I’ll be honest… the biggest reason I wanted to see this movie was because Brad Paisley is on the soundtrack. But if you aren’t a Country music fan; however, Planes: Fire and Rescue was an all-around enjoyable film full of the puns and sly humor that made us enjoy the original Planes. Although I’m not sure if this tribute to firefighters will have enough gas to get off the ground.
Dusty Crop-Hopper (Dane Cook) is the famous racer that defied all odds as he raced around the world but everything in his life is about to change when he learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again. Knowing his limitations, when fire breaks out close to home, he sees a way to help his friends by becoming an aerial firefighter. His new mentor, veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter, Blade Ranger (Ed Harris) along with the ever optimistic air tanker Dipper (Julie Bowen), heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter (Wes Studi), ex-military transport Cabbie (Captain Dale Dye) and the gang of humorous all-terrain vehicles known as the Smokejumpers show him the ropes to protect historic Piston Peak National Park from raging wildfire.
There were a lot of things that I liked about this movie. Let’s start with the animation. In celebration of the conclusion of its sesquicentennial celebration, I assume, the scenery was patterned after the famous Yosemite National Park. With such amazing subject matter there is no wonder the animation in this film is nothing short of beautiful. I want to give kudos to the people at DisneyToon Studios. They have really kept up with the curve and deliver a very quality product. Bravo!
As far as the soundtrack goes, I was not disappointed. All the main songs stood out well and helped to bring out themes. “Letting Go and Learning to Grow” was probably my favorite message in the film. “Still I Fly”, the featured song on the soundtrack, by Spencer Lee was depicted very well in the film. Oh, did I mention Brad Paisley is on the soundtrack? Brad is the only current touring act that I have called radio stations for days in order to win tickets. Simply put, I’m a fan. He contributed two songs “Runway Romance” and “All In.” In the latter, he pays tribute to his father and brother-in-law who were both firefighters. But even if that doesn’t interest you, there’s always the inclusion of AC/DC’s “Thunder Struck” that will make you say “OK, I approve.” (Give it up for the standards, people.)
The thing I loved most about the first Planes movie was the dialogue. It was really clever and very punny. The sequel followed the same recipe but they tried to take a more mature route and give the story a lot more substance. I wanted this movie to win as it got going. There were moments that even if you couldn’t see yourself in Dusty’s place as he was having to redefine his identity, you could see someone you knew and respected. But, as many good points as it has, I’m not sure if it will be enough to win at the box office.
Is Planes: Fire and Rescue worth $10-$15 in the theaters? Not particularly. My honest take was that it was a good movie, 3 stars even, but I don’t know who I would recommend it to. It didn’t have a clear demographic. It didn’t have a clearly defined/developed antagonist. They could have gone down many different roads, but instead decided to add enough of each to “hit all their bases.” Even though there were a lot of mature choices made in regards to Dusty getting a second chance wanting to make a difference, I think the story would have worked better had they not put it in the ‘Planes universe,’ the fact that Dusty was a plane limited my ability to care about him on the level that they wanted me to. It was also still a bit of a repeat of the same characters from the first, just with different names, and in the effort to make it more “kid friendly” they added characters that just weren’t needed.
Please understand, I enjoyed the experience. The 3D made for some beautiful shots. It’s funny enough that everyone will laugh yet mature enough to still be dubbed a tribute… but there was just something lacking that makes me say, “Wait until it goes to the dollar theatre.”
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