My opinion right after watching the film
My opinion right after watching Cars 3 is that…… it was everything I was expecting. Got a lot of emotional and pleasing moments, and the plot was good enough. My main issue with it is that they keep on blatantly hinting how the movie is going to end, so some of the momentum is there. Also, I know Cars 2 was a bad film, but blatantly ignoring it is not the way to go. It still exists, and canon discontinuity isn’t a good look. Also, I was having way too many reminders of Toy Story through the film. Cute for what it is; good but not great, etc.
There were talks about the film way back in 2013, when one of the voice actors mentioned it on a radio show, but nothing was confirmed until March 2014. The official production for the film started in 2014, and there were early reports that the film would tie into Doc Hudson’s relationship with Lightning McQueen. John Lasseter then made a statement in 2016 about how the film is “all about Lightning, and his journey of fighting his way after a mid-life car crash”.
The film starts with Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) having a friendly-competitive banter between his racing friends, and we get a sequence where more and more of the veteran racers are being replaced by technology-advanced racers, and the most aggressive (and best) one is Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), who ends up becoming Lightning’s rival. Everyone in the media is telling Lightning to retire like everyone else, but he refuses to. This leads to the culminating moment of Lightning’s car crash, after trying to out-speed Storm. This was all over the trailers, and the actual scene in the movie is a lot more gut-wrenching than I thought it was going to be. So damn graphic. And to the people who are complaining about the fact that he did not die….. Are you serious? You really expected them to kill their main character in debatably Pixar’s biggest franchise? Get over it.
We then go back to Radiator Springs 4 months later, and Lightning has a conversation with Sally (Bonnie Hunt), where she tells him that he needs to do something about his fate, and to leave his room, especially since he tells her that he does not want his career to end like Doc Hudson’s did, since the late car was told by the industry that it was over, instead of Doc making that decision for him. Hint, wink, nudge. Lightning makes some calls that he wants to train like Storm, so he can bat him in the new season, so Lightning is sent to the Rusteze Racing Center in order to work on the new machinery that will help him train. Here, he meets the new owner of Rusteze in the name of Sterling (Nathan Fillon), and the trainer named Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).
There are a bunch of age puns that are directed towards Lightning, and it was not funny to say the least, and got quite old after a while…… meaning very quickly. Cruz gives Lightning menial tasks, since he is not ready to go on the simulator, but of course Lightning rushes it, and disobeys her, which only causes him to break the simulator and to crash into it. Sterling then politely tries to get him to retire, and to create a franchise of merchandise around Lightning, since he needs to think about a brand. He of course does not take the offer, and demands to practice on the beach, which Sterling only agrees to if there is someone else with him. Of course this is an excuse for Cruz and Lighting’s relationship to develop, and we quickly learn that despite Cruz being a trainer, she has little to no experience at racing, since she continues to get stuck in the sand. He ends up training her for most of the day, and despite wasting most of his day, he decides that they should go to a racetrack by a nearby town. This ends up being a demolition derby, which Cruz ends up winning only due to many lucky circumstances. Lightning is pissed because his day has been wasted, and lashes out at her for not being a racer, and not being able to understand his pain. She retaliates at him, because all of her life she has wanted to be a racer, but knew she could not when she was about to start a race because of her gender, and being smaller than everyone else.
Lightning’s rival from the first film named Chick Hicks (Bob Peterson) became a sports reporter since the film, and takes every single opportunity to crap on his rival, as he is enjoying Storm eating him at every opportunity possible, and creating record-breakers along the way. Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) from Lightning, who asks him for advice, which ultimately lead Lightning to go find Doc’s best friend named Smokey (Chris Cooper). Lightning apologizes to Cruz, and they make it to Smokey, who shows him that Doc’s best time in his life was training Lightning’ not being an actual racer. I have to admit that the montages of Lightning and Doc are very nice, and add a brilliant emotional touch to the film. All of Doc’s friends help out, and create a new motor for Cruz to be the same speed as Storm, which not only gets Lightning fuel to outsmart the other racers, but for Cruz to get experience racing.
Right before the Florida Piston Cup race, Lightning does not beat Cruz again, and her initial excitement is crushed because Lightning loses faith in himself. They travel down to Florida, and Lightning is automatically put in the last spot because he missed most of the season. He is able to drive up to the mid-point in ranks, but ends up doing poorly once again when Sterling tells Cruz to go back to the facility, since she is only a trainer. Lightning demands that she comes back, and then decides that she is going to finish the second half of the race. His HUGE DECISION that is put into emphasis throughout the entire film is that he wanted to give Cruz a chance to be a racer, which it would be his last chance to do so, even to the detriment of his career. Both of them end up winning the race, since he started and she finished, and they both tell Sterling to screw off. The film ends with Dinoco (the sponsorship company Lightning wanted in the first film) bought out Rusteze, so both of the racers have new deals with them.
Overall, I like the message of the film. Friendly competitiveness is a good thing, since it comes from the appreciation of racing as an activity, and the camaraderie, though I think they push the message a bit too hard, because they lose a decent amount of plot elements because of it, and they take away a lot of the suspense because the ending is given away so early on. It is not that dark of the film, and it resonated me regarding the setting, themes, and the character drama. Cute for what it is, I might enjoy this more than the first Cars, but it is still not one of my favourites.
I always find it really difficult to talk about the characters in the Cars franchise, since there is such a ridiculous amount of them, but a lot of them have little to no role in the film either. This sadly fits the character that have been in all three films like Mater and Sally. All they do is support Lightning, while Chick Hicks just completely shat on him at every opportunity possible. Now with the newer characters, Sterling is the typical business man who wants to be the most profitable, etc. Jackson Storm is the arch rival of Lightning, and I feel like it was a bit contrived. The excessive hatred out of nowhere was a bit much, and Jackson is almost a non-entity as a character. Just the generic egomaniac. Sterling was fine enough, though I was expecting more. Lightning was brilliant in this film, as he was very easy to sympathize with, despite being a very flawed person. Cruz Ramirez is a good enough character, and is a bit more of an annoying Dory. Take that what you will.
I really do not have much to say about the animation because it is brilliant, as usual. The settings were what impressed me the most with the animation, whether it was the new training facility, or the older towns. How they designed the older and newer cars gave off a brilliant contrast to see and compare.
The music was very…….. distracting. Within the first few minutes, I thought I was listening to the Toy Story franchise scores. It is good, but I should not be taken to and reminded of another movie (or sets of movies) as much as I was in the film. It was even worse because with the Doc Hudson scenes, they played the same score regarding Bo Peep and Andy, so then I was thinking about Toy Story 4. I wished there was more country-themed scores, but the score in itself isn’t bad, but just a bit distracting.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on June 16th, I can’t comment on the amount of money it made (since it was just yesterday), but it’s projected to make $60 million this weekend, and open at #1.
Regarding the reviews, it has received mixed reception; lower than Cars, but higher than Cars 2. Many people complain about it being another useless, derivative sequel that is way too kiddy, while others liked the amount of heart that was put into the film, and liked it.
= 29/40 = 73%