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Cars 3 (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

In the world of Pixar, it used to be that they typically didn’t cash in on making a boatload of sequels beside Toy Story. Now, we have Monsters University and Finding Dory recently with an Incredibles 2 on the way.  But, the odd outlier is now the Cars series, as it now has as many entries as Toy Story. Cars, the series that hasn’t been a critical favorite nor one of their powerhouse box office performers.  However, when it comes to the merchandise, like toys and bed sheets, Cars is one of their most successful. So, now with a third movie, these honestly serve as a glorified commercial to sell some new stuff and be in the conscience of a new generation. The film came out this past summer and will be Disney and Pixar’s first full animated film to hit the 4K Ultra-HD format when it drops on November 7th.

Film 

Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast cars, the legendary Lighting McQueen finds himself pushed out of the sport that he loves. Hoping to get back in the game, he turns to Cruz Ramirez, an eager young technician who has her own plans for winning. With inspiration from the Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns, No. 95 prepares to compete on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage.

Here’s an admission, I’ve not seen Cars 2. But, judging where this one starts and having watched this third one, I don’t think I missed any story elements that this one might have piggybacked on. If anything, and to its strengths, Cars 3 feels like strictly a standalone adventure. Hell, you could honestly come into Cars 3 completely blind, not having seen any of them, and been able to keep up with and enjoy the movie just fine.

This trilogy capper for the Cars series finds itself catching up with an aged Lightning McQueen coming to the realization that his sport is passing him by and trying to recapture his glory days just one last time before bowing out. The film actually has a rather compelling, adult and strong narrative, which took me by surprise. There’s a lot of drama in Cars 3. Overall, the execution is kinda average and the series is a bit tired, but the idea in this movie is there and a strong one.

From what I gather, the second film was about some spy mission.  The first one was Doc Hollywood with Cars. This might be the first one to actually focus on racing and the details of the drivers and the sport itself. It does have some call backs to the first movie, including the late Paul Newman’s character in a couple cameos. Of course, Larry the Cable Guy returns as Mater. There are also some fun new contributions from Nathan Fillion, Armi Hammer and Chris Cooper among others.

Overall, this is the definition of “fine”. There are some well put together race sequences to go along with some humor that is a cross between yawners and charming little snickers. If you’re a fan of the first film, I’d urge you to give this one a look as its not that bad. Or maybe you’re a parent and you want something decent to grab your kids’ attention for a while that you might be present for. While this is an average movie, its a remarkable achievement in filmmaking compared to The Emoji Movie that I had to suffer through before watching this one.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC/ H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Cars 3 shows a significant jump over its standard Blu-ray counterpart. Normally when it comes animated features, the Blu-ray to 4K UHD jump is negligible, but this was has some significant improvements. The colors have a more look to them for one. Things look much more life like. There is a lot more detail going on. You can see little differences and nuances in the paint and gloss finish on Lightning McQueen for example. Its just altogether a stronger image and by default, the best animated feature so far on the 4K Ultra-HD format.

Depth:  This film is computer animated, lending it to an easily 3 dimensional look to it naturally. Spacing is really nice between foreground and background with the cars and objects all looking nicely well rounded. Movements occur naturally with no blur distortion.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and prove pretty astonishing in the nighttime sequences when you can still see how much detail is still present. Its pretty incredible. No crushing was witnessed during this viewing for the review of this release.

Color Reproduction: Cars 3 sports a nice array of many colors, coming in all different shades and tints in this varied palette. The HDR also comes in handy for some cool glow effects and saturation.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Compatible), English 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Cars 3 has a nice mix that really packs in some excellent sound design and fun room-filling racing twists and turns. The effects in this mix are really well layered, distinct with perfect volume and depth to them. Its a dynamic mix that really tracks the races and such to a great degree. Its got some good oomph and traveling sound that punch appropriately and give for a nice fun romp.

Height: Overhead usage is a little light in the distinct areas, but it fits the natural settings with some neat ambiance and appropriate sounds from time to time.

Low Frequency Extension: Engines roar, music bumping, crashing, cars rushing back and more add a good thump to your viewings.

Surround Sound Presentation: As expected, this mix packs a furious fit of movements and sounds traveling all over the room. The racing sequences do not disappointment. Environments get brought to life quite well and no channel is forgotten when it comes to having unique sounds.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp, clean and plenty loud and audible.

Extras 

Cars 3 comes with the standard Blu-ray edition (2-Discs) and an UltraViolet digital copy. All on the bonus material appears across the 2 Blu-ray discs.

Blu-ray Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Brian Fee, Producer Kevin Reher, Co-Producer Andrea Warren, and Creative Director Jay Ward

Lou (HD, 6:4) – The short film about recess that I imagine preceded the film in theaters.

Miss Fritter’s Racing School (HD, 2:48) – A commercial about cars trying to get back on the horse.

Ready For The Race (HD, 5:40) – A real race car driver talks about his love for the sport and what drives him.

Cruz Ramirez: The Yellow Car That Could (HD, 7:46) – A featurette dedicated to the creation and execution of one of the new characters in the movie.

Blu-ray Disc 2

Behind The Scenes – A 5 part look at the making of the film, from coming up with the story to the toys, focusing on a particular sequence, the fake ads in the movie and trying to stay true to the heart of racing.

  • Generations: The Story of Cars 3 (HD, 11:20)
  • Let’s.Get.Crazy. (HD, 7:41)
  • Cars To Die(cast) For (HD, 5:21) 
  • Legendary (HD, 11:22)
  • World’s Fastest Billboard (HD, 5:30)

Fly Throughs – These have a little bit of a trip through some of the environments featured in the film.

  • Thomasville (HD, 1:10)
  • Florida International Speedway (HD, :37)
  • Rust-Eze Racing Center (HD, :56) 

My First Car – Some of the cast and crew talk about their first car.

  • A Green Car on the Red Carpet with Kerry Washington (HD, 1:53)
  • Old Blue (HD, 1:21)
  • Still In The Family (HD, 2:16)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 26:17)

Trailers

  • Crash: North America Teaser (HD, :56)
  • Icon: North America Trailer (HD, 2:33)
  • Theatrical Payoff: Japan Trailer (HD, 2:02)
  • All New: International Teaser (HD, :31)
  • Rivalry: Global Trailer (HD, 2:10)

Promos 

  • Cars D’oeuvres (HD, 4:27)
  • Car Reveals: Lightning McQueen (HD, :39)
  • Cars Reveals: Cruz Ramirez (HD, :41)
  • Cars Reveals: Jackson Storm (HD, :39)

Summary 

Cars 3 is solid. Its a rather just fine movie that’s not a waste or your time at all while not being anything extravagant either. This 4K Ultra-HD release is plenty extravagant though, boasting (at this point) the best picture quality of any animated feature on the format to go along with a fun and zooming Atmos track. There are plenty of extras over 2 Blu-ray discs for thoughtful insight on making the movie as well as fun things for the kids to check out. Those into the Cars movies surely will want to grab this.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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