Friends, we have finally arrived at the final film in the Cars trilogy, Cars 3. Perhaps after realizing that Cars 2 (2011) failed to successfully entertain a majority of the fans by switching up the narrative (no disrespect if you enjoyed it!), Cars 3 returns to focusing on Lightning McQueen as its main protagonist. And that’s a good thing! At least in my opinion, because what I’m here for is to see more racing and more growth from McQueen as a racer. Thankfully, that’s more or less exactly what we get out of this third and final film. With Owen Wilson returning to voice this beloved racecar one last time, he’s joined by a whole set of new actors such as Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathon Fillion, and Armie Hammer.

[Please note this review contains spoilers; read at your own discretion]

Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez training before the race

Taking on a more mentorship type of role, Cars 3 allows the audience to see Lightning McQueen in a completely different light. No longer the lightning fast racecar to beat, McQueen has to face a whole new generation of high tech racecars who all seemingly want to push him into retirement (yeah, they’re all pretty douchey). This feeling of “being out of touch’ with the younger generation is something I’m sure many audiences could relate to and allowed the film to have a more sentimental feel to it than before.

While I liked the direction that they went with for this film (getting to see a much more mature and wise McQueen), I still wished that we could’ve seen more of his racing while he was on top. Of course, with the second film taking that away from us, it kind of feels like we only got to see the past and future of McQueen without ever really getting to witness his prime. Still, it was cool to see how McQueen was turned into an underdog of sorts in this story, and it was fun predicting whether or not he could achieve his goals.

Jackson Storm talking to Lightning McQueen

I can’t deny that I found the premise of Cars 3 to be incredibly sweet thanks to the relationship that forms between McQueen and Ramirez. Ramirez, though annoying at first, turned out to be a great addition to the story. Although I was a bit sad to see that McQueen didn’t finish the race himself and had Ramirez complete it for him, I appreciated the message behind his actions and thought it was a wonderful way to give him some new development. The training montage between the two was fun and entertaining to watch, and I liked the way that they subtly showed off Ramirez’s racing talents one by one so that the plot wasn’t too predictable.

The last thing I wanted to say about Cars 3 was how amazing the animation looked. After having seen Cars (2006) just a couple days prior, the change over time has been truly remarkable to witness. I remember pausing the movie at certain points because I wanted to admire just how realistic the environment was animated. If you showed me a picture of the background or terrain without any of the goofy looking cars in the shot, I would never have been able to guess that this was from a Pixar animated film – that’s how good it is.

Lightning McQueen and Jackson Storm on the race track

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, this was actually my first time watching Cars 3. Is it my favourite out of the trilogy? Unfortunately, no. My heart will always remain with the first film. But as the finale to a beloved Pixar franchise, I’d say it was decently good. The story was executed alright and I could tell the creators put a lot of thought and heart into building an ending that was satisfying. I wouldn’t say I loved or really enjoyed the film because there was just something missing for me, but I absolutely would not call this a disappointing final film. For what it’s worth, I’m giving Cars 3 a rating of 6/10. While I wouldn’t go out recommending the Cars trilogy just so you could watch Cars 3, if you’re just looking for something fun to watch with your kids, this one will do it.