Let me start by saying prior to going into this film, I enjoyed the first Cars movie and found it to be entertaining for what it was, despite it not being one of my very favorite Pixar films. I thought the concept of the film was fun with Owen Wilson proving to be perfect for the main character. Cars 2 was not only bad but represents the low point for Pixar. Whenever people ask when Pixar as a studio has screwed up movie wise, Cars 2 is immediately the first film that comes to mind although it's just one movie out of dozens. The studio struck cold last summer with Finding Dory's box office success and critical acclaim. One thing that Pixar is a master at outside of crafting good family stories, is they market their films to extreme with full confidence. They know the type of audience their reaching for and so far their strategy has paid off handsomely. Now we fast-forward to 2017 where we have Cars 3 as the studios main template, as well as being one of the summers biggest blockbusters and second biggest animated film next to Despicable 3. Going into it's initial theatrical release, Cars 3 had the tough act of trying to make up for the disappointment audiences felt with Cars 2 and be more of a direct sequel to the first Cars movie, not just in continuity but also box office and social stature. Having seen Cars 3, I can assure fans of the first movie who disliked the second and may be afraid to watch the third for fear that it'll suck that it doesn't.
Cars 3 is an enjoyable third entry in the popular Cars trilogy, that manages to recapture the heart of the first film while essentially ignoring the second movie altogether. The storyline for Cars 3 centers around Lightning McQueen setting out to prove to a new generation of racers that he still has what it takes to be the best race car in the world. Cars 3 is essentially Rocky lll with the parallels being Lightning McQueen deals with time passing by and wanting to still leave an impact in the racing world. With the help of a female car that helps him train in a style similar to Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed in the third film, McQueen goes on a rigorous training to prove that he's the best while giving the young female car a chance to prove her own worth after being inspired by him as a racer. The film having heart is one of the most important factors in regards to being a significant improvement over it's predecessor with the story being more consistent and easier to digest. The film feels like part McQueens film, but also carries with it a feminist undertone with yellow car named Cruz Ramirez to help McQueen get back to the top by working together with his training, but also have her moment to prove her own self worth on the track. Stating the obvious, the movie looks great in terms of animation as Pixar always makes their movies look great in regards to animation, while establishing themselves as the top animation studio to beat. Outside of the top notch animation, what makes Cars 3 work as a true sequel to the first film, is the films main story being both poignant and heartfelt with the message basically saying that even if a person can't do something they once were capable of any longer, they can still make a contribution to society. The story about McQueen pushing for himself to be competitive again as well as Cruzs desire to have a chance essentially tells the audience that they should believe in themselves as the bad can be used to turn into something good and a form of motivation. With the type of storyline Cars 3 holds, the once questionable Pixar franchise has not only found it's way back onto the main highway but might have some tread left in regards to being a piece of inspiration to young audiences in regards to it's message. The film erases the mess of the second and gives the third an emotional core that can essentially wrap up it's series on a strong note unless Pixar wishes to continue. As an attempt to reestablish the heart of the franchise, Cars 3 makes a strong attempt to return the series back to the form of the first one, even if the first movie wasn't exactly as strong as some of Pixar's other hits. It is the message of Cars 3, that makes it worthy of being praised with the film saying that there is no plan for growing old but it is up to you if you choose to give up or not.
Overall Cars 3 is a fairly strong sequel that tries it's hardest to take what originally was a fun storyline that lost it's way and bring it back to it's original form while adding a strong message to the series. Despite the obvious noble efforts of the newest film to inject heart back into the franchise, it does little to change the fact that the Cars franchise as a whole still stands far from being one of Pixar's finest achievements as well as it's best trilogy (That titled proudly is worn by the Toy Story trilogy). Whereas the first Cars movie has charm and the second one is heartless and hollow, the third movie has heart and is a blessing that it ignores the sequel that came in between. Cars 3 remains one of the stronger family films of the year as well as a worthy sequel to the first Cars. If one goes into the third movie accepting it for what it is, they will be satisfied by it. If one is a fan of Cars but was severely disappointed by Cars 2, rest assured they will find enjoyment with Cars 3 as it not only manages to entertain it's audience but leaves a great message behind it.