Adventure Animation

'Cars 3' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: Disney Pixar's four-wheeled franchise comes home for one more lap

November 6, 2017Ben MK

In Cars 3, we rejoin Piston Cup champion Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) as he continues to win race after race, much to the delight of his fans and sponsors. Little does he realize, however, that an unexpected turn lies ahead. A young upstart named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) is poised to take the racing circuit by, well, storm; and with him, a league of next-generation cars is about to render Lightning and his fellow "old school" competitors obsolete. To make matters worse, the unthinkable happens, when Lightning suffers a potentially career-ending crash.

Fast forward four months, and Lightning finds himself fighting the urge to retire, as he recovers back in Radiator Springs, surrounded by old friends like Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and Sally (Bonnie Hunt). Yet, the open road still beckons, and so when he's given the chance to train at a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility, Lightning jumps at the opportunity. Once there, he meets his new sponsor, billionaire entrepreneur Sterling (Nathan Fillion), and young trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), and sets out to prepare for the race of a lifetime: the Florida 500.

Directed by Brian Fee and written by Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson and Mike Rich, what follows is a familiar-feeling story of redemption and rehabilitation that younger audience members in particular should find amusing, as Lightning and Cruz embark on a road trip in an attempt to restore his racing prowess. Adults, on the other hand, are more likely to be bemused, as Cars 3 arguably lacks the same level of artistic nuance and emotional resonance that has made even fellow sequels like Toy Story 3 such instant classics.

Of course, that's not to say that Cars 3 is utterly devoid of Pixar's trademark charm, but merely that the studio's tried-and-true formula is starting to feel a bit too formulaic this time around. That said, you have to at least give the filmmakers credit for bringing Lightning's story full-circle. Rather than trying to squeeze even more mileage out of an already-diminishing fuel tank, Cars 3 doesn't completely rule out the possibility of a sequel, but it does bring the franchise to a nice, safe stop, should Pixar ultimately decide to leave these characters in the dust.

Cars 3 speeds onto Ultra HD Blu-ray boasting a sleek 4K transfer and a sporty 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos sound mix. Needless to say, Disney Pixar's first foray into the format warrants absolutely zero complaints. Picture quality is pixel-perfect, from the dusty dunes of Radiator Springs to the beaches and blue skies of Florida, and it's all bolstered by a vibrant HDR color palette, which makes Lightning's bright red paint job pop like never before. Audio-wise, the same story rings true, with the real standouts being the sounds of revving engines, screeching tires and adoring crowds that fill the air during the race sequences, whether it's a demolition derby or a stadium showdown.

Disney's three-disc "Ultimate Collector's Edition" includes an iTunes digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no special features on the 4K disc, but the following extras can be found spread across the two Blu-ray discs in the set:

  • Lou (6:43) - The short film by writer/director Dave Mullins that played before Cars 3 in theaters.
  • Miss Fritter's Racing Skool (2:48) - A new short from writer/director James Ford Murphy.
  • Ready for the Race (5:40) - Actress Olivia Rodrigo (Disney Channel's Bizaardvark) talks to 19-year-old race car driver William Byron at the Hendrick Motorsports training facility to find out more about the sport.
  • Cruz Ramirez: The Yellow Car That Could (7:46) - A look at the evolution of the Cruz Ramirez character and how the personal stories of the filmmakers and voice actor Cristela Alonzo helped shape it.
  • Feature Commentary - Director Brian Fee, Producer Kevin Reher, Co-Producer Andrea Warren and the Cars franchise's Creative Director Jay Ward talk about the tone of the film, the fun they had working on the movie, the music, bringing back the Doc Hudson character, the voice cameos, the research they did for the film, the character designs and the visual palette, the Easter eggs and more.
  • Behind the Scenes (41:14) - Five featurettes ("Generations: The Story of Cars 3," "Let's. Get. Crazy.," "Cars to Die(cast) For," "Legendary" and "World's Fastest Billboard") that give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the story, the filmmakers' research for the film, the franchise's expansive toy line, the real-life early history of racing, and the graphic design of the movie.
  • Fly Throughs (2:43) - Visual explorations of three of the film's environments ("Thomasville," "Florida International Speedway" and "Rust-eze Racing Center").
  • My First Car (5:30) - Actress Kerry Washington, Pixar Graphic Artist Craig Foster and Pixar Technical Resident Valeria Barra talk about their first cars ("A Green Car on the Red Carpet with Kerry Washington," "Old Blue" and "Still in the Family").
  • Deleted Scenes (26:17) - Five scenes ("The Boogie Woogie," "Lug Nuts," "Jars of Dirt," "The Bolt" and "More than New Paint"), with introductions by director Brian Fee.
  • Trailers (8:12) - Five trailers ("Crash - North America Teaser," "Icon - North America Trailer," "Theatrical Payoff - Japan Trailer," "All New - International Teaser" and "Rivalry - Global Trailer").
  • Promos (6:26) - Four promos for the film ("Cars D'Oeuvres" and "Car Reveals" for Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez and Jackson Storm).

Cars 3 is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of November 7th, 2017. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 42 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on June 12th, 2017.

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