Out of all the animated features this year, Planes probably have the most controversial behind-the-scenes background to it before it was even released to theaters. This film was actually geared towards a Direct-to-DVD release and it ended up getting picked up by the Disney Company to forcefully release this in the theaters. From the quality of the overall film it does show that it is for that kind of release or maybe even a commercial for the toys.
In above the world of Pixar’s “Cars”: “Planes” explores the life of a big-hearted crop duster named, Dusty Crophopper who has always dream of being part of a global air race. That dream comes true when he was able to compete in the qualifiers for the big race. Though the odds are not in his favor when he revealed that he is actually afraid of heights but with the help of a retired Navy Corsair, Skipper he will help him prepare for the most dangerous race of his life as he competes with aggressive competitors and dangers throughout the race.
This movie is nothing special to begin with, the formula for this movie is something we have seen a bunch of times. In fact this is pretty much like this year’s “Turbo” or more so a blatantly re-written version of 2006’s Cars but less of the heart and wit of both films, both films seem to know what it is doing; the story is rather metaphorically constructed and the drama is genuine along with the comedy. This on the other hand is the exact opposite of the things both of those films have done correctly.
The story is the weakest part of the film: The film follows the typical sports underdog story (I shit you not, the film even mentioned that this movie is “Like Rocky” at some point), it doesn’t have enough heart or depth to shadow all of the clichés the film is carrying in order to bring something (somewhat) fresh or new to the audience. The film tries to put something new but those elements are pretty much the reason why this film is mediocre. There were added elements like the fact that the main character couldn’t reach his dream is because of his fear of heights. That element felt shoe-horned in the film for no particular reason. Though one element of the film where the main character has this mentor relationship with a Doc Hudson-ish character was pretty much the most interesting part of the film.
Racing plays a huge part to the world of cars and also above it (Unfortunately). I would’ve asked for more of the story than it is a racing film because if there is “so much to explore” in this world I would like to see it with a different story other than racing. That being said the race is very uninteresting, due to the lack of depth and heart there wasn’t really any suspense or drama throughout the race, The race is just one direct line that rarely has substance.
The comedic element of the film is also weak; if you got TIRED of the car puns in the Cars movies, then puns about planes will annoy you as well. The jokes in this film couldn’t really find it’s rhythm for it doesn’t have a beginning and end, the best example for it was that there were a couple of cars that would talk gibberish for a solid minute in one scene and I just sat there asking myself "Is this suppose to be funny?". What’s even worse is that the jokes in the film are satirized by commercialized (you’re gonna see a lot of commercial products here and there through Plane puns) and stereotypical jokes as well. This being a kids movie, I’m surprised that they rely a lot on the reference a couple of 80s movies like Top Gun (2 of the actors were actually in this movie) and Rocky; those references are pretty much years ahead of the age of the film's age democratic.
The animation could possibly be the saving grace of this film, the animation is very nice to look at though there were a few shots where the background would look like a cardboard cut-out, also the characters aren’t also refreshing to look at; at some point you could’ve sworn that every plane look alike (I know it is rather Planecist of me, but it’s true). Though there were a couple of shots in this film of the Planes flying were captured very well. I’m not going into detail with the vocal performances though they are rather decent.
The overall quality of this film is a definite equivalent to a Direct-To-DVD film and at the same time a commercial for toys that will sell more than the movie itself is an example of a film going "by the numbers", there was barely any heart or depth to make this movie be interesting for the entire hour, the comedic element and the animation of the film rarely stalls the audience to forget the fact that this film is terribly cheap nor did the film’s colorful cast of characters and the world itself as well. It's a gamble to have kids enjoy this film, I was actually in a screening where the kids are dead silent while the father behind me was trying his best to make it atleast interesting for the kids to "enjoy". This is probably a better movie if you experience it as a home (for free) experience than it is a theater experience.
+A FEW GOOD SCENES OF ANIMATION
+THE LATTER HALF OF THE FILM
-TERRIBLE COMEDIC ELEMENT
2/5 - MEH!