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Review: Disney's Planes

Updated on January 18, 2018
Jonathan Sabin profile image

Jonathan has been writing since 1995 about various topics, from movie reviews, works of fiction and media commentaries to Bible sermons.

Ever since Disney & Pixar signed a contract before Toy Story was released, Disney has had sequel rights to all Pixar movies. Back in 2000, Disney produced the Toy Story spin-off "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" direct-to-video. "Planes", a spin-off of Cars, was going to be too, earlier in spring 2013. However, it was changed to a theatrical distribution in August. It wasn't made at Disney's original flagship studio in the USA, the one that made movies like Bambi & Wreck-It Ralph. It was produced by Disney Toon Studios, a lesser subsidiary that's often relegated to direct-to-video & other lower-budget animated productions, outsourcing overseas for much of the animation. Planes stars Dusty Crophopper, a crop-dusting plane who dreams big of being a stunt plane & entering a big-time air show. With numerous shots of planes in the front of distant skies, there's positive parallax galore in the 3D version, & the ending especially is an engrossing thrill. It has a number of elements that feel right in a way & make it work, but, is this any credit to the team who made it? No. Major elements were, & I'm not exagerating, DIRECTLY COPIED from Cars & Cars 2. The character of Skipper is a clone of Doc Hudson. The concept that he turns Dusty away at first, secretly watching him practice, the scene where he tries 'racing' again, (in this case, flying), Dusty finding a secret about his past that involved his career ending because of a crash, & Skipper returning at the end. The concept of an around-the-world race & all the colorful, multi-national competitors with larger-than-life stereotypical personalities. Even the Mexican lover is a rip-off of Francesco Bernoli, the Italian lover from Cars 2, (they even have the same colors). Again, we face the issue of plot exposition & running time, in various parts, but especially at the quarter mark or so where it drags a little while offering few details essential to the story. If you as a filmmaker realize that the film you're making is obviously not the strongest, have some discretion & stick to what needs to be in it, strength through compression. I'm not against length in a film, (The Sound of Music, Star Wars & The Parent Trap movies exceed 2 hours, yet are enjoyable virtually every minute.) They're following Pixar's example, who in recent years has been resting on its' laurels while storyboarding, putting through most every idea without weeding. You know a good job has been done when scenes have been deleted & you STILL have a lengthy movie with only the strongest material still standing. Unfortunately that's not the case with Planes. If you like Car's, then you'll have fun with this movie, especially in 3D. Just don't go in expecting anything profound.

Two and a half stars out of five.

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