Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue

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Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue

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Cinelinx takes off with Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue on Blu-Ray!

When a bad gear box sidelines Dusty Crophopper (voice of Dane Cook), he joins a group of firefighting aircraft led by a helicopter named Blade Ranger (voice of Ed Harris). Features the voices of Julie Bowen, Hal Holbrook, Wes Studi, and Brad Garrett. 
Directed by Roberts Gannaway.

I think it’s safe to say that Planes: Fire and Rescue wasn't exactly a much-anticipated sequel. The original Planes, riding the popularity of the Cars films, was a box office hit, but the film was generally panned by critics.

Given the lack of critical enthusiasm for the original, when Fire and Rescue landed on my doorstep to review, I honestly didn't expect much. However, Fire and Rescue will entertain the audience it was aiming for; mostly kids 8 to 10 years old. It isn't a classic on the level of other Disney or Pixar features, but if you have a kid that enjoyed the first one, Fire and Rescue continues the Planes formula well enough to make them happy.

Planes: Fire and Rescue is an adventure film first and foremost, so it doesn't have the amount of humor found in most Disney animated films. In fact, I had a few five-year-olds watch the film, who love Disney classics like The Jungle Book and Robin Hood. The colorful visuals kept them entertained for a time, but the lack of big laughs and the somewhat serious tone took a toll, and they got bored quickly. Of course, as I mentioned before, this isn’t a film that will interest kids under 8, so that’s to be expected.

Kids in the 8 to 10-year-old range, however, will likely enjoy the impressive action, which revolves around an out-of-control forest fire. The animation quality is nearly as good as some Pixar features, and the firefighting sequences in particular feature fantastic visuals. Usually, smoke and fire are among the hardest things to animate, but here, they look lifelike.

While Fire and Rescue will appeal to the aspiring eight-year-old fireman, it falls short of having the wide appeal it should. The plot is pretty predictable: Dusty finds he can no longer race, so he joins a group of firefighting airplanes, helicopters, and bulldozers. Of course, things don’t go well with his co-workers and he has a crisis of confidence, but a giant wildfire unites everyone and Dusty is able to save the day. Oh, by the way, spoiler alert.

The predictability would be fine if the movie was consistently entertaining, but things drag a bit, and it all feels like something you've seen before. There is also an inordinate number of characters to keep up with; I count no fewer than 20 recognizable actors in the cast. That doesn't count the cameo voices (which include Brad Paisley, Erik Estrada, and Brent Musburger), and the film doesn't make it easy to keep up with who everyone is. If I couldn't keep up with all the characters, I don’t know how kids are supposed to. Surely this wasn't done just to make more toys. Surely. And don’t even get me started on why someone at Disney chose to cast Dane Cook, whose stand-up comedy routine is hardly kid-friendly, to voice the lead character of Dusty.

In addition, in a strange attempt to generate some humor, the film resorts to some strange racial stereotypes among some of the characters. Wes Studi, who is Native American, voices a helicopter named Windlifter, yet spends the whole movie spouting off nonsensical babble in a Native American accent. Since helicopters don’t exactly exhibit race or culture characteristics, having the character go into “crazy Indian” mode comes across as painfully awkward at best, and downright offensive at worst. Later, the characters are watching a TV show in which a car caught committing crimes speaks a bit too “urban,” if you know what I mean.

Planes: Fire and Rescue is a bit too dramatic for very young children, but kids in the 8-10 year range will eat it up. It needed more humor to keep the little ones happy and to keep adults from being bored, but it seems content on getting by on its outstanding visuals and celebrity voices. While Planes: Fire and Rescue isn’t terrible, it feels like generic family entertainment. It certainly looks like a great Disney film; I just wished it entertained like one.

Planes: Fire and Rescue features some great-looking animation, and the high definition video featured on the Blu-ray showcases it well. Colors are bold and detail is fantastic. The audio is also up to the task, a spiffy 7.1 DTS HD-MA mix with a nice surround effect and excellent channel separation. Mark Mancina’s score for the film is great, and it gets a nice presentation with this soundtrack.

Disney stocked the Blu-ray with some nice extras, considering this is merely a release for kids. There is a nice mix of animated shorts, featurettes, and deleted scenes. The special features are:

“Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular.” This six-minute short features Dusty and Chug in an air show stunt gone awry. It’s a fun little cartoon in the Looney Tunes vein of humor.

“Welcome to Piston Peak.” This three-minute vintage-style promo of the fictional park featured in the film. It’s fun, but fairly disposable.

“CHoPs TV Promo.” Similar to the “CHoPs” gag contained in the film, this fake 30-second commercial for the show is a throwback to TV promos from the 1970s.

“Air Attack: Firefighters from the Sky.” This five-minute featurette highlights the real-life firefighters and smoke jumpers in California who served as the research source for the film.

Deleted Scenes. Two deleted scenes, “Honkers” and “Dusty’s Dream No More,” are included. The scenes can be viewed individually or with introductions by director Roberts Gannaway and producer Ferrell Barron.

“Still I Fly” Music Video. The film’s theme song by Spencer Lee is included as a music video, incorporating footage of Lee and clips from the film.

Animated Shorts. Two shorts featuring Planes characters, “Dipper” and “Smoke Jumpers,” are included. Each run just a few minutes long. 

Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, compatible with iTunes, Ultraviolet, and Disney Movies Anywhere, is included.

Release Date: November 4, 2013
Rating: PG
Running time: 84 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: Englsih 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.
Subtitles: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish.
Special features: “Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular” animated short, “Welcome to Piston Peak” promo, “CHoPs” TV Promo,  “Air Attack: Firefighters from the Sky” featurette, Two deleted scenes, “Still I Fly” music video, Two animated shorts, Digital Copy.
Label: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

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Editor review

1 reviews

THE BOTTOM LINE: Planes: Fire and Rescue is standard kiddie fare
Overall rating 
The Movie 
Picture Quality 
Audio Quality 
Special Features 
Planes: Fire and Rescue isn't a Disney classic by any means, but the excellent animation and action-packed story will appeal to some kids. It may worth a rent if your kid enjoyed the original, but don’t expect anything new or groundbreaking.
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