General Review: Cars 3

Pixar would never make a 3rd film after the critical failure of 2”-Me, January 2014 (Planes Review)

Hello, Spongey here.

General review time again and this time we have this years Pixar entry. And it’s in what is clearly their best beloved franchise. Yeah, to follow up on a sequel people actually really liked, we have one that was faced with skepticism from Day 1.

On the bright side, they have another film later in the year with Coco so chances are if this one isn’t good enough, we’ll have an Inside Out/Good Dinosaur situation. But first, this.

Pixar’s franchise has of course had kind of mixed reception with the first being their first less than seller reviewed film since A Bug’s Life and the 2nd being their only film to be considered “Rotten”.

Unless you’re one of those people who think anything below a “10/10” is a “0/10” but whatever. Then there those Planes movies which we agreed to never speak of again. I took a look at them along with all the Pixar films at them way back in 2012 but it had been so long I decided to re-visit them.

Cars 1 is certainly flawed being overlong (Seriously, did you ever notice the film is an Hour 48 minutes without credits/epilogue) with some tired cliches it has a lot of that Pixar heart all over the place and it’s clear this was a passion project on John Lasster’s part.

I consider in the same level as the other B level Pixar films that all mostly are a high B what they get right.

As for Cars 2, I stick by what I’ve said before, I’m just more aware of the flaws. But I still maintain that if you think it’s actually “Awful” then you need to watch the many actually awful animated films out there, not even counting the ones released after that one.

Despite the reaction to it and the spin off, we have our third one to hopefully close out the epic trilogy. A lot of people were confused by this movie existence and at first it does seem odd as while Cars 2 made a profit, it hurt their reputation a bit too much to push forward.

But think of it this way: Their other recent films like Inside Out were a way to make up for their mistakes. But going back to the Cars franchise to do another good one there would be directly fixing their mistakes. See?

Then came the advertising, oh boy. The first trailer shows Lightning McQueen in a wreck and it was played very seriously, leading to tons of memes about him being dead. But more importantly, it made people think they were going in a darker direction with this one.

While we weren’t quite sure about that, we did know this would be going back to the routes of the first film which was all about simple small town life and character development instead of all that crazy spy nonsense.

That’s why I was looking forward to this, it seemed like a return to form and an interesting story in general. The reviews are coming in and it’s odd, the reviews are about what I expected: On par with the first one in terms of what people actually think, with a dash of being glad it’s not Cars 2.

But the RT percentage is 67 which is lower than the first one and all the “B” level Pixar films I mentioned. Yeah, The consensus is even decently positive, a bit too much for a mere 67. And that kids is why Rotten Tomatoes is pure garbage.

I’m not too worried given how people received other recent Pixar films. Did I ever rant about how this strange idea that Pixar has to make a 10/10 master piece every time or it’s a 0/10 garbage heap?

Well, if you want more on that someone I follow did a piece talking about that I highly recommend:

Anyway, quick look at the creative team. This is the director’s debut after working on some other Pixar films and of the 3 writers, one did nothing, one did Sports movies and one is is a Pixar veteran to the point where he voiced Dug in Up.

With everything leading up to this, while this makes up for Cars 2 and cross the finish line, or insert Car pun here? Let’s find out.

This, is Cars 3

NOTE #1: I really enjoyed the short, Lou, for this one. The concept of a living lost and found box is….weird and makes no sense but it’s really creative with what Lou does and even had some well done heart. It’s weird but another fun short.

NOTE #3: Usually I break my animated reviews down Ani-Mat style to keep things focused but this time, I’m not doing because I had too much to say about the writing and barely anything to say about the other sections. That’s normal but so much that I had to ditch them. Hopefully I can bring it back for the next one.

Spoilers, a Pixar movie looks good. These parts will be graded at the end.


Lighting McQueen is starting to be outdone by newer racers such as Jackson Storm and after a bad crash he’s ready to give up. But after some motivation, he decides to train in order to get back on track. But can he do it or is as washed up as everyone says he is?

They said this would go back to the roots of the first film and they did as the script is similar in terms of pros and cons. Not in plot, thankfully it’s not a rehash. First off, this movie really wants to make us forget Cars 2 happened.

It’s never so much as lightly referenced here, you can flat out watch 1 and 3 alone and not feel lost. As cool as that is, I wish perhaps they gave it’s few fans a bone or two. But that’s not a big deal.

