In the follow up from Disney’s 2013 film Planes, star racer Dusty Crophopper is back in Planes: Fire & Rescue. In this sequel, Dusty tragically discovers he can no longer race after his gear box fails on a morning practice flight, meaning that if he pushes himself to his full speed, he will crash. Devastated, Dusty joins a fire and rescue team to learn to be an aerial firefighter, teaming up with a squad of planes and cars designed to control forest fires in the area. As a trainee, Dusty learns the ropes from veteran firefighter Blade Ranger, but still struggles when attempting to fly at top speeds. But everything changes when an unexpected and out of control fire threatens tourists staying at a nearby campsite, and Dusty must choose whether to risk pushing himself to the limit, or the lives of the innocent vehicles caught in the blaze.
Unfortunately, I think there have been one too many installments to the Cars/Planes franchise, and there are still Cars 3 and a planned Planes 3 to come! There is very little originality left to these stories, and they’ve all become reworkings of one another, each with a slightly different premise. In the case of Planes: Fire & Rescue, the premise was actually kind of interesting: planes battling forest fires lent itself to some high-action and high-stakes situations, which were the most exciting scenes in the movie and were handled well with some great, modern CGI and a swelling (if slightly cliche) score. But the same tired formula remained where the hero is faced with a seemingly impossible task and comes out on top, with an ending that you will all see coming. It is a predictable and very blase plot line that won’t hold the attention of anyone over the age of six.
But what the movie lacked, and what it so desperately needed, was some cleverness and adult-oriented humour in the writing. While kids will get a kick out of the fast-paced action and the cute and colourful characters, there is nothing there to entertain the poor parents who’ve been dragged along with them. The jokes are all relatively juvenile and there is none of that witty comedy injected into many animated films these days that purposefully aims to fly right over the little one’s heads and make the adults laugh. This film is purely for the kids, so you’re better off pawning this one off to the nanny and kicking your feet up with a movie with more character.
With an 83 minute run time, the best part about the film is that it’s short, so if you do end up getting dragged along by your kids at least you wont be there for very long. While there are some engaging fire-fighting scenes, there isn’t a whole lot more for the adults to enjoy, and in my opinion a world with no people or animals, where its the forms of life are various makes of transport, is a little disconcerting. But if you know some kids who aren’t old enough yet to enjoy a complex plot, then they will really enjoy the excitement and adventure.
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