Plot: What’s it about?
I don’t think anyone would consider the original Cars to be one of Disney/Pixar’s better films. Sure, it was enjoyable and passed the time easily, but it just didn’t really stand out and resonate like so many of their efforts do. This factor was only heightened when the lackluster, Cars 2 arrived in the summer of 2011. I don’t know where to begin with that film. In many ways it did what sequels often do and try to give us more of the same and go bigger. Not only did it have a confusing spy themed plot, but Mater (Voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) became a main character. Let me just say that a little (VERY little) of that guy goes a long way. In all honesty, I can’t stand him or that character, but that’s me. Thankfully, Cars 3 goes back to square one and keeps Mater off screen for large portions and is actually about as good as the original film. If this is indeed the last of the Cars films then they went out on a high note, I must say. I’ll never consider it a classic in the Disney canon, but it rights a lot of wrongs where its predecessor left a bad taste in our mouths.
Growing old is simply a part of life. We naturally age and our youth and prime is something that we can’t get back. Years after Lightening McQueen’s (Voiced by Owen Wilson) glory days, he starts to feel his age after his latest race. In fact, he suffers a near fatal crash that changes his perspective considerably. We then cut to four months later where we see McQueen wasting away in his old garage. He’s visited one day by his girlfriend, Sally Carrera who gives him a good pep talk and convinces him to get back in the game. McQueen fears that he might end up like his old mentor, Doc Hudson (he was voiced by the late Paul Newman in the original film) with him basically being forced to retire instead of by choice. He’s sent to a new state-of-the-art facility where they freshen him up and get him prepped for his next race. He meets Sterling, who runs the new racing facility. He wishes to use McQueen for product endorsements since he fears McQueen isn’t a valuable racer anymore. Instead, McQueen strikes a deal that if he doesn’t win this next race then he’ll voluntarily retire. And so the plot is set in motion.
One thing that works so well here is that this chapter has its heart in the right place. While this is obviously aimed at the young ones, it has plenty to offer for adults. I enjoyed some of the dialogue about how McQueen shouldn’t not try and instead of giving up, put forth an effort. The story this time is very poignant and concludes on a positive note. It never feels cheesy or overly sentimental, instead earning all that. Not only does it improve on Cars 2 (How could it not?), but it sits right up there with the original. I feel that if this is the last then they went out on a high.
Video: How’s it look?
It’s been a long-standing fact (yes, I use that word definitively) that most anything put out by Pixar or Dreamworks or any movie that’s computer-animated will look amazing. It doesn’t really matter the format, be it DVD, Blu-ray or in this case Ultra HD/4K. I’d recently reviewed Warner’s Batman and Harley Quinn and was scratching my head as to what, if any, difference there was between the Blu-ray and the 4K version. Nothing it would seem. I’m pleased to say that Cars 3 won’t leave you guessing as to where that extra money went – this is downright amazing. Each of the Cars films has looked great, but the 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image is second to none. Colors leap off the screen, visuals are so realistic that I had to pause the television on some of the arial shots to see if I could tell if they were animated sequences or not. The HDR really do come into play here and make this a worthwhile viewing experience. And I assure you, it is a viewing experience.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Though the included Blu-ray does’t get the bump up to the Dolby Atmos mix, if you sprung for this Ultimate Collector’s Edition you’ll be rewarded with one of the most dynamic and, dare I say it, loud tracks I’ve heard in a while. As we might expect, the Atmos mix is full throttle from beginning to end. Sounds spew out of every channel and really put you right in the middle of the action. Tires squealing, brakes applied and the high-pitched “whirrrrr” of the cars go by create a near dizzying effect that’s not to be missed. Vocals, and there’s no shortage of vocal talent here, are pure and rich. It’s an amazing-sounding track that’s not to be missed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The Ultra HD/4K disc contains no supplements. The extras are spread across the other two Blu-ray’s in this three disc set.
Disc Two – Blu-ray
- Lou – A Pixar short about those little things lost at the playground coming to life.
- Miss Fritter’s Racing School – Another short film about cars wanting to learn how to reclaim some of their former glory.
- Ready for the Race – Professional race car driver William Byron discusses his life on the fast track (literally).
- Cruz Ramierz: The Yellow Car that Could – A closer look at the new character/car for the film and its inspirations.
- Audio Commentary – This is a full house as Director Brian Fee, Producer Kevin Reher, Co-Producer Andrea Warren, and Creative Director Jay Ward all sit down for a chat about the film. They discuss some of the character motivations, what they wanted to accomplish and how they made it all come to life (so to speak).
Disc Three – Bonus Disc
- Behind the Scenes – A series of six short feature titles that explain various aspects about the film, the making of and some of the inspiration that brought Cars 3 to life.
- Generations: The Story of Cars 3 – For the story team, creating Lightning McQueen’s next chapter didn’t involve just a tune-up, but a complete overhaul.
- Let’s. Get. Crazy – Hosted by Lea DeLaria, we “get schooled” in the world of demolition derby, the “rules” of figure 8 racing, and how Pixar puts the crazy in the Thunder Hollow Crazy 8 race.
- Cars to Die(Cast) For – Take a look at the phenomenon of die-cast toy collecting and the more than 1,000 unique designs that exist in the Cars universe.
- Legendary – A close, historical look at the racing legends Wendell Scott and Louise Smith, whose tenacity and perseverance got them into the race even when they weren’t invited.
- World’s Fastest Billboard – Blink and you will miss all of the graphics and “car-ified” advertisements created by Pixar’s Art team to make the Cars 3 world as believable as possible.
- Fly Throughs – A trio of “drone-esquire” views of the world from the film. Three different picturesque locales are featured.
- Florida International Speedway
- Rust-Eze Racing Center
- My First Car – Another trio of talent from the film reminisce about their first car.
- A Green Car on the Red Carpet with Kerry Washington
- Old Blue
- Still in the Family
- Deleted Scenes – Available with an introduction, five are featured.
- The Boogie Woogie
- Lug Nuts
- Jars of Dirt
- The Bolt
- More Than New Paint
- Trailers – Five from North America as well as International are shown.
- Promos – A couple of entertaining short segments that help promote the film. I think.
- Cars D’Oeuvres
- Car Reveals
The Bottom Line
With its heart set firmly in the right place, Cars 3 becomes an effective and moving third entry. I won’t consider this series to be one of Disney’s best, but it works well enough. It also acts as something of an apology for the lackluster second chapter. Recommended.