I’ve been trying to get through the 2014 animated releases and I’m not going to post reviews on all of them (Sorry Nut Job and Legend’s of Oz aren’t worth my time) but occasionally I will. Tonight I watched Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue.
This is a sequel to 2013’s Planes which didn’t get very good reviews but did well at the box office. Both films were spin offs from the Pixar Cars films but are done by the Disney Toons Studio and I enjoyed both. They aren’t masterpieces but I thought they were fun. The sequel Fire and Rescue is actually better than the original.
The key to the Cars or Planes movies is accepting the world upfront because it is incredibly silly. The idea of a world completely of mechanical items like cars and planes is a stretch and it does not hold up to any kind of thoughtful analysis. For example, why are there no robots? If a world can somehow procreate planes, cars and trains why not robots? They have televisions? Also we know there is death in the car/plane world because the old Paul Newman car died in the first Cars film but if a car is given a new engine, and retooled like a hot-rod is it somehow resurrected or does it have an entirely new personality? See I’m already down the rabbit hole on this one…
So you have to make a logical leap and just go with the world presented. Some people can’t do that but for whatever reason I can. The same is true for the much maligned Cars 2. The idea of cars being secret agents is so strange but in a world with only cars they probably would need secret agent cars. There probably would be car crime unless it is a world of only peace loving cars and planes.
Again, digging too deep on this one! It’s just a world of cars and planes for kids that like cars and planes. That’s it. So in this sequel Dusty has become a star on the racing circuit but at the outset his ‘gear box’ is giving him grief and unfortunately his gear box is no longer in production (another weird part of this world. Who decides what cars are worthy of life saving organs and others are not…) so he can no longer race.
I love it in animated movies when characters fly and the flying sequences in this film are gorgeous. It really has a sense of scope and majesty. The scenery is beautiful although later it appeared to be a combination of Yellowstone and Yosemite but I guess in their made up world that can happen?
So Dusty causes a fire in the airport wing that threatens to close down their Corn Festival (I guess they need corn to turn into ethenol?) if they do not get a firefighter plane on site soon, so Dusty gets sent to the National Park to learn how to fight fires.
This again is beautifully drawn and felt like a national park. The scenes of the firefighting training and the characters were a lot of fun.
There’s a helicopter named the Blade Ranger who is a former celebrity TV star that had to settle for fighting fires (isn’t that similar to the Paul Newman car?) and there is Dipper who falls in love with Dusty. Again, best not to overthink that one. There’s a fire that is encroaching upon a new lodge and the evil Cadillac car doesn’t want to evacuate and miss his grand opening (another greedy corporate villain but I didn’t mind it because he’s not in that much of the movie).
Dusty is conflicted with his excitement over learning to fight fires and his love for racing that has just been taken from him. The helicopter Blade Ranger can relate to that feeling and they have some nice dialogue together.
All the voice performances are pretty good with Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julie Bowen, Ed Harris and more. And the music is very good with a score by Mark Mancina with songs from Brad Paisley (another carry-over from Cars).
But mostly the movie works pretty well because it jumps from one flying sequence to another. They keep the action going and there is more than one fire which are all drawn quite vividly. There isn’t many moments when you stop and say ‘wait a minute. How would that work?’ and certainly a kid won’t worry about such things. They will just enjoy a story about cars and planes zooming in and out of canyons and putting out fires.
This is kind of like my review of God’s Not Dead. If you read my description of this movie and it sounds like you will hate it than you will probably hate it but if it doesn’t sound that bad than you will probably enjoy it. It has good voice work, great flying sequences, beautiful animation of fire and non-fire settings and a briskly paced story. I think boys will particularly enjoy it.
Of course it has problems and it is not a top tier Disney film but I don’t think it is really trying to be. Within the limitations of the world they were given I think it is about as a good a movie as could be made. I had a fine time watching it.
Overall Grade- C+