The Cars franchise is set to be the biggest Pixar trilogy since Toy Story (bearing in mind that it is the only trilogy since Toy Story, and that trilogy is about to become a foursome). And with quite an accumulation of excitable fans, a new Cars film will always make tracks in the cinematic world (although the convoluted Cars 2 is best left in the dust. As someone who adored Cars on first release, to see it come to its inevitable conclusion exciting for me. Cars 3 is a genuinely good film but never revs up past average.
Cars 3 sees racer Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) facing his biggest challenge yet: old age and retirement. Though still seemingly on top of his game, his fender is put out of joint by the introduction of suave and cool new racecar Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). McQueen's new rival represents the integration of "New-Gen" cars into racing; built to be speedier. Their arrival puts the older generation out to pasture but McQueen is keen to keep racing. Can he keep up with the newer models? Or is it time to retire?
It is great that this second sequel strips back the franchise to the soul of it all – racing. Gone are the complicated stories of espionage, and Mater’s role is sluiced down to a bit character, completely refreshing for those annoyed with his shtick. Cars 3 drives straight into the action, allowing for a quick attention grab of the audience. The upgrade into the future of automobile technology showcases the impact that growing old can really have. As the New-Gen series of vehicles start making progress, eventually out-racing McQueen, the beginning of the film is full of emotion and action.
However, it soon fades away. This good set-up is thrown away for a rather dull script and an incredible lacklustre final half. It was predictable at times, and, sadly, the boring elements outweigh the enjoyment. The final lap may be completely confusing for younger audiences, but the animation is completely stellar. Lightening McQueen, added to the fantastic voice work by Wilson, is a favourite for Pixar fans and children worldwide.
For someone who grew up with McQueen, this is an admirable, albeit tedious, second sequel.