The Cars series has been considered the weakest of the Pixar productions especially Cars 2 is considered to be the worst Pixar movie by Buzz Lightyears (see what I did there?) So, I didn’t have too high of expectations for Cars 3 but I was interested based on the direction the trailers seemed to be taking with it. The movie does go back to its racing roots of the first and does try to tell a story with more heart but I think it falls a bit short. There were things I enjoyed about Cars 3 but then there are other things that really didn’t do it for me.
With every successive Pixar movie, you can tell they keep upping their game when it comes to animation. While the cars themselves look relatively the same in terms of animation quality you notice it in the ultra-detailed environment like the dirt, mud, sparks, and sand. Everything you see beyond the cars looks incredible how it moves and looks.
Where Cars 3 fails for me is that it’s for the most part a very boring movie especially the middle portion. Nothing interesting happens for the longest time until you get to the final race. It fills this part with a lot of character development for both Lightning and Cruz but they’re not very interesting character arcs. I feel like this is where the usual Pixar magic could have come in. You could have built up a great deal emotion and attachment by going deeper into Cruz’s traumatizing first race and Lightning slowly coming to grips that he is getting older and that there are more fulfilling things to be achieved.
I loved Doc Hudson’s appearance and what they managed to do with his character even while only using old recorded dialogue from the first Cars due to Paul Newman’s passing. Without going into spoilers too much I enjoyed how Doc was still inspiring and showing Lightning what it means to be a racer and that it’s not all about winning a race on your own. On the flip side, I thought Jackson Storm was a terrible villain he was barely on screen and there was hardly an actual rivalry that was developed and we were mostly just told how imposing he was through news reports throughout the movie. I didn’t hate him or want Lightning to beat him as much I feel like I should have. The twist ending to this movie did feel a little forced to me. I really did like the outcome and I think it sends a great message but felt it was put in there as social commentary.
Cars 3 wasn’t your usual Pixar gold standard but it was a good attempt at a heartfelt story. I appreciated what it was trying to do and say but it just wasn’t well executed. I really wanted Cars 3 to be good and they made more of an attempt with this one than they did with 2 for sure but ultimately I think there’s only so much you can do with talking Cars. Also let’s be real the only reason there are even three of these and only one Incredibles is because of the number of toys it sells which is a shame. Cars 3 isn’t terrible and I do think kids will enjoy it but as far as the emotional punch of other Pixar films it just misses those opportunities.