'Cars 3' tries to take checkered flag at box office

Can Lightning McQueen again top the racing world?

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SAN ANTONIO – In the latest installment of Disney-Pixar's "Cars" series Lightning McQueen's racing career is at a crossroads. 

Does he, like many of us would, give in to father time and get pushed out of the sport he loves? Or does he once again find a way to return the top?

Using the common sports related plot of a potentially washed up athlete seeking one last shot at glory, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) starts to realize that his time may be up after next-generation race cars begin to push out and replace his long-time rivals.

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Lightning gets beat in a big-time race by a brash next generation racer Jackson Storm, who ultimately declares, “I can’t believe I get to race Lightning McQueen in his farewell season.” 

When Lightning realizes he's unable to match Storm's 200 miles per hour, Lightning turns to the help of his new racing team owner Mr. Sterling and a young trainer Cruz Ramirez (voiced by Cristela Alonzo) who try to get Lightning to try new and advanced training technology. 

But its only when Lightning turns to inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet that his chances of a victory truly return. Lightning remembers the words of friend and coach Doc Hudson (once again voiced by Paul Newman) and sets to work to beat Storm.

Lightning heads home and begins a regimen of trial runs on beaches and dirt tracks. A newfound trust develops over time between Cruz and Lightning, who admits her own desire to race. 

The film's world is one of talking cars and no humans. The quicker the audience accepts and wraps their head around that, the sooner the film becomes a joy as much, if not more than the previous versions.

“Cars 3” is a pleasant return to what made the original such a delight. The "Cars" movies have always been visual candy, offering satisfaction albeit with very limited substance.

Both the original “Cars” (2006) and “Cars 2” (2011) took in more than $1 billion in combined worldwide box office. “Cars” also won a Golden Globe for best animated feature film.

This new film may not win a Golden Globe but it sports an incredible cast of talented voices in complementary roles, such as Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larrry the Cable Guy, Kerry Washington, Bonnie Hunt and Tony Shalhoub. Sportscaster Bob Costas and racers Kyle Petty, Jeff Gordon and Chase Elliott contribute as well.

The "Cars" franchise has always targeted young boys and this particular film is no different. But with the introduction of Cruz, this third edition tries to empower women more and fight against sexism.

"Cars 3" is directed by Brian Fee, who was a storyboard artist for the first two films.

The movie is 1 hour and 49 minutes and rated G. It opens nationwide on June 16.

You can view the trailer below or by clicking here.

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