Cars 3 was quite possibly the most underwhelming sequel of all time.
With the original Cars being a classic, and Cars 2 being an unfortunate failure, the franchise needed a refresh. Coming in 2017, Cars 3 aspired to revitalize the series. There was just one problem: Cars 3 wasn’t good. Cars 3 didn’t have a engaging plot like Cars and it didn’t even have stupid fun spy crap like Cars 2. Cars 3 is just very boring.
Cars 3 starts the same as the last two movies, Lightning is back to his old ways of being a jerk. He acts almost as if the last two movies never took place at all. Lightning is on top of the world, with him and the other two racers of the top three having a good friendship and rivalry between themselves. That is until new next generation racer Jackson Storm shows up. Storm is better than McQueen in every way imaginable, and McQueen is beaten by Storm in a landslide. Storm slyly gloats to McQueen in front of the press. On a side note, Storm sucks compared to Cars’ Chick Hicks and Cars 2’s Francesco Bernoulli. Storm has just about no personality of his own, he simply acts as a sarcastic young adult.
According to Saint Louis High School Student Adam Shattuck, “Jackson Storm is a terrible replacement for Chick Hicks and Francesco Bernoulli. Those two had very fun personalities and were great rivals all around.”
More and more next generation racers show up, and at the same time more and more of Lightning’s colleagues retire. In possible the most fateful race of his career, Lightning crashes in a similiar way to both his mentors: The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and Strip “The King” Weathers. Just like both of them, Lightning is totaled and out of races for months. Unlike both of his mentors, Lightning refuses to let his harrowing crash be the end of his career. After some convincing from his friends Sally and Mater, Lightning decides to enter a next generation training program and strike back with a vengeance.
As Lightning enters the building, he is greeted by the owners of his sponsor, Rusteze: Rusty and Dusty. To Lightning’s dismay, they’ve sold the company to a new guy, Mr. Sterling. Sterling intends to have Lightning retire, and make his money on sellout merchandise. But Lightning has a counter-offer: he finishes off this season. If McQueen loses, he retires. If McQueen wins, he decides when he’s done. McQueen then meets a personal trainer, Cruz Ramirez who intends on training him in the high-tech facility to beat Storm. McQueen does not respond well to Cruz’s attempts, he figures the only way to get better is to actually go outside and drive.
Over the course of many attempts by both of them to appease the other, Lightning and Cruz have a falling out with each other. Cruz breaks down, ranting about how she always wanted to be a real racer, not just a trainer. At the final race of the season, Lightning stands no chance. He is only just beating most racers using his skills. He decides to have a change of heart, he takes the pits and has Cruz take the rest of the race instead of him. Amazingly, Ramirez ends up winning, Storm is humiliated. McQueen turns into a Hudson Hornet-like figure for Cruz in honor of his own mentor and presumably retires. This ending is disappointing, it brings in a brand new character and presumes a relationship between her and Lightning, though we have no attachment to Cruz, no emotional cling to her.
According to Grant Bebow, “Cruz Ramirez is the worst deuteragonist in the whole series, In the first film: we had Doc, in the second film: we had Mater as the main character and Lightning as the deuteragonist. In this third film, we’re treated with a nobody who does nothing for us.”