The Planes franchise is not for me. However, I’m not a seven-year-old boy who’s obsessed with airplanes and other miscellaneous aviary vehicles – the demographic these films are so clearly for.
That’s not to snub the seven-year-old boy who likes to play with toy airplanes in his parents’ living room. Being a kid is a great time and should be cerished. There’s a lack of responsibilities, you have no dire worries, and the world is yours. The most critical task of the day is trying to fool your Mom and Dad into thinking you ate all those brussels sprouts.
There’s nothing wrong with those youngsters liking a movie like Planes: Fire & Rescue. Those kids need escapist entertainment that’s light on crass humour and stays energetic. The problems only come into play when Disney is trying to use an innocent vehicle like Planes: Fire & Rescue to shell out merchandise and collect plenty of moolah from Mommy and Daddy’s bank account.
Planes: Fire & Rescue is not as shameless as its predecessor Planes was. Planes was a blatant cash out from a family-friendly company that usually enjoys making and marketing cute features. Disney’s follow-up isn’t completely scot-free from selling out (there are lots of new characters this time around), but it’s nice to see more focus directed to attractive art direction and dreaming big.
Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) is in-between races when he finds out his engine is damaged. While his career as a racer is in limbo, he takes to the skies as a different kind of hero. He joins the Smokejumpers in an attempt to become certified to fight fires back in his hometown. However, he’s going to have to impress the leader, Blade Ranger (voiced by a bored Ed Harris).
Undoubtably, the animation is exciting. The film abides and agrees by the guideline that flames always look good and intimidating in movies. But, never has action been more procedural! Each character speaks out what they’re going to do, and then they do it. Director and co-writer Roberts Gannaway’s approach to speaking out each beat may appeal to those kids who want to know every step of through a danger zone. Especially when AC/DC’s Thunderstruck starts blaring through the speakers on the film’s soundtrack, which made me nostalgic for Stan Bush’s The Touch in Transformers: The Movie. But, as someone who wanted to be amazed by what the planes were doing, I was left unsurprised.
The most complimentary thing I can say about Planes: Fire and Rescue is that it holds back from being a feature-length commercial. While there are lots of new faces in this free-roaming world, Gannaway restrains from displaying each character on a fancy pedestal. Everyone works as part of a team and no one showboats, which emphasizes that the characters work best when putting their heads together. Or, maybe that’s Disney’s way of subtly hinting that you have to buy the toys as a set.
The kids will love it but despite the film’s slight growth and a chuckle towards one of the film’s more clever throwaway jokes (“She left me for a hybrid. I didn’t even hear him coming”), the Planes franchise has yet to impress me. This sequel is as useless as the first go, but a better film in terms of imagination.