3 out of 5
After a sequel that somewhat fizzled, Disney is back again with “Cars 3,” and this time they get the engines revving again in a film that is closer to the entertainment levels brought on in the original “Cars” movie.
Pretty much the entire cast is back, as Lightning McQueen opens the film right where he left off — winning on the track and having a good time all the while. His fan base is still adoring, and his friends are ever loyal to the Piston Cup Champ and living legend. Even his competitors have become buddies, as the racin’ gang all have a good time pranking each other during post-race interviews.
As much fun as he’s having though Lightning is forced to come to terms with potentially being forced out by younger, faster and newer cars much like Doc Hudson had to face in the first film, with the exception being, Lightning is still racing and doesn’t feel like it’s his time to retire. New technologies, training techniques and all kinds of math are the rules of the road now, and they manifest themselves best in Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer). The young, cocky car is fast — faster than Lightning has ever been, and he along with other newcomers are pushing the older cars into retirement right and left.
As he is dealt loss after loss, Lightning not only loses his confidence, but when Rusteez (McQueen’s sponsor) is bought out by a billionaire looking to cash in on Lightning’s legacy AFTER he’s done — he is faced with a win or get out scenario.
Along with his new trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristelo Alonzo), Lightning sets out to recapture the magic he once had by going back to where it all began for Doc Hudson, his mentor and friend (still voiced by Paul Newman). As he slowly builds himself back into the racer he once was — Lightning is still faced with a win or lose scenario as the new season starts, against Jackson Storm who is getting faster each time he touches a track. Could the racing career of Lightning McQueen be over — or will he learn how to get back on top?
Again, this movie gets the “Cars” franchise back on track (excuse the pun), and though it’s not the original — new characters are introduced (which could spill into new movies) and the laughs are always present. It’s great to hear Paul Newman’s voice, and learn more about his character’s beginnings, along with all of the buddies he raced with — and Owen Wilson gives fun life to the great Lightning McQueen. Of course, Tow-Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) steals a few scenes, and the animation in this movie sometimes looks as real as anything you’ve ever seen. Not only does the cars’ technology get better, but Disney’s animation crew is still blowing things away, and breaking new ground. “Cars 3” won’t rank up there with the best animated movies of all time, but it’s summer time, and the movie is just fun. People may be getting tired of sequels, but Disney will safely earn its money back on this one.