I mentioned the pacing and length of the first film and that very much applies here. It’s not as long but much like the first film, it is longer than you may expect and is more deliberately paced.

The film takes a lot more to establish the situation and show how Lightning is progress and all that good stuff, just like how they showed him getting used to the town in the first film. It really shows just how oddly different Cars 2 was, that one arguably went against the themes of the first while this actually keeps and even builds on them.

However, I want to start with the negatives because the one negative about it slowing down like the film is that it now has the issues it had. Overall, I would call this a good movie and a return for the franchise but it does come with flaws that are kin d of just personal.

As I said, the pacing is deliberate. Despite the higher stakes plot, it takes it slow showing every step of how he trains to get back on top. But like the first, it leads to some padding and it makes the film longer than it needs.

I will admit I was zoning on sometimes in the mid section because it felt like it was a tad too slow for my tastes. Not so much so that I was bored, as the general situation and all that kept me invested but man, did they need to spice it up.

The film is a tad stuck tonally. The first was a slower story that still fit in Comedy, making it feel a bit less serious than most Pixar films but still kept their attention to story. Cars 2 is a full on action comedy.

This is closer to the first but it needed more Comedy or more serious moments. I wouldn’t call it a “Drama” but any means but it doesn’t quite mix in things enough to be the perfect blend like the Toy Story movies or even most of Cars 1.

I’m saying if you’re expecting a very serious film, or one that will make you laugh a lot, you won’t quite get that. Sure, tons of movie, even animated ones go for a simpler feel without being really dramatic or comedic.

I’m happy when a film does that and to an extent this does it well (I still like the film after all) but it could have been done better and just simply had either more comedy or more heavy hitting scenes/elements.

But like the first one, this is also a strength. It has elements clearly for kids but is able to be calmer and more thoughtful so that adults can get some appreciation. I personally never got why some think Cars 1 or even this one is dumbed down as I feel both films are family films.

The first film has more elements of kid appeal, or immaturity (“He did what in his cup?”), making this feel closer in tone to what Pixar does best. Lightning’s story is well told here. Yes, it is cliché like the original movie, it’s very Rocky Sequels-esque in terms of story.

But again, just like the first it does it for a reason, as this is a perfectly reasonable direction to take the franchise. High Tech rookies like Jackson are taking over and even flat out replacing his fellow racers with one having to retire as he can’t keep up.

On top of that, Jackson is beating him lately and everyone is saying Lightning is washed up compared to him. Then the crash happens, and this is the straw that breaks the …Car version of a Camel’s break.

It’s well thought out in thae way, setting up exactly WHY Lightning feels down and wants to get better. Heck, they compare this directly to Doc’s crash and how everyone pretty much he was done instead of giving him another chance.

I saw one reviewer claim Lightning is a dick as he just lost “one race” and is all down but uh…i hate to claim someone “clearly didn’t watch the movie” but….they clearly didn’t pay attention. See, I worded it differently.

The go out of their way to show why he feels like this, there’s a lot of factors. His fellow racers are being replaced, they don’t think he has it anymore and he was in a bad crash. That’s more than enough to make one think lowly of themselves and want to improve.

I’m not looking deep, this was clearly shown on screen, they spent the whole first act establishing this! I’m just saying, you should pay more attention before you make certain claims.

I will say one scene with Cruiz makes him waaay too dick-ish. I get why he feels this way but it wasn’t handled that well.

The best thing about this movie is Doc. Due to the death of Paul Newman, he was killed off between 1 and 2 but he only got one mentioned in 2 and that was it. It was a tad disappointing but they more than made up for it in this one.

Doc is in this a lot as Lightning is inspired by him in many ways. He wants to get back on top because the world turning their back on Doc made him the grump he became. Doc’s presence is felt here here and we get new clips of him using actual cut recordings of Paul Newman!

Doc was my favorite part of the first film as he helped bring in the heart and depth of the film and that applies here. It’s a really nice tribute they do and Doc helps motivation McQueen and it gives his journey depth.

This ties into the first film really well with where Lightning goes. Cruiz, Lightning’s trainer is a good character with how she wants to train him the modern way. She has a backstory that gives her depth which makes her likable and the best new character.

