As much as Cars 2 has been a failure compared to other Pixar productions, making the existence of a third film astounding, the studio managed to put its most famous car back in the competition between great animation studios with Cars 3. It is worth to draw the evolution of the franchise and its main character, Lightning McQueen, played by Owen Wilson.
The first film of the franchise appeared in 2006. At the time, some filmmakers and animators complained that their characters, being anthropomorphic cars, were very similar to old Disney animations already out of fashion. But with an excellent script, the title went into the history of film and animation.
The screenplay of the first film is very reminiscent of the structure of The Karate Kid, directed by John G. Avildsen, where an inexperienced boy learns to fight karate with a martial art master, winning a championship for his honor. However, in Cars, the fight is replaced by a race of vehicles. In this universe, Lightning McQueen is a new and inexperienced competitor who wants to win the biggest car race in the world. However, he ends up being trapped in a ruined city and having to do tasks such as repairing the city street after accidentally destroying it. Although Lightning considers these tasks a distraction (and a nightmare) at first, he ends up finding the motivation to compete. Most importantly, he meets Doc Hudson, a legendary winner, retired against his own will, who helps him win the race. The plot develops around the importance of being modest and of the value of remembering and honoring the past.
Cars 2, unfortunately, changes quite the structure of the first film and its plot is inspired by Mafia movies. Here, Lightning McQueen, who has been champion four times, wants to win a major race in Tokyo. However, the film’s villains want to destabilize the race and profit from it. With bombs and explosions, the film was considered in 2011 one of the worst Pixar films. However, due to the success of the first film, Cars 2 had even more box office success, which explains the existence in the new film.
If Cars 2 diverted our attention from McQueen’s favorite sport, Cars 3 makes us dive headlong into the character’s original passion. Returning to being inspired by fighting movies, the plot of the new movie is very reminiscent of the latest films by Rocky, a character created by Silvester Stallone, where the veteran boxer must compete with much stronger fighters and train with the latest equipment. For this, Rocky needs to innovate his type of training and to use his experience to win.
In Cars, now veteran Lightning McQueen needs to do the same to win from Jackson Storm in a race that may be his last. Not wanting to age and retire, Lightning experiences the kinds of next-generation training possible. However, only when he finds the old city of his former teacher and friend, Doc Hudson, Lightning can understand what he needs to win. Although the box office has not had much success, also because of the criticism failure of the second film, Cars 3 deserves a position in the race between great studios, since it returns the plot to the origins that made Lightning McQueen famous.
(article translated from the original version in portuguese, by Google Translate)