Planes 2: Fire And Rescue (3D)
Cert: U / 84 mins / Dir. Bobs Gannaway
Disney's anthropomorphic aeronautical spinoffs return to cinemas a mere year after their last, slightly muted outing, but can a new director propel the returning core-cast to a new altitude? As champion racing-plane Dusty Crophopper develops the U-Certificate equivalent of a terminal illness*1 and decides on a change of career in order to help Mayday, the lovably decrepit airport fire-truck, the film is a step above the 'who's going to win the race? vibe that's par for this particular course. While it's still strictly youngling-friendly, there's a lot more riding on the outcome of Planes 2, which should help it connect more with older audiences.
The film goes some way to giving the older folks a few wry grins (the Howard The Duck and CHiPs references are awesome, and I have to admit that I loved the AC/DC, Thunderstruck sequence) including a scattering of very mild double entendres, but generally speaking if you're here for the film, you're here for the characters. The central thread about trust, duty and (to a lesser extent) sacrifice gives Fire and Rescue a whole lot more heart than its predecessor, and along with the film's opening dedication to the world's firefighters, suggests that this is more than just a cash-in sequel to a cash-in spinoff.
Yet Despite the absolutely gorgeous animation, this isn't Disney bringing their A-game (which would seem self-evident since the feature was produced by DisneyToon Studios, the straight-to-video arm of their animation house), but then it's not the quality of the visuals which hold the film back. The voice-casting has an air of B-list about it (or at least, not the A-list we're accustomed to for this sort of thing), and while the actors do a marvellous job, it's one string less in the bow of the marketing department. Combine this with the shortened run-time*2 and you get the feeling that this is filler, in lieu of something big for the Summer holidays. There's no real harm in this of course, but Fire and Rescue had the potential to be so much more than an amusing distraction for the little ones.
While it may not be a classic in the making, Planes 2: Fire and Rescue is pleasantly surprising and could well hold its own in the Summer marketplace if it can attract an audience*3. Visually stunning in its aerial sequences, it's worth a watch if you're in the mood for a warm, if undemanding, family movie.
And I'm not just being nice because there's a character called Blackout in it ;)
It's not dissimilar to the final product, no.
For the most part.
I reckon it kinda does.
(don't tell Disney this, but you won't lose too much by watching it at home; it's still a straight-to-video spinoff at heart).
Probably only the the company of my nephew/niece.
There isn't. Gutted. Although there is that eagle/hawk sound-effect that you hear in everything.
And was I the only one who thought of Mustafar thoughout the movie's incendiary finale?
*1 I know I mentioned it with a flippant tone, but he really does develop have a heart condition, and while it's handled very euphemistically, there is a sense of consequence about the whole thing.
*2 Monsters University clocked in at 110 minutes, and Wreck-It Ralph at 92, but more importantly both of these films had a larger scope.
*3 The screening I attended had an audience of no more than 20 people, which given it was daytime during the school holidays (and on the film's opening day) is worryingly low. Hence the need for stronger marketing; ie 'celeb' voice actors.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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