Friday, November 22, 2013

Movie Review: Planes

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Animation, voice cast
Cons: Never fully connect with the characters
The Bottom Line:
Predictable plot
And too many characters
Keep it from flying

Look!  Up in the Sky!  It’s Not Cars….

I never feel compelled to watch all the direct to video movies from companies I like.  After all, there’s usually a reason these movies didn’t hit theaters.  Yes, I’ll occasionally miss a gem, but that is rare.

Which brings us to Planes.  Released by Disney without Pixar’s involvement (although John Lasseter, creator of Cars was heavily involved in his role as head of Disney studios), it was originally designed to be a direct to video film in the world of Pixar’s Cars but introducing new characters.  However, somewhere along the line they decided to release it to theaters first.  I never quite caught it while in theaters, but I did get it on Blu-Ray.  Turns out I wasn’t missing much.

Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) is a crop duster, a plane that flies back and forth in straight lines all day long.  But he longs for something more – racing.  As soon as he gets off work, he starts to practice with the help of his friend Chug (Brad Garrett), a truck that is reading Flying for Dummies to help Dusty out.

His ultimate dream is to fly in the Wings Around the World race, and when he surprisingly gets his chance, he’s thrilled.  But can he keep up with his competition?  Will his fear of heights be an issue?  And what about the other planes who want to see him fail?

The animation in this movie is beautiful.  It’s almost enough to make me wish I’d seen it in the theater.  Over the course of the movie, we travel all around the world, and the stuff we fly by is just wonderful to look at.

Unfortunately, the story isn’t as good as the animation.  It is fairly predictable.  Now I don’t mind that as much, however, I never fully got involved in the story.  Instead, I just sat back and waited for the next event to unfold.

For that, I blame the characters.  There are just too many planes in the movie, and there are several sub-plots involving these secondary characters.  The result is that nothing and no one is given quite enough time to develop.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had gotten to know Dusty and one of two others better.  The secondary character plots could have been dropped, especially the romance, and I would have been fine.

Now that isn’t to say I didn’t have fun.  The romance I just mentioned provided a very funny scene.  There are some great jokes along the way, and a couple of times, I was pulled into an action sequence or two that were pretty suspenseful.

And this isn’t the fault of the voice cast at all.  In addition to the others I’ve already mentioned, we’ve got the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Teri Hatcher, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Sinbad, and Val Kilmer.  Everyone does a great job of bring their characters to life, and honestly, if you don’t know who is playing the voices, you don’t hear it at all.  And yes, for those of you keeping track, John Ratzenberger does have a blink and you miss him cameo.

In the end, I think Planes will appeal more to kids than adults, and they will love it.  Me?  I enjoyed parts of it, but I don’t see myself pulling this one out all that frequently.

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