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Monday, November 6, 2017

Cars 3 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and spirited trainer Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo) team up to beat the new generation of blazing-fast racers. Now, this summer’s high-octane hit cruises home—loaded with bonus features like the all new mini-movie starring the demolition derby legend Miss Fritter— Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD on Oct. 24, and on Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on Nov. 7. Cars 3 also features Armie Hammer (The Birth of a Nation) who lends his voice to next-gen racer Jackson Storm, whose high-tech speed leaves Lightning McQueen behind. Kerry Washington (ABC’s “Scandal,” HBO’s “Confirmation”) was called on to voice statistical analyst Natalie Certain, Nathan Fillion (ABC’s “Castle,” ABC’s “Modern Family”) provides the voice of brilliant businesscar Sterling, Lea DeLaria (Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black”) lends her voice to formidable school bus Miss Fritter, and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton helps bring voice command assistant Hamilton to life.
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Lightning does strike twice! Okay now that I've gotten that cheesy line out of the way, Cars 3 is a return to form for Pixar. If the first Cars movie was a bit slow, and the second a lot more action packed without much of a story, then this third installment serves as a perfect blend of the first two. It has story, heart, and enough action to keep the movie humming along. Like Rocky Balboa before him, all great champions have to come to term with the passing of time. In this case, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) who is a seven time Piston Cup winner, suddenly finds himself overshadowed by younger and more technology focused racers like Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer).

The new racing techniques seem crazy to McQueen but they get results, a fact that he is forced to admit after some humiliating losses. The rest of his racing contemporaries have either retired or fired by their sponsors who are looking for newer and sexier racers that they can market and commercialize. When McQueen overdoes it trying to win a race that leads to disastrous results to him, he is forced to take time off from the racing circuit to recover. The idea of losing is a new concept for him and he cuts himself off from his friends and spends his time worrying about if he will end up sharing his mentor Doc Hudson's fate of being forced out of the sport.

Like most of these kind of movies, the plot is pretty predictable as the champion needs to learn a lot about himself to achieve victory and that self awareness is usually aided by those that help train them - in this case by Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) who is a trainer at McQueen's new sponsor that's owner by Sterling (Nathan Fillion). Cruz has her own dreams of being a racer, but settled for being a trainer because of low self esteem. There's a lot of grund covered in this movie, plot threads about being aged out of the workforce while still feeling vital, the dominance of youth and technology, females dealing with a male oriented work arena, rural vs urban life, and a lot more. In fact, there's probably too much going on in this movie, but I'd prefer ambition over laziness.

Cars 3 is a great movie and much better than the first two. It continues the story laid out by the first two and nicely closes the story with some class although not as well as Toy Story 3 did. It was nice to see the old characters return including Doc Hudson voiced by the late & great Paul Newman (and I suspect a talented voice impersonator). Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is in this just the right amount although Sally (Bonnie Hunt) barely get three lines in it. The whole cast do well bringing their roles to life and if this ends up being the final movie in this universe, I am ok with it and I think it's pretty good movie to go out on. 
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
This 4K UHD presentation is superb and is the definitive version to get when compared to the Blu-ray option. Clarity is razor sharp and the colors jump off the screen. There's a lot of textures in this movie and whether they are glassy, rough, or shiny, they all come through beautifully with this transfer. The Blu-ray looks pretty good until you compare it with the 4K version. The 1080p version has issues with noise and aliasing that aren't dealbreakers but are annoying. None of those issues can be found in the 4K edition so that's the one I'm recommending. This UHD is one of the best I've seen. 
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Cars 3 offers a Dolby Atmos track for the UHD and a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix for the Blu-ray. Both tracks are excellent but the Dolby Atmos has an edge over the DTS track as it packs a bit more of a sonic punch. Both offer some nice surround activity that's accurate and the dialogue is clear throughout. The music and sound effects are well blended together and deliver nicely. This is a very good mix although not quite as reference quality as the video quality.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
The extras for this set are set across the two Blu-ray discs as there are no extras included on the UHD disc. There's a decent amount of extras here but none of them wowed me. It's pretty much all fluff but all of the extras are in high definition.

Disc One: 

  • Lou - A cute cartoon short about a lost and found bin that comically comes to life.
  • Miss Fritter's Racing Skoool (1080p, 2:48): A funny commercial aimed at cars looking to get their groove back.
  • Ready for the Race - Real race car driver William Byron talks about racing and why he does it. 
  • Cruz Ramirez: The Yellow Car That Could - A look at the new character for this film and how she was designed.
  • Audio Commentary - Director Brian Fee, Producer Kevin Reher, Co-Producer Andrea Warren, and Creative Director Jay Ward talk about the movie, the story, their intentions for the film, character design, diversity in the cast, and more.

Disc Two: 

  • Behind the Scenes - This extra is broken into five parts: 
    • Generations: The Story of Cars 3 - This extra is focused on how they went about continuing the story from the first films and how the characters have evolved. 
    • Let's. Get. Crazy. - A look at the Thunder Hollow race and those that participated in it. 
    • Cars to Die(cast) For - A look at the toys for Cars 3.
    • Legendary - When trying to depict the origins of racing, the filmmakers decided to look at the real history of racing to give them a more truthful approach.  
    • World's Fastest Billboard - A look at the various car centric logos that appear all over the movie. My favorite one is still DinoCo.  
  • Fly Throughs - This is a quick look at the various environments created for the film including: "Thomasville," "Florida International Speedway," and "Rust-Eze Racing Center." 
  • My First Car - The cast and crew talk about their first car.
  • Deleted Scenes - A collection of deleted scenes including: "The Boogie Woogie," "Lug Nuts," "Jars of Dirt," "The Bolt," and "More Than New Paint." 
  • Trailers 
  • Promos
  • Blu-ray copy of the film
  • Digital copy of the film
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Cars 3 is a fun film that nicely closes out the story for Lightning McQueen and his friends. The voice cast does excellent work here and it's got a nice story that the previous one was missing. This UHD set is well worth the money as it offers pristine looking video quality and the audio is almost as good. The extras could have been better but this is still an easy set to recommend!

Order your copy today!

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