x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Film review: Planes: Fire & Rescue is a short, fun flight

Just 83 minutes long, Planes: Fire & rescue is one of the funnier animated films that will amuse the adults and enchant the kids this summer.

From left, Blackout, voiced by Danny Pardo, Dynamite, voiced by Regina King, Windlifter, voiced by Wes Studi, and Lil’ Dipper, voiced by Julie Bowen in Planes: Fire & Rescue. AP Photo / Disney
From left, Blackout, voiced by Danny Pardo, Dynamite, voiced by Regina King, Windlifter, voiced by Wes Studi, and Lil’ Dipper, voiced by Julie Bowen in Planes: Fire & Rescue. AP Photo / Disney

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Director: Roberts Gannaway

Starring: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Wes Studi, Regina King

Three stars

I somehow missed the 2013 animated Disney film Planes, which other critics dismissed as a low-rent version of Pixar’s Cars franchise, only with propellers. And because I’ve always thought the Cars franchise was Pixar’s weakest offering, I went into the Planes sequel with low expectations.

Turns out Planes: Fire & Rescue is a lot of fun. It’s a whole lot better than the bloated Cars 2, the usually reliable Pixar’s only dud. Fire & Rescue features a fast-paced plot and enough humour to keep both adults and children amused.

Its chief strengths, though, are the film’s exciting action scenes and gorgeous animation. The ­sequences involving various planes and helicopters sweeping through the sky and dumping water and fire-retardant on raging ­infernos are thrilling and beautifully animated.

One in particular, revolving around a blocked highway and a train trapped on a track surrounded by a raging forest fire, is one of the best action scenes of the summer, made even better by the clever use of 3-D effects. You’ll duck to avoid the burning embers that fly off the screen; Planes: Fire & Rescue is another example of how animated films are far more effective in 3-D than live-action movies, which usually look dingy and washed-out.

As in the Cars films, the Planes franchise exists in a universe where vehicles, planes and ­helicopters all talk, have human personalities and have big, expressive eyes.

The film focuses on Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook), a dust cropper who became a famous racer in the first film. As the sequel opens, his ­racing days seem over because of mechanical problems.

Worse, Dusty’s hometown ­airport is shut down after its old fire truck, Mayday (Hal Holbrook), is declared too decrepit to properly protect the airstrip. So Dusty decides to train as a firefighter to save his hometown. He heads off to a majestic national park, where he trains with a tough trainer/helicopter (Ed Harris) and a ­Native American Sikorsky Sky Crane chopper (Wes Studi).

The Sikorsky – who likes to tell profound-sounding stories that are actually obtuse – is the funniest character in the movie. It helps that Studi plays the character with a sly sense of humour.

Fun, too, is the cute relationship between two old married RVs (the married comedy legends Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, the ­parents of Ben Stiller) who have their 50th wedding anniversary ruined by a wildfire.

At a brisk 83 minutes, this has the perfect running time for an animated children’s film – for children and adults alike.

Planes: Fire & Rescue is out now in UAE cinemas

* Associated Press