Cars 3 (2017)

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Lightning McQueen returns as he is on the brink of being forced into the last thing he ever expected in this third installment of the hit Disney/Pixar film series.

He has conquered many races over the years but it looks clearly that Lightning McQueen’s time as the hottest racer on the track is coming to an end. Newcomer Jackson Storm has become the rookie of the year as he hands McQueen his first loss in years. Despite McQueen’s determination to end the current season on a high note, McQueen’s overzealousness lands him to crash hard on the final race of the season.

Four months has passed and McQueen has suffered greatly, living like a recluse in Radiator Springs. However, when some words from longtime friends Sally and Mater inspire Lightning to give it one more shot, he finds himself going to the Rust-eeze Training Center. He has learned that the company is now owned by Sterling, a longtime fan of McQueen. McQueen’s new trainer is Cruz Ramirez, whose methods don’t go well with McQueen at first. However, McQueen makes a deal with Sterling involving an upcoming race in Florida. If Lightning loses, he will retire. However, if he wins, he will retire when he is ready to do so. Will Lightning be able to go on the comeback trail?

It has been eleven years since the first film and six years since the second film and it is clear that Lightning McQueen is truly on the brink of being forced to retire. In an age where technology in cars have shot up to an all-new high, McQueen’s old school tactics don’t seem to work out for him as it used to be. Directed by Brian Fee and written by the trio of Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich, the film takes a somewhat Days of Thunder approach with a twist where a champion racer is clearly finding himself under threat from a newcomer and goes on the comeback trail for one last race.

Owen Wilson once again voices Lightning McQueen, but a welcome addition to the team is comedienne Cristela Alonzo as Cruz Ramirez, who is an expert in the new technology and attempts to help Lightning understand the rigorous and necessary training needed to compete in today’s age. Alonzo does get to pull off some hilarious moments during the first training scenes but eventually warms up to McQueen, forming a bond that truly will develop from a trainer-trainee relationship to a friendship that will make an impact in the film.

Armie Hammer’s Jackson Storm is reminiscent of Parker Stevenson’s Aubrey James in Stroker Ace. The character is a smarmy, arrogant newcomer who knows he can retire all the veterans, but does it by playing mind games with those he comes across. Many of the original cast members return but seem to have more of extended cameos, from Larry the Cable Guy as Tow Mater and Bonnie Hunt as Sally. Nathan Fillion is another welcome addition as Sterling, the new Rust-eze owner who has a fixation for McQueen as a fan who sees him as the face of Rust-eze, with a possible price. Chris Cooper is great as Smokey, the mentor of Doc, “The Hudson Hornet”, who in the original film as immortalized by the late Paul Newman, was Lightning’s original mentor.

Cars 3 is a film full of driven (pun intended) performances by the cast with a meshing of Days of Thunder and Stroker Ace in terms of certain characters and themes involved in car racing. It’s clear that Lightning McQueen is not going anywhere anytime soon.

WFG RATING: B+

A Disney/Pixar Production. Director: Brian Fee. Producer: Kevin Reher. Writers: Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich; story by Brian Fee, Ben Queen, Eyal Podell, and Jonathan E. Stewart. Cinematography: Jeremy Lasky and Kim White. Editing: Jason Hudak.

Cast: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Nathan Fillion, Lea DeLaria, Kerry Washington.

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