I am not a fan of Pixar movies. They are too formalistic for me, ie. they religiously follow a formula making them so predictable that they become boring. But the first two Cars movies were fun, so I was excited to see what they'd come up with for number three.
Cars 3 is a 2017 action, family, 3-D animated film from Pixar. It's rated PG for mild violence and is appropriate for all ages.
Visuals. This film looks amazing. Pixar is the master of creating gorgeous 3-D graphics. From the characters to the backgrounds to the action, everything couldn't look better.
Racing Scenes. The racing scenes are extremely well done. They're fun, they're well filmed so you can see what is happening, and yet they manage to somehow put you into the driver's seat so you feel like you are on the track yourself.
Mentor Theme. The main theme and message of the film revolves around mentors and inspiring the next generation. The first 3/4 of the film involve Lightning remembering his mentor from the first film, Doc Hudson, and all that he learned. The last quarter focuses on Lightning moving into a mentor role himself.
Cruz Ramirez. The idea of the Cruz character, a wannabe racer who doesn't have a chance without Lightning opening the way for her, is a really smart direction to go. Unfortunately, they picked a lousy character for that role. Cruz is annoying, winey, unlikeable, and unbelievable as a racing champ. I wish the school bus had sent her to the big car lot in the sky.
Weak Villains. The new rookies are supposed to be the villains of the film, but they aren't very mean and don't spend much time on screen, which is unfortunate, because they have so much potential. The filmmakers had two choices: portray the rookies as truly mean bullies (the obvious less interesting route) or show them as the misunderstood cool new generation that doesn't mean to cause problems but do. Unfortunately, Pixar took a very walk-on-eggshells approach afraid to make them too mean and not willing to make them misunderstood ultimately making them lukewarm villains at best. A hero is only as good as his villain, and these villains that should have been so awesome were unnecessarily weak.
Lack of Conflict and Peril. I never once worried that Lightning wouldn't come out on top. None of the obstacles were that hard for him to overcome. It cheapened his victory at the end.
Moping. Lightning spends most of the movie moping. It really slows the pacing down to where it feels like the film is dragging much of the time. It reminded me of the second Twilight film. Not really what I'm looking for in a fun family flick.
What I Would Like to Have Seen
I wish the movie had better utilized and developed the villains into a true threat. I wish there was real peril for Lightning to face and actual struggle to overcome the obstacles. I wish they had replaced Cruz with a character the audience could actually like and root for instead of against.
Cars 3 is an entertaining flick that brings a nice conclusion to the story begun with the first film. The racing scenes are amazing, and the theme of mentors is fitting and well developed. Unfortunately, the new villains are weak and not menacing, and the new hero is so unlikeable you want to see her fail and are disappointed when she succeeds in the end. I give it 3.5 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.