Planes: Fire and Rescue

Planes: Fire and Rescue is Disney’s not-much anticipated sequel to 2013’s Planes – itself a spin-off of Pixar’s Cars franchise – which was a critical flop but a box-office and merchandising success.

Fire and Rescue takes up the story of Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), a crop-duster with a fear of heights turned successful racing plane, where the first film left off. Now a world champion, Dusty’s racing career is put in jeopardy when his gearbox breaks and his engineer discovers it’s no longer in production.

A fairly muddled plot-twist leaves Dusty needing to retrain as a fire plane to save his local airport. The superficially cocky plane flies to Piston Peak National Park, where he meets a rag-tag fire and rescue team, headed up by grumpy helicopter and former TV star, Blade Ranger (Ed Harris).

Cue a predictable, but never the less fun, story of a cocky racer who discovers his inner hero. Think A Few Good Men with talking planes.

The film-makers met with real fire and rescue teams in California to ensure that the fires and rescue tactics were accurate, and the fire-fighting scenes are visually impressive, but the writers missed an opportunity to teach kids more about the causes of fires and how to prevent them.

There are a host of brash new characters introduced. It’s a cheap shot to criticize a 3D kids film for having 2 dimensional characters, but most of the new recruits are fun parodies, but lack depth. Cad Spinner, a smarmy SUV, and Lil’ Dipper, a stalkerish Super Scooper, being the worst offenders. Heavy-lift helicopter, Windrush, who confuses the rest of the team with incomprehensible Native American sayings, at least falls clear of easy Hollywood stereotypes.

While the plot and characters are far from perfect the film is very well-produced, has entertaining action sequences, and there are some nice touches to the world, like paper aeroplanes that nest in trees, as well as a few corny puns for the parents, such as a cameo from a moustache-wielding yacht called Boat Reynolds.

Planes: Fire and Rescue lacks depth, and certainly fails to reach the heights of previous Disney or Pixar films, but it’s a surprisingly fun kids film and certainly an improvement on the first movie.

itsFilmtastic Rating

Author

Jack Silver

Jack Silver is an actor and writer from London. You can follow him on Twitter @jacksilver.