Lightning McQueen must find a way to adapt in the new world of racing in the latest sequel from Pixar, Cars 3, which arrives on blu-ray this week. Come inside to check out my thoughts on the week's new release in my full review!
Every kid has that one movie they have to watch over and over again. Something about it imprints on them, and they feel a compulsion to watch until parents can recite it in their sleep. For me, it was Lion King and Star Wars; for my son it was Cars. Pixar has always been big in my house, but something about Cars really stuck with him, which meant I watched it a LOT.
While I enjoyed the first film, I never felt it was one of Pixar's best, and Cars 2 was 'meh' to the point my son hasn't watched it more than a couple times. Even with the less than stellar second outing, the Cars brand remains one of Pixar's most recognizable, and since the announcement of Cars 3, the filmmakers have made it clear they wanted the third film to be the best. It's most certainly a step forward than the second one, leaving behind many of the conflicting themes and flat jokes. In many ways, however, it's a film that feels like it speaks to the adult audience more than the kids.
The film is ultimately about Lightning McQueen coming to terms with his own limitations and realizing his place in the "new" world. As a new generation of technologically advanced race cars come on the scene, his efforts to stay ahead causes him to crash and require rehab. It's during this period of time we meet Cruz Ramirez, who wants to race, but is held back by her own baggage. In her, Lightning finds new purpose and ultimately learns how to move on from the winner's circle.
As I said, the themes here feel more adult, and are likely to go over the heads of younger viewers. It's all about acceptance of the passage of time and finding a way to cope while discovering new pathways. It's something I found myself enjoying quite a bit and the ending keeps this theme going without pulling punches. It's the kind of frankness that Pixar is known for and I appreciate how they stepped it up for Cars 3.
There's still plenty of fun for the kids as well. Despite the overall message, the movie is packed with the fast action, and goofy puns/jokes the franchise is known for. It's a lofty theme rolled into a very family friendly package. I certainly enjoyed it more than the second Cars film and the kids did as well.
If you felt put off the franchise by the second film, I think you'll find some good reason to come back for this one. It's got the humor and action to keep you engaged, with a message that's infinitely more poignant than what's come before in this series.
Sight and Sound
Cars 3 is gorgeous. There's no denying how amazing Pixar's animation is constantly amazing and top of the field. They bring the same glorious attention to detail with Cars 3 as they always have and the blu-ray transfer does an excellent job of highlighting it. Disney has always released impressive blu-ray transfers, and there's no skimping going on here.
The picture quality is stunning, with everything sharp and crystal clear. One of the best things about Cars 3 (from a visual standpoint) is its use of colors. Virtually every hue you can imagine is present in the film (something the franchise has always done well with), and the blu-ray makes each of them pop.
The sound design is given great attention here as well, with the film making you feel as though you're in the center of these big races. The dynamic range of the sound makes it so you can hear the more muted zoom of the cars on the laps 'behind' you, with the huge roar as they come around the corner. Even with all this going on, the dialog is given excellent priority and I never felt like one audio track was drowning out another.
From a technical standpoint, there's absolutely nothing to complain about on the Cars 3 blu-ray. It's excellent all around and could easily be one of the blu-rays you use to highlight your entertainment setup at home.
The Special Features
As always, Disney doesn't hold back when it comes to the bonus features for their blu-ray releases. Cars 3 comes loaded with a bunch for you to check out on not just one, but TWO discs (some on the movie disc, with the rest on a separate blu-ray):
Miss Fritter's Racing Skoool
Ready for the Race
Cruz Ramirez: The Yellow Car That Could
Behind the Scenes:
Generations: The Story of Cars 3
Let's. Get. Crazy.
Cars to Die(cast) For
World's Fastest Billboard
My First Car
There's a lot to go over, but I don't think kiddos will care a whole lot about what there is to offer. The Lou short film is a lot of fun to watch, and the interview with William Byron about real life racing is something younger audiences could certainly enjoy...but overall, these are special features film geeks (like me) will like most. The behind the scenes/making of featurettes feel comprehensive, offering a good look at the animation process and how new characters are brought to life.
All in all, they offer up a lot of extra content for the money, but I doubt your family will be clamoring to watch them.