By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
DisneyToon has made Planes to showcase all the various forms of vehicular transportation from a world created by PIXAR’s Cars. This animation company has produced enough products that are enjoyable for a younger audience, but for the consummate planes enthusiast, it makes a sizable dent with plenty of points to note or pick apart if this movie can be put on pause. But there is no denying that going to an air show is better than sitting in a theatre.
The highlight of this film is with seeing all the planes, trains and automobiles that populate this world. Audiences are introduced to Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), a crop duster with some really high aspirations. He wants to compete in a high stakes race around the world. But he has one wee little problem: he has a fear of heights. Dusty is hoping a veteran plane from the World War II days, Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach), will mentor him. However, this old rust bucket is not immediately convinced.
After observing the little-plane-that-could has a lot of heart, this older war plane concedes and offers some advice so Dusty can be a top gun. In the road ahead, both of them will have to overcome obstacles, stigmas and embarrassment in order to succeed—and that’s where this movie is good. It delivers a positive message.
In what fails is this film’s pacing. After a very slow start, the plot picks up when Dusty gets a nemesis, an arrogant plane by the name of Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith). Even then, the pacing stutters as the film tries to get off the ground. One problem lies with the soundtrack. Original songs are used over familiar hits that speaks about the human condition to succeed. This film would certainly soar if it used Van Halen’s “Dreams,” Elton John’s “Rocketman,” Tom Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open” or even Joey Scarbury’s “Believe it or Not.” Any other Top Gun reference can get ignored.
And when the next animated film is coming fresh off the heels of Turbo, many viewers and reviewers are going to draw comparisons. Both heroes find themselves ‘damaged’ and they have to find the courage within to finish off what they have started. Even the casting is not perfect. Smith is fine as the much despised antagonist. He gives the character that conviction that can be read right away. Chug (Brad Garrett) is a fuel truck that is very easily a Mater clone. He’s a lot more tolerable to put up with than the hillbilly. Instead, another race-plane, El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), fills that role. He gets his own subplot which is really unneeded. Interestingly, Keach is fine as Riley. He has that voice that shows how tired the old war plane has become and his back story is far more interesting than the other characters combined.
When a large cast is involved, this film is no doubt going to have a bonanza of toys being released at the same time. This film shamelessly details what may come. Some enthusiasts of this series may well hope that a mug of Dusty’s face, spinning blades included, will get manufactured. The real big question is how well will the trilogy of films take off. Another movie is planned for 2014, titled: Planes: Fire & Rescue.
Viewers can only hope that this sequel will have better ariel and 3D effects. In what the first movie offered, very little was done to make people feel like they were flying along with the story. Even the soaring 3D effects felt flat.
3 Stars out of 5