Planes: Fire & Rescue
Disney continued to adventure in the world within Cars with a second Planes movie, Fire & Rescue, this Summer and now it’s arriving on Blu-Ray. I got my hands on an early copy of the movie to help you decide whether or not it’s worth adding to your home entertainment collection.
I was never really a big fan of the Cars spin-off idea for Planes. Nothing about it sounded all that exciting. While I enjoyed the first Planes movie, it definitely felt like a Direct-to-Blu-ray kind of film. That’s how it originally started life, before Disney decided to give it a theatrical release. It just didn’t work on the big screen but I found I enjoyed it more on the home entertainment format. As such, I skipped out on Planes: Fire & Rescue when it hit theaters and opted to view it only on blu-ray instead.
Sadly neither way of seeing it could have made this movie any better. It’s pretty telling when the kid who was begging me to open the blu-ray and put it in the player as soon as we got home, was bored within the first 20 minutes and started doing something else. All without a second glance at the movie that was still running (and yes, he loved the first one).
The best way I can describe Planes: Fire & Rescue is boring. Seriously and without hyperbole this is just a boring movie that’s incredibly tough to sit through and watch. Which is kind of a bummer because I thought the initial premise of the movie was interesting and a little more “grown up” than I expected.
Dusty, the main character from the first film, is a racing machine still and winning all sorts of awards. But he’s pushed himself too hard and one of his primary engine components is failing on him. Since the part is now defunct and no longer being built he either has to stop racing or risk crashing/being put down for good. Kind of dark and grown up, right? It gets better.
In a fit of depression Dusty goes out for an evening flight and because he’s upset botches his landing and crashes into the gas station which causes a massive explosion/fire. The result of the fire brings down the inspection agency which determines the airport is out of code and shut down until it’s in compliance. They need another firefighter in order to re-open the airstrip (to save the town basically), and Dusty offers to undergo training to make it happen. So there’s some sacrifice involved there and the idea about taking responsibility for ones actions.
These are great themes and ideas, but soon after the film goes downhill in some cliched epiphany moments and an overall boring presentation. The “action” never really comes out, and there was virtually no tension throughout the movie. Nothing kept you glued to the screen, and the new characters quickly become more annoying than endearing. Nothing kills a story’s potential more than poor pacing and characters you can’t care about.
Even looking at it from the perspective of being a direct-to-market movie (which it should have been under even the best circumstances), it’s hard to find much to enjoy about this movie. The characters aren’t solid enough (like the Cars creations that spawned these spin-offs) to carry the story or make the themes pop.
Picture and Sound
I will say this about the movie, it’s obvious Disney put a little more effort into this sequel (visually speaking) than they did the first film. As I mentioned, the original Planes was built as a direct-to-Blu-ray title and got a last minute bump to theaters. Even so, it was obvious to see that the film wasn’t up to the same visual level as their other animated movies. It looked like it was built to be much cheaper to produce.
Planes: Fire & Rescue looks significantly better having been planned for a theatrical release from the start. The animation looks a little more polished and the characters themselves look shiny and comparable to everything else on the market out there. In particular the fire-fighting scenes in the forests stuck out to me as looking great, and they really came to life on the blu-ray.
The transfer here is solid, and since Planes is filled with a multitude of bright colors and locations that really pop on blu-ray and look pretty impressive on the screen. The sound is similar in quality and you won’t be constantly turning the volume up and down to hear dialog vs. action.
In short everything about the blu-ray from the technical side is solid. Perhaps not ground-breaking or stunning, but certainly good quality...so it’s too bad the rest of the movie isn’t.
The Special Features
Disney Animation certainly didn’t shortchange anyone on the special features, including a pretty good amount of bonuses for people:
Exclusive Animated Short: "Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular"
Welcome to Piston Peak! - This mockumentary promotional piece shows off all the highlights of the acclaimed Piston Peak National Park and its aerial firefighting team.
CHoPs TV Promo - An in-world TV promo.
Air Attack: Firefighters From The Sky - This high-energy, music-driven behind-the-scenes piece takes an inside look at the real smoke jumpers and firefighters who attack wildfires from the air as Director Roberts Gannaway and Producer Ferrell Barron take us through their journey in making the film.
Spencer Lee Music Video: "Still I Fly"
Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions:
Dusty's Dream No More
DMA Discover Content:
Animated Short: Blade Ranger
Animated Short: Piston Peak
That’s quite a bit of extra content, but it’s tough to enjoy any of it considering the overall poor quality of the film itself. It’s like trying to interest yourself in the side options of a meal you hated. It’s a tough sell. Still some of them are fun, and in small doses these characters are way more enjoyable.
Even with all that’s offered here, after the final credits roll you won’t find much reason to check them out, and it’s doubtful you’ll ever do so more than once. While they’re not bad bonus features, and more substantial than most home entertainment releases, they don’t offer up much return value.
The second Planes outing proves to be less enjoyable than the first and you’ll find yourself pretty bored in a very short amount of time. Sadly the film, despite some interesting plot points, never picks itself up, nor does anything to recapture your attention. You’d be much better off finding a different animated movie to pick up off the shelf.