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Movie Review: ‘Cars 3’ Burns Out What Little Gas It Had

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Cars 3 Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] find myself with questions I shouldn’t be asking for the premise of Cars 3, but could you blame me? This surprisingly somber and sentimental entry of the saga focuses on when the automotive citizens of this cars-only universe get old. There are now newer, flashier and younger (?) racers that are replacing the old guard. What happens when the older cars are too old to compete? Do they sellout to get new parts and drive faster?

Cars 3 Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Lightning McQueen creeps up on the lead.

Apparently not as this is rarely brought up, leading me to believe that part replacement in this world is either a sign of shame or not possible. Older cars seem to retire from racing, but what awaits them in old age? The cars can apparently die, but do they end up in junkyards? For that matter, how are cars created/born into this world? One could go mad trying to figure this out, so I’ll switch gears before I blow a gasket.

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is not the same hotshot racer he once was. His glory days are behind him as the sport becomes dominated by the next wave of speedsters, looking down with pity and contempt on the older models. The new champion on the racing circuit is Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), enhanced with neon lights, the latest in high-tech automotive materials and expert training on a state-of-the-art simulator.

With all of McQueen’s familiar racing pals having retired, and part replacement some unspoken taboo, the only option for the aged racer is to train. He’s already done that before, but now he has teamed up with a spiffy new sponsor (Nathan Fillion) who will offer him the latest in car training that doesn’t even require leaving a building. Teamed up with the eccentric trainer Cruz (Cristela Alonzo), McQueen is subjected to car treadmills, car exercises and car Zen-like meditation. A car is apparently not one with himself unless he names his tires.

Cars 3 Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Trouble on the raceway.

If this was intended as a grand send-off for the series, it’s a little underwhelming that it plays as an atypical sports drama of a former champion making one last leap for the gold. It sticks so close to this formula that it seems to forget that this story takes place in a world of cars. What if McQueen has some problems with his engine? There’s mention that leaking motor oil is a sign of being elderly, with drip pans akin to diapers. It never seems like McQueen actually has a real issue with age so much as he has a loss of confidence and focus on the track. Wasn’t this his problem in the first movie? Returning to such familiar means of training and concentration gives the film a sense of deja vu and likens it more to a sports picture about returning to your roots. The first film that comes to mind is Rocky V, a film that even Stallone thinks is the worst of the series.

Related: Movie Review: ‘The Mummy’ Shuffles and stumbles with Monsters and Adventure

McQueen’s training begins indoors with Cruz, but he takes the initiative to abandon technology and get his tires dirty for real racing. All these young cars and their fancy phones and video games are no substitute for the actual thing, a mindset that attempts to paint McQueen as an older fella. He brings along Cruz for his runs, but ends up teaching her more about how to drive on sand and how to drift. They form a solid mentor relationship, even if Cruz’s bubbly personality appears as a replication of other Pixar pixies. I doubt that Cruz’s mantra of “I am a fluffy cloud” will be as catchy or memorable as Dory’s “just keep swimming.”

One stop on McQueen’s outdoor adventure is a demolition derby. Cars are locked in a cage of a track where muddy and dirty cars assault one another. This seems like it would be an intense action sequence, especially with biggest opponent being a horned school bus that collects license plates as keepsakes. And, yet, this scene is treated more like a silly hootenanny…where cars smash into each other.

Cars 3 Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

This actually looks kind of terrifying.

But, wait, wasn’t McQueen in a horrific crash at the beginning of the film? How is it now funny that cars are smashed, dinged, toppled, crumpled, scraped and lodged into one another? This could have been a thrilling Mad Max style battle, but perhaps that’s too intense for a G-rated movie about cars. I guess there needs to be some fun in this rather somber tale of nostalgia, considering McQueen’s comic relief bucktoothed pal Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is kicked to the sidelines for this picture, most likely a result of his piggish screen time in Cars 2.

Read more for the rest of the Cars 3 movie review:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.


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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.


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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.


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