Tuesday 20 August 2013

Today's Review: Planes

I have stated before how much of a hardcore Pixar fan I am, and while I enjoy both Cars and Cars 2, I can truthfully say they are probably the weakest of Pixar's offerings. So upon hearing that Planes was in production, purely under the Disney name, it's fair to say I was pretty skeptical about how it would turn out.

Planes stars Dane Cook as Dusty Crophopper (great name for a hero), a crop duster plane who is bored of his predestined crop duster life, and whose greatest dream is to compete in a round the world race with the flying elite. After practicing hard and trying out for the qualifiers, Dusty doesn't quite make the cut, but then he does in an unsurprising turn of events. So off Dusty goes to the big leagues, accompanied by his Mater-like fuel truck buddy Chug (Brad Garrett) and mechanic Dottie (Teri Hatcher). But will this underdog be able to stand up against some of the best racers in the world, especially while suffering from an ironic fear of heights?

I'm gonna call Planes for what it clearly is, a shameless attempt at selling merchandise. Cars is a cash cow franchise in terms of the enormous amount of crap available with Lightning McQueen emblazoned on it, and I've been seeing Planes stuff filling the shelves for a few weeks now. But despite the merchandising, Cars and even its sequel managed to at least be decent films. The same cannot be said for Planes. Sure, it has a coherent enough plot, some nice visuals, but that's about it.

Clocking in at just over an hour and a half, Planes skims through everything with the minimal amount of plot and character development. We have a hero who wants to be a racer, so he becomes a racer. He meets a bunch of other racers who are nothing more than hollow stereotypes. There's the Mexican plane who just acts Mexican, the British plane who is just John Cleese spouting a few terrible one liners. I could go through the others, but they're all pretty forgettable. Together these planes have a few races, though that's often hard to miss because all we're treated to is a couple of minutes of them all flying quite nicely near each other before they're all talking at the next resting point. We hardly even see anyone cross the finish line. The scenes and locations chop and change so often I was often left at a loss for an explanation as to why things were happening. I found it hard to see why anyone was motivated to do anything, because the characters didn't seem to form any meaningful relationships with one another.

I'm sure nobody's surprised though. It was pretty clear from the start that this was a movie intended for shifting merchandise. There's so much crammed into this movie, but it's all so underdeveloped and... well, boring. It's turned out pretty much like the toys lining the shelves. Colourful? Pretty? Yes. But beneath the surface it's all just meaningless, empty crap.

My rating: 1/5


  1. Ha ha!! Great review - thanks!

    Yes, a shameful Disney version of a Pixar movie made in order to shift toys, you were bang on.

    And there's already a sequel coming next summer - Planes 2: Fire & Rescue - with plans for a Planes 3 in 2015.

    Luckily, there'll still be loads of potentially great animated movies coming out too. Look out for Pixar's The Good Dinosaur coming next summer. "Proper" Disney have Frozen coming out this Christmas (first trailer looks promising). Also coming soon - Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, The Lego Movie, Rio 2 and Dreamwork's Mr Peabody & Sherman next spring.

    I love animated movies. Planes (and it's sequels) were supposed to go straight to DVD but Disney have brought them to cinemas to shift toys as you've said. Probably best to ignore them unless you're a really easily pleased 8-year old.

    1. Yeah, I was surprised how far into production the second one is already. Unfortunately I have some easily pleased children, so I'll probably be dragged along to see the rest of the franchise. It's a shame that it's so lacklustre really, DisneyToon may not be the best company, but they've churned out some good movies, like the Tinket Bell series, which is actually pretty good.

      I'm really looking forward to The Good Dinosaur, and also Inside Out. It seems like it's been a while since Pixar have done a movie with a truly original premise, and that's when they're at their best. I'm liking the sound of Frozen as well, the fairy tale based Disney features have been on top form since John Lasseter became CCO (well, so have the others really). I'm hoping Cloudy 2 doesn't play like a shameless cash in, because I really loved the first one. I saw the trailer attached to Planes last night, looks like a food based Jurassic Park: The Lost World, not sure what to think at the moment. But still, there are indeed some potentially great animated movies on the horizon.