 3

“Cars 3” is directed by Brian Fee and stars Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, and Armie Hammer.  The film is about Lightning McQueen attempting to compete with the new string of rookie racers who are built to be much quicker and smarter than him, as McQueen must face thoughts of retirement after a brutal crash.

2006’s “Cars” may not have been Pixar’s best, but it is still an incredibly enjoyable watch with lovable characters and an entertaining plot.  I cannot say the same with “Cars 2”, as this Mater Fest is undoubtedly the worst movie that Pixar has made to date, as it is a total mess with a weird story and, as I said, way too much Mater.  That being said, the teaser trailer to this movie was sensational and grabbed my attention, and while the other trailers didn’t wow me, I came in hoping that Pixar learned from its last mistake and didn’t just make a movie just to sell billions of dollars in toys like they did previously.

The Good

Visually, Pixar continues to raise the bar, as this is a gorgeous movie to look at from start to finish.  The races are executed stunningly, as are the shots of landscapes or historical events, and no matter what is going on within the story of this movie, the visuals continued to take my breath away with every single shot.  This is most obvious in the crash sequence, which is easily the best scene in the movie.  This is an amazing moment that is captured beautifully by the visual effects, and all of this combined with the emotional stakes made for a jaw-dropping sequence.

Owen Wilson continues to make the character of Lightning McQueen one that is a very solid protagonist, and one that is easy to root for, and he gives a terrific voice performance in his third effort.  Wilson, along with the writing team and Brian Fee make Lightning a much stronger character than either of the two films, as the themes of becoming a veteran athlete and being outdone by younger talent are brought together extremely well and make for a much more compelling story than the previous sequel.

While I was not crazy about the voice performance by Cristela Alonzo as the trainer, Cruz Ramirez, her character brings a much-needed emotional punch towards the middle of the movie that I thought went over extremely well and was one of my favorite moments of the entire film.  I also really liked Armie Hammer’s voice work as the hot newcomer, Jackson Storm, as, while pretty one-dimensional, he was an intriguing character and one that wasn’t as simplistic as I had thought he would be coming in.

“Cars 2” is terrible, and it seems that Pixar now realizes this, as the film is almost entirely written out in this movie.  I did not notice a single nod to a character or plot point from the 2011 sequel, and that is probably the best thing that this film could have done, as it shows Pixar may be trying to move away from the cash grab sequels and moving again towards high quality, original content.

The Bad

Sadly, that statement isn’t totally true, as “Cars 3”, while not rock bottom, is certainly a low point in Pixar’s filmography.  Much of the humor and many of the scenes throughout this movie just don’t hit as hard as they should, and it makes for a film that often just feels lacking in one way or another.  More than ever, Pixar really struggles to get a laugh, and it made for many painful silences in a theater full of children.

Mater has sucked since “Cars 2”, and he still sucks now.  Why Larry the Cable Guy, who is really named Daniel and has yet to ever have been a cable guy, is still in these movies is a damn mystery to me, as his voice is just nails on a chalkboard, and his comedic delivery is even worse than that.  While I do appreciate that they dialed him back to just a few scenes as opposed to being the lead character, I am still fully sick of this tow truck and want him gone forever.

The problem with many of the scenes is that they feel over the top to the point that they are almost cartoony, and yes, I am saying this about an animated film.  Pixar has made some of the best-animated movies of all time by making all of them feel down to earth and relatable, and this series, while getting a little closer, still fails to do that much at all with many of its absurdities and lack of grounded reality.

This is especially noticeable in the finale, as I found the concluding moments to be very unsatisfying overall.  I won’t spoil the ending, but a few directorial choices and one specifically ludicrous moment make all the tension and emotion that could have been there almost completely gone by the end credits.

Conclusion

“Cars 3” is a slight improvement over its predecessor but is still the second worst movie Pixar has ever made.  I like Lightning McQueen a lot, and there are beginning to be some smarter themes that have never really been in this series before, and the visual effects are some of the finest you will see, but there are still plenty of faults that keep this movie from shining with the rest.  Poorly written comedy is the flaw that hurts the most, but a lackluster ending, some moderately annoying side characters, and an overly ridiculous plot certainly don’t help its case much either.  Still, there is still a lot to like, but just not enough by Pixar’s lofty standards to recommend “Cars 3” to much more than your younger kids.

Badge-5.5

Get tickets and showtimes for “Cars 3” here

What did you think of “Cars 3”?  Comment below with your thoughts.


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