CARS 3 is a REV-ving Good Time! Our CARS 3 Review

There’s an old adage – sequels are never as good as the original. That is so not the case with CARS 3! This film has a clear-cut story and as much heart as 2006’s CARS. The characters show so much heart and depth; and kids will love their toyrific designs. As far as Pixar sequels go this is a huge level-up in that playing field. Crossing fingers for WRECK-IT RALPH 2!

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While kids will immediately love the characters, grown-ups may feel the story strikes a nerve as it deals with passing your prime and the inevitability of growing older. Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is at the top of his game as the film opens, winning race after race. Suddenly a newer, sleeker sports cars Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer) begins to best Lightning time and time again on the race track. Jackson plays the part ironically that Owen Wilson played in Zoolander of a fan who finds pleasure in upstaging his mentor and reminding him that his time has past. McQueen tries so hard to regain his top spot that he loses control on the track and hurls through the air and crashes so that his metal frame is as crushed as his spirit.

After visiting the place where it all began, Radiator Springs, he realizes that he wants to be the one to call it quits and begins training again under a slick sponsor named Sterling (voiced by Nathan Fillion). Sterling, who also happens to be a big fan of Lightning, sees him as more than just a racer but a brand. In fact he’s so gung-ho about Lightning’s merchandising potential that he has already placed him on several pieces of items including his company’s specialty, mud flaps. (Nice inward look at merchandising by Pixar!) Sterling assigns Lightning to an ambitious new generation trainer by the name of Cruz Ramirez (voiced by comic Cristela Alonzo). But they won’t be training the old fashioned way where you get your tires dirty, they’ll be utilizing the new virtual reality simulators which rubs Lightning the wrong way.

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Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3”  © 2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

With some of the best racing areas in town, Lightning talks Sterling into letting them go down to the beach so he can show Cruz what real training should look like. Now he starts to feel alive again in a very Rocky III-esque scene! With inspiration from the Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns, No. 95 prepares to compete on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage.

Sally (voiced by Bonnie Hunt) doesn’t get much screen-time so I wondered how this film would appeal to the girls. Enter Cruz Ramirez. Cruz not only gets some play and backstory but owns much of the heart for CARS 3. During a heartfelt scene she reveals that even though she’s made it to the big-time being a trainer, she still has dreams that self-doubt has kept her from realizing. How does this change Lightning’s story? You’ll just have to watch and see. Biggest props go to Cristela Alonzo for making us think of Cruz as a real live character instead of just a car.

ROAD TO VICTORY — When faced with a new generation of racers who threaten to derail his career, Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) teams up with tech-savvy, unconventional trainer Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo) to find his way back to the top. Directed by Brian Fee, produced by Kevin Reher and co-produced by Andrea Warren, Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3” opens in U.S. theaters on June 16, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

ROAD TO VICTORY —  Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3” opens in U.S. theaters on June 16, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The cinematography of CARS 3 is incredible. First-time director and John Lasseter protege, Brian Fee, had a clear vision of the look and feel of the film. CARS 3 felt alive with a blend of photo-realism and animation. There were times when the atmosphere during the race in the woods between Lightning and Cruz felt very real down to the shaky camera when the cars raced by and the dirt specs on the lens. Even Lightning’s slow-motion flip, spin and crash in the beginning made you wince in fear for this humanistic automobile. It’s hard to see our heroes get hurt, but when it looks as true, dark and gritty you feel yourself caring more for their safety and outcome. The camera style and films atmospheric depth made it feel like there was a live-action film trying to burst out from the animation!

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What happens in the end is something I won’t spoil here but it is heart-warming and kids should walk away with a great lesson they can use throughout their lives. I never felt like the film was ever preachy but there are so many good values wrapped up in this great film. I just wished Tow Mater got some more screen time, but the little that he is in this film had the kids in the audience in hysterics. The end leaves the franchise wide open for a sequel/spin-off that will include more prevalent girl power with enough room for everyone’s favorite anamorphic tow truck.

To learn more about that girl power, check out the CARS 3 Press Conference where empowering kids was a huge theme.

Disney Pixar’s CARS 3 is out in theaters June 16th – rev up your engines and head to your local cinema! For more family movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagramtwitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Richard & Sarah Woloski

Richard and Sarah Woloski are the co-hosts and creators of the Disney / Star Wars Podcast Skywalking Through Neverland. The husband and wife team strives to create a polished, positive and fun weekly show celebrating fandom. They also love writing for Adventures By Daddy. Find them @SkywalkingPod