Disney and Pixar have enjoyed a celebrated partnership, creating cherished classics like Toy Story, Up and many more. One of the more popular franchises born from this initiative is the Cars series, which stars anthropomorphic automobiles with a vested interest in racing. The latest installment, Cars 3, launched on Blu-ray on Nov. 7. Is this a ride worth getting onboard with?


At its core, Cars 3 is an underdog story. Our main protagonist is Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), who reprises the role from the prior two films. While starting this movie as an expert champion, he and his peers are quickly upstaged by the next generation of racers, a movement which Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) is the frontrunner of. Lightning’s colleagues either retire or are dropped from their sponsorship deals, and he is ultimately unable to keep pace with the arrogant Jackson and succumbs to a serious accident, seemingly ending his career.

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Lightning, however, regains his will to race thanks to his girlfriend Sally (Bonnie Hunt) and the legacy of his former mentor, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman). He’s enrolled into a new, high-tech training program meant to provide him with the tools he needs for the next racing season, gaining a new sponsor in Sterling (Nathan Fillion). Here, he’s trained by his own personal coach Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), who becomes the film’s deuteragonist. After Lightning crashes into the driving simulator, he and Sterling come to an agreement: Lightning has one chance left. If he fails to win his next race, he must resign himself to a life of merchandising. Moreover, he has to bring Cruz with him to continue their training.

It was fun to see Lightning and Cruz juxtaposed with each other. Whereas Lightning struggled with her insular tests and simulations, she was conversely challenged by real racing, forcing Lighting to spend valuable time bringing her up to speed. Furthermore, unlike Lightning, Cruz wasn’t a racer, she was merely a trainer. She explains how her dream was to become a racer, but she lost her confidence when she arrived at her first race. She left before it even began.

Both cars inadvertently work their way into a demolition derby, wherein the two survive by quick thinking. They also enlist the help of Smokey (Chris Cooper), Doc’s old mentor. Through his specialized training, Lightning admits that he will never manage to match Jackson’s speed, and therefore must accept his limitations while surpassing them through other, more crafty means.

Without giving the ending away, both Lightning and Cruz overcome their internal doubts at the raceway, making peace with their respective futures. It’s ultimately a predicable film with jokes that tend to fall flat, but it’s a decent ride, especially for fans of the franchise. The voice actors did a respectable job with their roles, as did the CG artists.

The Blu-ray package comes with three discs; the film comes on both Blu-ray and DVD, and the third disc contains all of the bonus features, housing over ten features examining the film and its creation. Therein, fans can witness discussions from the production staff, with the “Generations: The Story of Cars 3” exposé being the main attraction. Other goodies included are deleted scenes and Cars 3 promos. A digital copy of Cars 3 is included, too.

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