Every dog has its day, and as time goes on, we’re just not as capable as we once were. It’s part of life. The world around us changes, and often, we find ourselves trailing behind, desperately playing a game of catch up. Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is dealing with this exact problem. He’s being outdone by a new generation of racecars, who have all grown up watching him race. In their eyes, he’s a veteran, even if he doesn’t want to see himself that way. New kid on the block Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) is taking the world by… well… storm. McQueen hits a low point in his career, ending it all with a fatal crash that forces him out of the competition. But Lightning refuses to give up. The crash isn’t going to keep him down, and he’s now more determined than ever to prove the world that he’s still the racecar he used to be.
To be the best around, Lightning needs to take things back to basics, and in a lot of ways, this represents the state of the franchise. Cars 2 lost its way, much like Lightning does, and Pixar are taking it back to where it all began to make something new and exciting. There are a number of parallels between this third film and the original, but in similar vein to both Creed and Star Wars The Force Awakens, Pixar use these similarities as a way of passing the baton down to a younger generation. Time is catching up to Lightning, and he uses what he learnt to teach Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo). Ramirez was a fascinating, often emotionally stirring character, whose arc is just as big as that of Lightning’s. She’s assigned to train Lightning, but the roles unwillingly reverse, and that’s one of this film’s greatest strengths.
Kids are going to love this movie. There’s so much they can draw from and be inspired by, like in so many Pixar films before this. They’ll be taught lessons that won’t necessarily be put to use until many years down the line, but will no-doubt leave an impression on them. It’s bright, funny and colourful. Every sequence is animated beautifully with a stylized realism. A roller derby sequence in particular is animated to perfection. It’s fast, exciting and features probably the best-animated mud I’ve ever seen on screen. But Cars 3 isn’t just for kids. The first films were aimed predominantly towards younger audiences, the second one in particular, but Cars 3 will resonate strongest with older audiences. It’s a film about accepting your age and coming to terms with the reality of your situation.
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