After watching Okja, Cars 3 was a very big shift, but a very enjoyable film.
It does indeed almost follow the typical storyline you would expect after seeing the trailers. Lightning McQueen is no longer the fastest and has to build himself up to rival the new generation of faster rookie cars. While stereotypical, the final race does play out different to expected, and while some may be able to figure it out fairly easily, I will leave out details to keep surprising joy to some.
The same cast is back, Owen Wilson as McQueen, but alongside some new additions. Armie Hammer feels slightly underused as Jackson Storm, but plays well as an antagonist to McQueen, replicating his own attitude from the first Cars, bringing a nice parallel between the two. It is good that Storm is more just cocky like McQueen was, as opposed to being a defined villain.
Cristela Alonzo also shines as Cruz Ramirez, wannabe racer and trainer to McQueen, providing most of the comedy throughout the film, but doing so in such a genuine way that she comes across as one of the most real and relatable characters in the film: big credit to the voice acting that has been achieved here.
Cars 3 focuses a lot around the theme of memory and passing the torch, calling back a lot to Doc Hudson and his training of Lighting, especially since Doc’s own mentor appears here also. For some reason it reminded me almost of Star Wars, with the master, mentor and apprentice approach, and the way it was pulled off was highly enjoyable to see unfold.
While it would have been nice to see Cars 3 explore different environments a little bit more, it certainly did offer a variety of locations that all looked good and fit with the visual style of the cars themselves. Overall it was a great family film, funny, and enjoyable.