Top positive review
Lightning's not as fast as it used to be but it can still strike twice.
Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2017
There's a few things that you should know as you approach what may be the final lap of Disney/ Pixar's "Cars" franchise:
> "Cars 3" largely ignores "Cars 2".
> 3 is more of a sequel than 2 was.
> 3 makes a nice bookend with the original "Cars" and though it doesn't quite have the original's unique charm the charisma is close and the story feels like a natural extension of the franchise starter.
> The talented voice cast returns but if you're looking forwarded to a lot of interplay from them, you'll likely be disappointed, especially Mater fans.
> This is a vehicle for Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) however he ends up sharing a fair share of the spotlight with Cruz (voiced by Cristela Alonzo), a female car who is introduced as a trainer for the fading Lightning McQueen, and whose story arc is just as important as and tightly entwined with his. She's a likable c(h)ar(acter) and she and McQueen have an easy chemistry.
> For anyone like me who initially saw the previews and was a little concerned that the visuals were going to make the film feel gritty and make the story feel more like a heavy story, don't worry. While the visuals are punched up and a lot more realistic at a few times during the races, which does give weight to a few important moments, the visual feel is much more akin to the original "Cars" movie but maybe a bit more organic. It works.
"Cars 3" plays to middle America...and the coasts. The movie has a southeasternly charm (Owen Wilson's laconic drawl helps with that) and a muddy motor truck sportage grit that will likely appeal to many American moviegoers, especially in middle America and NASCAR country, but east and west coasters will also appreciate the story for the sentiment and the satirizing of a culture all about constant progress as especially centered around our trust in (and sometimes suspicion of) technology. The heart of this movie is not in making ourselves better via a makeover, but realizing the innate potential that our beating hearts and internal drives bring to the track. Win or lose, that's what really counts. McQueen still is in love with Sally, and with racing. He certainly doesn't mind winning and more often than not does but his star dims when a brash young upstart, sporting the latest hardware and cutting edge technologies, literally drives by him without him even noticing the young buck in his rearview mirror. Much is made about how McQueen is aging out and it's only a matter of time before the former generation (his) will be replaced by the new generation (hotshot racer Jackson Storm in this case). Storm is cocky and, of course, overly confident which actually belies a secret insecurity that he has but Storm as the antagonist is a pretty one dimensional driver. When he is (SPOILER) beaten in the end we don't really care about him, because the film didn't take the time to make us care or flesh him out (contrast this to the Pixar short that opens before "Cars 3" which reviews a bullies' bad schoolyard behavior but treats him with sympathy and hope ultimately). But we can admit that we didn't come to see the hot new cars, we came to see Lightning McQueen, and that we do, that we do.
"Cars 3" is a complimentary piece to "Cars" and the two fold into each other nicely. It may not be a necessary sequel, and it isn't as good as the original (and we don't spend near enough time in Radiator Springs) but it's worth a view if you enjoyed the enthusiastic original.