It’s easy to say that “Planes” is basically a carbon copy of “Cars,” but I don’t really see it that way. I’ve visited with many people about the movie, both online and in person, and the perception that it’s a copy is the first thing I always hear. In fact, that’s what I assumed before I actually saw the movie. I think the film’s tagline of “Set above the world of ‘Cars'” helps to leade everyone to this assumption. There are obvious comparisons between the concepts of both movies, but DisneyToon Studios has put together a movie that looks great and features a story that can stand on its own.
The highlight of “Planes” is definitely the quality of the 3D animation, and I have to admit that caught me by surprise. The animators at DisneyToon Studios have borrowed from Pixar’s Renderman software to do this film, and it definitely shows. It’s very pleasing to the eye, and the three variations of flight scenes that include a third-person perspective looking on at planes as they fly toward the screen, the first-plane perspective with a roller coaster-like feel from inside the plane looking through the windshields, and the dizzying view that represents Dusty’s vertigo. All three of them provide a very unique feel that my family and I all enjoyed.
The music, while not the best features of the film, has several good moments. One of the best scenes of the film is when El Chupacabra, a very full-of-himself Mexican racing legend, serenades a Canadian plane named Rochelle (seen above) with an over the top and aggressive rendition of “Love Machine.” Dusty suggests that he should take it down a notch, and the resulting softer version with a Mariachi band in the background, really gets her attention. It’s easily one of the most memorable scenes in the film.
The plot didn’t really offer much in the way of surprises, but that’s actually a good thing in this case. One of the things I didn’t care for as much in “Cars 2” is that they introduced a secret-agent plot that drew the attention away from racing. In “Planes,” the race is the one and only focus of the film, and for a movie that has an audience that primarily consists of children and parents, that’s the correct choice and the reason that it really works well.
“Planes: Fire & Rescue” is coming next summer. I wonder if we’ll get future movies with other anthropomorphic vehicles like “Boats,” “Trains” and maybe “Construction?” If they are anywhere as good as “Planes,” I’d certainly welcome them all.
Dane Cook (“Louie,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Dan in Real Life”) as Dusty, Stacy Keach (“The Bourne Legacy,” “Nebraska”) as Navy Corsair Skipper, Teri Hatcher (ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” “Coraline”) as say-it-like-it-is mechanic Dottie, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Seinfeld”) as Rochelle, Priyanka Chopra (“Barfi!”) as Ishani, John Cleese (Monty Python, “A Fish Called Wanda”) as Bulldog, Carlos Alazraqui (James Garcia on Comedy Central’s “Reno 911”) as El Chupacabra, Roger Craig Smith (Captain America in Disney XD’s “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,” voice of Sonic The Hedgehog in “Wreck-It Ralph”) as the world champion racer Ripslinger, Val Kilmer (“Batman Forever,” “Top Gun”) as Bravo and Anthony Edwards (TV’s “ER,” “Top Gun”) as Echo.
Exclusive Franz’s Song: Produced exclusively for Blu-ray and HD Digital, this never-before-seen completely finished animated song features the German mini-car, Franz Fliegenhosen, who encourages Dusty on his flight.
Klay’s Flight Plan: Follow Director Klay Hall’s personal journey during the making of “Planes” and discover why his family connection to aviation made “Planes” his perfect project. Fly along with Klay as he lands on a working aircraft carrier to get first-hand experience on the flight deck.
Deleted Scenes: Director Klay Hall and Producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn introduce deleted scenes from the movie 1. Training Montage: Taj Mahal
Meet the Racers: Featurettes introducing racers El Chupacabra (1:15), Ripslinger (1:15), Dusty (:90), and Ishani (:90).
Top 10 Flyers: ESPN’s Colin Cowherd hosts a fun, fast-paced countdown of the greatest aviators in history.
Video – “Planes” Extended Sneak Peek: