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Review: 'Planes: Fire & Rescue' fizzles out

Planes: Fire & Rescue opened July 18th, 2014
Theatrical release poster

Planes: Fire & Rescue


Planes: Fire & Rescue is the sequel to Disney’s 2013 Cars spin-off, Planes. Fire & Rescue follows Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) on his journey to get certified as a fire fighting aircraft after learning that his engine is malfunctioning and he may not be able to race any longer. There are plenty of familiar old faces, as well as a new cast of characters that are introduced to us along the way.

Skipper (voiced by Stacy Keach), Dottie (voiced by Teri Hatcher), Chug (voiced by Brad Garrett), and Sparky (voiced by Danny Mann) all return from the original film, and provide a pleasant link back to the old world as Dusty travels to meet with a group of wildfire rescue vehicles to train. Leading this group is Blade Ranger (voiced by Ed Harris), a rescue copter who has a strange past working in the television industry. That’s just one part of the oddities in the Fire & Rescue plot, but there were plenty more throughout.

The plot was a bit too loose with too much going on, giving the film a major lack of focus on the overall goal of the main character. There was a forced sense of humor, as fan-turned-coworker Lil’ Dipper (voiced by Julie Bowen) acts as a stalkeresque love interest for Dusty. Windlifter (voiced by Wes Studi), a heavy-lift copter, had an odd—yet borderline endearing—way of speaking, which would have worked better if given more time to develop the character. The other characters sprinkled throughout the film also weren’t given their proper time to shine, which is perhaps reason why the film didn’t feel focused enough. There was just too much happening, and a lot of characters that tried much too hard to add a sense of humor to the film, but didn’t have nearly enough time to engage.

The characters are unique enough for kids to enjoy, and their personalities do add a fun mix to Fire & Rescue, but the film’s predecessor does a much better job at allowing viewers to get to know those extra characters and personalities. Also done better in the original is the incorporation of a message or something that was driving the overall plot. Fire & Rescue lacked that strong significance. Instead, the subliminal focus on the joys of helping others seemed to fizzle out, much like the fires in the film.

Final grade? C