By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)
From “The World of Cars”, DisneyToon Studios presents this spin off movie which thankfully does not carry the Disney/Pixar label. The name Disney/Pixar, at one time, represented a high standard of beautiful computer animation and magical storytelling. Last year’s Brave and this year’s Monster’s University have shown a slight diminishment of that quality of movie making. However, had Planes carried the celebrated studio’s name, fans would be calling for a major house cleaning. To be fair, Planes is not a terrible movie. It just isn’t on par with most films produced by Disney/Pixar.
When the opening credits began to roll during the screening, the Pixar logo never appeared, even though this movie takes place within a world created by the brand. What followed was a movie that will moderately entertain small children, but will probably fail to enlighten anyone else. Planes suffers from a formulaic story and plot, occasionally funny, but often drab humor, cheap looking computer animation and weak, almost non-existent 3D. Considering that the studio had originally intended this movie for a straight-to-video release, these results are not surprising whatsoever.
Within the world of Cars, anthropomorphic airplanes exist with colorful and fun personalities of their own. Main character Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) works a boring job crop dusting while dreaming of becoming a racing plane. His friends Chug (Brad Garrett), Dottie (Teri Hatcher) and mentor Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach) help Dusty train and prepare so that he can pursue his dream and try out for a global aerial race. Even though not made for racing, Dusty’s heart and determination help him qualify, but he will have to earn the respect of the other planes. He will especially have to outwit the arrogant and deceitful Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith).
Director Klay Hall and writer Jeffery M. Howard, who both previously wrote and directed straight-to-video and television movies for Disney, produce a movie undeserving of a theatrical release. DisneyToon Studios decided that they would gamble by releasing Planes theatrically. My recommendation is for people not to gamble their money on this sub-par animated movie. The film gets low grades for its animation, unnecessary 3D, and weak and lazy story telling. The filmmakers rehash the usual, “underdog triumphs over adversity,” story without offering audiences anything fresh or dynamic.
The comedic writing is a bit lackluster as well, despite the potential of some fun and colorful characters. The producers have assembled a fine cast of voice talent, but the scenarios and humor are typical of most animated movies. The film has its fun moments, and I honestly laughed a few times. However, the overall result failed to impress me. This is a movie with which the studios should have stuck with their original video release plan.
Seriously, if I were a studio head at Disney, I would have sent this film back and refused to release it in cinemas. This uninspired release does not deserve ticket money. I’m sure there will be children begging their parents to see it, but my recommendation is to pay matinee prices or make them wait for a rental if that’s possible. A sequel titled Planes: Fire & Rescue is in the works. I sincerely hope that if Disney insists on releasing it in theaters, they at least make their movie look like they actually care about their product.