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Director: Klay Hall
Writers: Jeffrey M. Howard, Klay Hall, John Lasseter
Voice Cast: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad, Gabriel Iglesias, Colin Cowherd, Danny Mann, Brent Musburger, Oliver Kalkofe, John Ratzenberger
Synopsis: A crop dusting plane with a fear of heights lives his dream of competing in a famous around-the-world aerial race.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor
From above the world of Cars
As many of my readers know, I've been one of the few critics out there that have openly defended all the "Cars" films to this date. Granted, I would never call any of them great movies, and I do agree with most people that they're not up to Pixar's usual standards. In fact, I can see why a lot of people wouldn't like them, but to be fair, they're not as bad as people think they are.
Both films featured great voice acting, and some amazing visuals. And even though the stories weren't always the best, they had a lot of good things going for them as well. In the first movie, it had a very strong message about friendship, and how there's more important things in life than competition and success. Sure, you can make the argument that other movies have covered that message better in the past, and I don't disagree. However, for what "Cars" was, it was still a fairly entertaining family movie.
Same thing goes for "Cars 2." Again, it wasn't a great movie, and it's story was arguably less focused on developing characters. However, it still had a lot of creative visuals, and the classic "James Bond" references were very inspired.
Unfortunately, I can't say any of that about "Planes." Unlike the previous films in the "Cars" franchise, this one doesn't even try to do anything that's unique in terms of story wise. No, it's nothing more than the run of the mill underdog story about a young crop plane named Dusty, who wants to win some race that features all the fastest planes in the world. No moral about friendship or anything. No, it's just a straight up racing film with planes; while featuring an underdog tone in ilk of "Rocky." Yes, they even mention "Rocky" in this film too, but that kind of begs the question...how would these planes know anything about the film, "Rocky?" I thought this was supposed to be an imaginary world where humans don't exist.
Does that mean that the "Rocky" films in their world feature like some small car fighting a monster truck or something instead of the one we've seen before? And for that matter, they did mention the film, "Old Yeller", in this movie too. Does that mean that maybe old yeller was some sort of small toy car that acted like a dog then? Unfortunately, none of this is answered after these two films are mentioned briefly. Therefore, if you weren't a fan of the concept of "Cars" featuring a world without humans, then I doubt "Planes" will change your mind about it. If anything, it might drive you crazy thinking about it.
And while we're on the subject, why the hell would this world need crop dusting planes if there's no humans or organic lifeforms around? Oh well, I didn't nitpick this much about "Cars 2", when it showed how they had restrooms; which begs the question...how do those things go to the bathroom? Anyway, I guess we can let a few of these slide, but they're worth bringing up.
However, as I've always told my readers before, an animated movie can still get away with a cliched predictable story as long as the characters are memorable and well developed. Sadly, "Planes" doesn't have any of those outside of two of it's characters. Of course, our main hero Dusty is developed well, and his trainer has quite an interesting story arc as well. Unfortunately, the rest of the characters are fairly forgettable, and some resort to being written as bland stereotypes to make up for the script's lack in character development.
The visuals are very impressive; especially if you see it in 3-D. The flight sequences in "Planes" are simply amazing, as you can't help but feel like you're actually flying with them. Sadly, the editing for this film can get a bit sloppy between scenes, and the pacing feels a bit rushed if I'm to be honest.
Not to mention the production value of this movie isn't that great either considering it's a theatrical release, as the character designs and animation definitely pales in comparison to the past films of this franchise.. However, what can you expect from a movie that was originally supposed to be made for DVD/Blue Rays only? For those of you that don't know, "Planes" was originally supposed to be a straight to DVD release for Disney, but they opted to release it in theaters instead. Why would they do this? I have no idea. Maybe they want to try to sell more toys, as the "Cars" franchise does have a successful toy line.
Before any readers start to bash Pixar for this mess, I should point out that this isn't made by them. No, unlike the past movies for this franchise, "Planes" is developed by the regular Disney animated studio that brought us such hits like "Sleeping Beauty", "Wreck-It Ralph" and others. Therefore, if you want to blame someone, then blame them.
Look, I would never say that "Planes" is a bad movie by any means, as it's definitely a lot better than most family films. Unfortunately, this movie might've been better served being a direct to DVD sequel instead as it was originally planned. Sure, the 3-D is great, but everything else about the film doesn't make it worth spending that extra money to see it in theaters.
Overall, I'd have to give this film a two out of four. It's a solid family film to rent out once it hits Blue Ray/DVD, but I wouldn't pay to see this in theaters.
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© 2013 Steven Escareno