Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Heartwarming story
Cons: One inconsistency with the first film in one scene
The Bottom Line:
Lightning back on track
Sequel lives up to first film
Race out to watch it
“Race Cars Don’t Have Cell Phones.”
While I loved the original Cars, it took me a couple of viewings to warm up to Cars 2. When they first announced Cars 3, I wasn’t sure whether to be excited or not. Then came the preview with the cliffhanger, and I knew I had to see it. I’m pleased to say that I also loved it.
Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is in the middle of another winning racing season when the unthinkable happens – he starts losing. His new biggest competition is Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), a sleak newly designed race car that is not only younger but is more aerodynamic. Jackson is breaking the 200 mph barrier, something that Lightning has never quite reached.
In the last race of the season, something even worse happens – Lightning is in an accident. While he recovers during the off season, he has to wonder if it is even worth trying to come back.
Yes, I know. I’m doing the exact same thing that preview I complained about did. But there’s a reason that preview was so effective. It really is worth it to watch this movie and let the story unfold.
What we get is another heartwarming story. The focus is once again on Lightning. In fact, most of the Radiator Springs crew have very small parts here. Yes, that includes Larry the Cable Guy’s Mater. While I missed those characters, many of them do get a moment or two to shine, and those moments are enough to make you smile. They are just perfect.
With the focus once again on racing, this movie definitely feels like the first movie. There’s no spy story or international intrigue. Instead, it’s Lightning learning more about himself. Don’t worry, this isn’t a repeat of the first film. In fact, as much as I miss those Radiator Springs characters, seeing so little of them allows us to get a fresh story. Okay, so it was predictable, but I was having so much fun I didn’t mind.
The movie is slow in parts, and the kids in the theater where I was watching it seemed to get bored a time or two. Of course, those slow parts are the character development that makse this movie so good. I’d argue that adults will appreciate those scenes even if kids don’t.
The voice cast is absolutely fabulous. Yes, all the old characters are once again voiced by the same people. The new cast member who gets the most screen time is Cristela Alonzo who voices Cruz Ramirez. She and the other new cast members slip into this world seamlessly.
And the animation is outstanding. Some of the nature shots in the original Cars are still among the best computer animation has to offer, but this movie has some shots that rival those. You won’t be disappointed in that department.
However, I do have a nit to pick with them. They forgot one things they established for Lightning in the very first film. It’s only for a minute or two, and it doesn’t really matter, but it still bugged me. This is especially true since it is the reason that Sally calls Lightning “Stickers,” somethings she still does here.
Before the film, we get a new short – “Lou.” At first, this short seemed like it was going to be a retread of a scene from Toy Story, but it quickly grew into something more, and it became something really touching. Definitely arrive in time to see it.
And if you stay through the credits, there is a fun throw away scene with Mater as well.
If you were disappointed with Cars 2, put that movie out of your mind and go see Cars 3. If you were a fan of the first, I think you’ll find that this film is just as wonderful.