Pixar is just one of those companies that I’ve always kept a close eye on. I’m willing to watch pretty much anything they put out, but the Pixar movie that caught me completely off guard was the original Cars movie. It hit me straight in the feels and to this day is still one of my favorite Pixar flicks. When I heard about Planes, this seemed like a no-brainer. Considering the rich history of aviation that California has it seemed like it would be a slam dunk. Sadly, I was more then wrong, and what I witnessed was merely a re-working of Cars 2. Well, luckily for Pixar they didn’t give up on the Planes franchise and put together a sequel: Planes Fire & Rescue. Taking to the skies with a very California-themed movie, how does the flick hold up? Is it on fire? Or will you just get burned.
I’ll keep this spoiler-free, as I was pleasantly surprised with the direction the film took. There is a much deeper side story to this movie that I don’t want to spoil for everyone.
Quick backstory / summary of Planes 1: Dusty Crophopper was a dusting plane that dreamed of becoming a Racing Plane. Working hard, he managed to win Wings Across the Globe aerial race.
At it’s core, Fire & Rescue revolves around the characters of Prop Wash Junction, the air field in which our main character, Dusty Crop-Hopper, lives. The air field is outdated and doesn’t exactly have the proper fire prevention plan, having only one fire truck who happens to be quite old, aka: Mayday. Well, as it happens, an accident occurs and a fire breaks out doing some major damage. TMST (Transport Management and Safety Team) is dispatched and is led by Ryker. He shuts down Propwash Junction until they can find another fire prevention vehicle. Dusty feels terrible about the situation and volunteers to become a Drop Plane. Traveling to the Piston Peak National Park, Dusty goes to become a certified first responder.
What was truly unique about this movie was the attention to detail that was put into the surrounding areas of Piston Peak National Park. Resembling Yosemite National Park there was plenty of CG eye candy to look at. The forests all looked very realistic, with those Cars / Planes little touches. My personal favorite were the “deer” found in this movie, all of which were John Deere tractors. Okay, it made me laugh. All the characters looked amazing and there were some very nice-looking aerial shots that really sold the movie.
One of the areas I was most impressed with was the soundtrack, unlike the original Planes movie’s lack of songs. It really illustrated the atmosphere of the film. There were a couple of songs in particular that truly capture the Fire & Rescue essence of the film while giving it a more blockbuster feel to the movie. Also, voice acting was top notch. Returning in his role as Dusty Crophopper was Dane Cook. While not exactly sold on his Planes 1 performance, in Fire & Rescue there was a lot more range to his acting that really solidified his performance.
I’m really hoping that the crew over at Pixar start to realize what truly makes an exceptional Planes / Cars movie. I was dragged kicking and screaming to the first Cars movie, as I figured it was going to be a Thomas the Tank Engine style show, very elementary and meant for a much younger audience. I was wrong on so many levels. What I saw instead was a love letter to California and a movie that had soul. While Cars 2 and Planes 1 seemed to forget the heart and was more concerned about selling toys. Never focusing on any of the characters they introduce, kinda like the prequel Star Wars films.
While certainly not the best of Pixar’s film, it far surpasses the original Planes movie. It’s a very entertaining movie that kids will more then enjoy. Especially if they are into the Cars / Planes franchise. That being said, as a parent I’ve watched the movie upwards of five times and could stomach watching a couple of more times.