Sit back, head up, prepare for takeoff! Movie Review: 'Planes'

planesr3Speed is a natural wonder to all of us as humans. When it comes to finding that thrill we look to what is available to us here on the ground, cars. In 2006 Pixar gave us a great story of looking at them a little differently in the film “Cars” and also hinted that there is more to the world we were shown up in the air. To give us a taste of speed in an even faster form, Disney brings us what is happening up in the wild blue yonder in “Planes”.

Let me tell you a little about Dusty. He’s, well, different. You see Dusty is a crop-duster who wants to be more than what he is. His dream is to be a racer in a famous world aerial race. As a plane you wouldn’t think he would have any problems would you, but he does, he’s afraid of heights. With the help of an old warplane and his friends, Dusty will take to the sky and live his dream against some of the best planes in the world. Can he overcome his fear? Will he learn there’s more to life than what you do? Will old secrets get in the way? Will good triumph over the devious? Sky’s the limit in this ‘tail’.

The creative minds at Disney have been busy to bring this film to the big screen. With all the success of ‘Cars’ and its sequel, John Lasseter turned to an avid airplane enthusiast to captain this tale, Klay Hall (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure). Having a rich history with aviation, both dad and grandfather being pilots, Hall had all the gumption to not only bring this story to fruition but to make it soar. The two needed a co-pilot to write this story and Jeffery M. Howard (Tinker Bell) was brought onboard during the story development and subsequent screenplay.

planesr4After arduous research of planes in general from shape and size to how they perform Hall and Howard have continued what Lasseter started in the World of Cars and truly made a wonderful addition to the Disney family of animated films. Seeing as how this started as a direct to video feature, these two have piloted this film way beyond many expectations. With all said and done, a great voice cast with the tremendous artistic know how of DisneyToon Studios and its artisans, deserve a great deal of appreciation.

From the start of the film you would have no idea this was not done by Pixar but the small DisneyToon Studios in Southern California with help from the overseas departments. Visually stunning from the aerial views to chase plane cinematic to bringing the world as we know it into this vision is stunning and impressive in so many ways. Even taking a step back and using techniques of cinematography that is reminiscent of classic aviation films like ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Firefox’ sets the mood for the movie from takeoff.

Now giving these planes the right attitude, Hall has brought a squadron of talent from all over the world to bring more depth to the story being told. Dane Cook (Dan in Real Life, My Best Friend’s Girl) is the unlikely hero Dusty Crophopper. Stacy Keach (The New Mike Hammer) lends his voice to the old war vet turned instructor, Skipper. Teri Hatcher (Desperate Houswives, Lois and Clark) and Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond, Tangled) play Dusty’s friends and pit crew, Dottie and Chug. Adding the international flair to the racers are John Cleese (Monty Python) as Bulldog, Priyanka Chopra as Ishani and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, A Bug’s Life) as Rochelle. Okay Julia is from the US but is playing a Canadian in this film.

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What would a Disney film be without a little comic relief and a villain. From Cedric the Entertainer as Leadbottom or Sinbad with his quick sniped Roper all is comedy comes around to the voice himself, Carlos Alazraqui (Reno 911) as El Chupacabra. Then the sinister step out, in a still comedic way with Gabriel Iglesias as hence planes Ned and Zed to the sinister, full of himself in so many ways, Ripslinger, portrayed by another very versatile voice actor Roger Craig Smith (Wreck-It Ralph, marvel’s Avengers Assemble – Read our Exclusive Interview with Roger). Don’t be surprised if you hear a few more familiar voices flying around.

‘Planes’ truly fits right in with the likes of Pixar’s ‘Cars’ or any of the classic films done by Walt Disney Productions. What makes it stand out is the fact that it was, one may term, a throw away film destined for DVD heaven and, like it’s star, was able to overcome what it was meant for and become a star in its own right. ‘Planes’ will delight the staunchest of critiques as a film that reminds us we can always learn something while being entertained.

It goes without saying that I truly loved this film. As Hall was as a kid and adult, in love with aviation, so have I been. I remember the times my mom would drive my friends and me to Moffett Naval Air Station to watch the air show featuring the Blue Angels. Or the times I would stay up for hours on end building the most recent model plane I just received. It was a passion that never truly leaves you, wanting to fly. I may not have made my dream of being a pilot but I did spend a long time working in the airline industry. It was one way that I could overcome what I couldn’t do, yet still be involved. Much like Dusty, I have never let others dictate what makes me happy or what I want to do. It is how we all should live. Live our dreams and lives the way we want to do without others telling us no or laughing at us like we’re crazy. Because in the end as long as you are happy doing what you are doing, living your dream, the world will be a much better place.

Follow my entertainment adventures throughout Southern California on Twitter @SCThrillsMarc.

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