Starring : Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, John Cleese, Priyanka Chopra

Director : Klay Hall

Release Date : 15 Aug 2013

THE problem with Disney’s latest animated offering can be summed up by the main issue I have reviewing it: I can’t remember much about it. I recall a story (predictable as it was), some interesting characters (though not the main ones), and being amused intermittently (even laughing out loud here and there), but as I walked out of the cinema, I realised very little about Planes had stayed with me. In fact, it is so forgettable that just two days later, I’m struggling to find things to write about.

Of course, no one had very high expectations for this spin-off from Pixar’s Cars and Cars 2 – the fact that Pixar apparently didn’t see fit to work on the project, and that it was originally planned to be a direct-to-video title, did not bode well for it. That said, setting the bar low might actually work for Planes, because when you go in expecting the worst, even the mediocre feels passable.

Likes Cars, this animated movie revolves around anthropomorphised vehicles, though this time the focus is on (obviously) planes. Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) is a cropduster plane who works at a cornfield, but dreams of becoming a racer. With the help of his friends Chug the fuel truck (Brad Garrett) and Dottie the forklift (Teri Hatcher), Dusty manages to qualify for the Wings Across The World race. He even manages to win over reclusive navy war plane Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach), who becomes his mentor.

But Dusty’s challenges are just beginning, as he must fly all around the world while competiting against some of the most elite racing planes,  including reigning champ Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith), the
beguiling Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) and the snobby Bulldog (John Cleese); the only race-plane who makes friends with him is the crazy but loyal El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui). Amidst the scorn of all the racers, and Ripslinger’s cunning efforts to make him lose, Dusty must prove that he can be more than what he was built to be. 

Yes, it is not the most soaring of storylines. But despite the unoriginality, Planes does have some things
going for it. Main among these are some really beautiful visuals, which are enhanced even more if you catch the 3D version. The flying race around the world allows the movie to present stunning aerial views
of various iconic locations, including the Taj Mahal, the Himalayan mountain ranges, and Iceland. The
point-of-view animation of various flight manoeuvres are also thrilling to watch.

That said, the realisation of the Planes world is not nearly as unique or interesting as Cars. While there are the occasional puns (an army aircraft carrier is called the USS Flysenhower, for instance) and visual gags (the Statue Of Liberty is a plane carrying a torch!), the movie overall feels rather lacking in visual
creativity. This even carries over to character design, where most of the planes look pretty indistinct from
each other; this is even worse with the non-flying vehicles, because I often couldn’t tell them apart at all.

When it comes to characters, Planes gets the supporting ones down quite nicely, especially the quirky ones like El Chupacabra, who steals every scene he’s in. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t do so well with the main characters – Dusty, Skipper and Ripslinger – all of whom are quite bland and generic. So if you’re looking for a fun animated flick, you could do worse than Planes; just don’t expect it to reach any spectacular heights of filmmaking.


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