The climax takes an interesting direction that may divide some and perhaps can be seen as predictable in a way but I didn’t quite see it coming just because my mind was in other places by the time we got there.

I think it works really and makes perfect sense with this story. Although they do kind of cheat the conclusion a bit. Oh and yes, the story does lead to some good heartwarming moments. Oddly enough, nothing hit me too hard./

My heart was warmed at points but nothing came close to say, the Our Town sequence for example. That’s not a big deal but I was perhaps expecting a tad more given certain elements.

Oh, and yes, Mater is pushed back. They “Jar Jar’d the shit out of him” as Brad Jones put it. However, I think he still works pretty well. He gets one dumb but he’s as innocnectly loveable as I honestly think of.

I’m not sure where the idea of him being an asshole comes from as even in 2 he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone for the most part. He actually gets a really nice scene with Lightning which even helps forward the plot.

As a fan, I can say he was done well. Toned down yes, but still makes an impact in his way. ….That’s more than I can say for the other original supporting characters. Yeah, a lot of people didn’t like that certain characters stayed behind for Cars 2 but that had a better excuse due to being a Mater movie.

Some at least helped out in the climax. Here, Sally gets a moment but everyone else just gets some lines. They appear but don’t add a whole lot. Mack, the John Ratzenburger role gets more to do than in 2 at least.

I can live with it as we got a whole movie about Radiator Springs and it’s residents but with how memorable they are, I wish the sequels had more of them.

And as for my last point, I oddly thought the animated stood out more in the others with how 1 gave us tons of great landscapes around the town and the 2nd went around the world. Yes, we get plenty to look out here and it’s a great world visually but oddly enough, I’d rate the animaton on the others a bit higher. Weird.

Overall, Cars 3 is good. It’s a much more worth follow up to Cars than the first sequel by bringing it back to it’s roots with a more grounded story and deliberate pace. Lightning’s story is a cliché but still effective with interesting themes adults may be interested in.

Making Doc important is a great touch too. At the same time, the pace can make a bit duller than it should be and they should have chopped off some of the training especially with how much time they spend with spoilers, a 2nd trainer.

I also wish the original supporting cast had more to and Jackson wasn’t simply a device to make Lightning feel bad. It’s weird, it’s almost like it was built to be be better with the first by being a tad more focused with less bad humor but to be honest…i still like Cars 1 more.

Both are almost equal and this likely had more heart going into it, but it hit me hader with it’s small town charm and fun cast. That Our Town Sequence is still classic Pixar gold. Cars 3 tries hard enough but it oddly doesn’t quite get to that.

But not for lack of trying. All in all, Cars 3 was a another solid effort that really made an effort to be a good family themes with things anyone can appreciate.

It may not be as “Deep” in terms of what it goes through as other Pixar films but it has so much heart in here, it’s hard for anyone that doesn’t some weird huge bias against Cars to get into it in some way.

If you liked either of the Cars films at all, you will like this one for it keeps what you liked while adding to it and bringing things full circle. Fans of the franchise will enjoy this, how much depends on your preferences.

If you didn’t flat out like either it really depends on exactly why you did or how much you dislike. Some may like this or some may not, but may appreciate it more. It’s one of those movies I’d recommend seeing in theaters only if you truly want to.

I think it’s worth it but more skeptical people may want to wait until DVD/Streaming. It’s worth watching on some level but you don’t have to see it if you’re not sure. But as a fan of the series, I liked it.

It’s the sequel I wanted out of Cars 2, being more thoughtful and clearly tries harder to be a real movie. I enjoy 2 as a guilty pleasure but at times the script felt like a Direct to Video spin off but 3 is a real follow up.

As usual, take that for what it’s worth.

Animation: B+

Writing: B

Characters: B


Sorry this review was so weird and different. I had a lot of thoughts on the movie and I feel like the Ani-Mat style was too constricting this time. Still, I stand by what I say in terms of how I feel the film is.

Hopefully next time we’ll be back to normal with another part 3. Only this one looks less promising, at least to me. Hopefully it’ll be good rather than despicable.

(Is anyone shocked I’m skipping Bayformers 5 next week?)

See ya.


About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
This entry was posted in Animation, General Reviews, Pixar Reviews, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to General Review: Cars 3

  1. Pingback: Ranking the Animated Films of 2006 | A Taste of Spongey

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