Planes II: Fire and Rescue Review

Planes II: Fire and Rescue

In popular culture one of the challenges of the successful artiste is to avoid becoming pigeon-holed.

To be associated with one, narrow, genre within your field can often be negatively interpreted as having only one skill.

Ask Dame Danny Dyer.

Often a writer or a musician emerges with a ‘breakthrough’ piece of work, the critics applaud and executives wet their pants as the sales roll in.

The talent is happy, but knows they have more to offer. He or she is at least two-dimensional, possibly more. And by Jove this is going to be demonstrated.

No matter what the money men say.

No matter how appalling the difficult second novel.

And you may wonder what has this got to do with Planes II: Fire and Rescue, the latest children’s animated film from the Disney Pixar Studio.

Well, this is something that’s been troubling me for a while now. As an enormously successful writer and Soundbite Culture‘s male role model, I have become the unofficial spokesperson for the animated movie.

Subconsciously, I’ve taken to reviewing the CBeebies output. I find myself absent-mindedly signing off emails with ‘children’s movie correspondent’ in bold font.

Occasionally I can be seen offering snide critiques of my own offspring. I described a recent ballet performance by my daughter as ‘derivative’.

To her face.

I know I have more to offer, but when an unusually hairy man issues his edicts I must obey. After all I am a pro.

And the sprogs love a trip to the flicks.

Back to Planes II, where Dusty, a nifty little talking, crop spraying, champion light racing plane has happily let himself become typecast as the leading man.

But when diagnosed with a faulty gearbox that has long since been discontinued Dusty is forced to retire from racing for his own protection.

Struggling to come to terms with this, Dusty predictably goes rogue one evening and accidentally crash lands at his Propwash Junction airport, causing a fire.

The resulting accident investigation results in the airport being ordered to close due to inadequate fire fighting personnel manning the site.

Being unfit for purpose as a racing plane doesn’t stop our brave hero from re-training as a fire-fighting vehicle, his crop dusting hardware now used to release large deposits of forest- fire suppressing powder

He travels to Piston Park where he meets his mentor Blade, a hard taskmaster who takes an immediate dislike to Dusty. Blade, it transpires, was once an actor, famous as a law enforcement helicopter on the TV series CHOPS. Having watched his co-star perish in a fire, Blade turned his back on acting and decided to become a fire-fighter.

Does Dusty have what it takes to gain the trust of his teacher and become a true hero? Will he be certified as a fire-fighting aeroplane and save his home and the livelihood of his friends? Will his dodgy gearbox stand up to the job?

I am constantly surprised by the originality and quality of children’s movies. However Planes II has the weary feel of a studio going through the motions. Churning out more of the same at the behest of the bean-counters.

The animation and 3D effects are superb, the plot predictable and slow.

The story-teller’s determination to champion the bravery of real life fire-fighters is noble but ultimately smacks of glorifying the American Way.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Sly Stallone entered stage left voicing a washed up boxer aircraft with a heart of gold and a penchant for punching communist spyplanes.

But hey I’m not here solely to be negative, in fact if the film’s producers are prepared to open their cynical hearts I’ve already started work on a second sequel involving flying postmen.

Or has that already been done?

Anything to avoid being typecast.

Frank Gardiner

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August 2014
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