Movie Review: “Cars 3”
Lighting McQueen (Owen Wilson) has been the number one racer for a long time. One day, a new breed of race car has emerged in the form of Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). Storm suddenly makes his presence known by defeating McQueen with ease. Storm is much younger, must faster and proves to be more than McQueen can handle. With every race, more "new breed" cars begin replacing the older ones. This starts talk of Lightning McQueen's retirement which (naturally) bothers McQueen. Refusing to accept defeat, McQueen pushes himself to the limit and suffers a tragic accident. This begins Lightning McQueen's story as he is forced to take a hard look at his career and his mortality. This is when he meets Cruz Ramirez (Christela Alonzo) who becomes his new trainer as the two attempt to bring Lightning McQueen back to the top. Can McQueen fight his way back and defeat Jackson Storm or could this mean the end of his racing career?
The Pros & Cons
The Plot (+8pts)
Visual Effects (+3pts)
The Climax (-3pts)
Cruz Ramirez (+5pts)
Pro: The Plot (+8pts)
I really enjoyed the plot for most of this movie as it hit a theme that I did not expect from an animated movie. In Cars 3, Lightning McQueen struggles with the concept of old age. He simply is not fast enough to keep up with the younger, more powerful cars and it is a fact that hits McQueen hard. He has been the fastest car ever since he debuted, and in one sudden moment a new car forces him to think about retirement. Lightning McQueen is also introduced to a younger car named Cruz Ramirez and he becomes her mentor (of sorts). This was a well written story that deals with real life issues such as forced retirement and mortality. This definitely had me interested throughout the movie.
Con: Demographic (-3pts)
One question I have, regarding this movie, is "who is this movie for?". It's an animated kids movie so obviously should be geared at kids. The plot, however, was definitely an adult plot and the concepts will definitely go way over a lot of kids heads. Do you think kids will understand a movie about retirement and mortality? This ns especially confusing for kids when you consider the fact that a Lightning McQueen does not look any older than he did in the previous movies and he does not look any older than the "young cars". I felt like this movie tried to do what Toy Story 3 did and make its story with more "adult" concepts since it's demographic from the first movies had now grown up. However Toy Story 3 used Andy growing up masterfully in a way that spoke to audiences of all ages. I unfortunately think that Cars 3 speaks more to adults than kids.
Pro: Visual Effects (+3pts)
I very much enjoyed the visual effects in this movie. The background and scenery looked very real and impressive. The movie balanced a very real looking background with cartoonish characters with the cars and I thought the balance worked well. My only visual complaints were that cars' headlights looked like stickers and that Lightning McQueen looked no older than he did in previous movies while the plot focused heavily on his age. These issues were very easy to get past when the visuals looked so excellent for the entire movie.
Con: The Climax (-3pts)
So the plot of this movie was very well written dufht up until the climax of the movie. A decision is made by Lightning McQueen that is made at a completely random time. My issue is not with the decision itself, but more with when that decision is made. It utilizes a rule that had not previously been setup so felt like a forced plot device. The decision also interrupts the flow of the climax of the film. The movie's finale is going well, the audience is invested, then Lightning McQueen goes "wait..." and the movie interrupts the climax to give more rising action that then builds to another climax. I am sure this sounds weird if you have not seen the movie but, trust me, it's even worse when you are watching the film. That decision could have (and should have) been made before the climax began so that he did not interrupt the flow of the movie.
Pro: Cruz Ramirez (+5pts)
This was the secondary storyline of the movie and, I thought, it complemented the main storyline well. Lightning McQueen is a champion race car being forced into retirement but decides to train like the young cars to save his career. Cruz Ramirez is a young car, trainer of young race cars, and is a wannabe race car herself. Then the two meet and their storylines develop simultaneously and complement each other well.
Con: Cluttered (-4pts)
Cars 3 introduces a handful of new characters such as Jackson Storm, Cruz Ramirez, Sterling and Smokey (just to name a few). The movie also tries to keep all of the side characters from the previous movies. The result? Way too many characters. Jackson Storm also gets little to no development in this movie. He basically could have been taken out of the movie all together and the movie would have been no different. It is fine if you want the old characters in a movie and it is fine I'd tit want new chatacters but, if you have too many, all of them suffer. The new characters feel generic and the old characters feel forced into the story.
Grade: B- (81pts)
I thought Cars 3 was a decent movie. It has an interesting plot with two storylines that complement each other pretty well. The visual effects were impressive as it showed animated characters in real-looking environments in a way that worked well on screen. The movie did have its problems. The most obvious was the demographic issue. The movie has a well written plot that I think adults will get but will go over kids heads. The climax of this film was a mess and interrupted the flow of the film and there were way too many characters squeezed into the movie to the point where all of them suffered.
This movie has its problems but I think it barely ended up being a good movie. That being said, I do not think audiences should feel the need to rush out to theaters to see it. Would the concepts of the plot will most likely go over kids heads, I think there is enough in this movie for kids to enjoy. If you have kids, I recommend renting this movie when it comes out on home video. Otherwise, you can probably skip this one.