Monday, 27 October 2014

Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014)

Well here we are with the sequel to a poor movie that was a spin off of another half assed kids movie, yet bizarrely this movie is actually pretty good! The first adventure in the skies was basically a very dull very poor 'Cars' spin off that didn't do anything we hadn't already seen in the 'Cars' movie. It was quite awful with seriously lackluster characters truth be told.

Yet despite this something has happened here which has turned the franchise upside down...almost. Yes its all the same dubiously cliched and stereotypcial characters and yes the plot isn't exactly the greatest piece of original writing ever to touch down...but its actually fun! Put simply, Dusty the Air Tractor has ruined his internal bits n pieces with too much hardcore racing. Whilst being the arrogant cocky little sod that he is he crashes and causes a fire which in turn alerts some fire safety inspector truck dude to close the airport due to lack of a decent firefighting crew. In order to restore the airport to its former glory Dusty goes off to Piston Peak National Park (GREAT NAME! and presumably in the Wyoming/Colorado area of this universe) to learn to be a firefighter plane.

From there on its the predictable overused age old scenario where at first Dusty finds it hard mixing in with the fire crew. He slowly gets to know the team, discovers one female plane fancies him but the chief Ranger chopper thinks he's no good for the team, he won't make the grade. After numerous training sequences, whinny sulky moments, some heart-to-hearts and one to ones...a major fire breaks out which means its time to get down to the business of saving the day hero style. Essentially its the underdog schtick all over again with a highly obvious outcome all round for every character...the little plane that could.

I think the main difference from the first movie is the fact the visuals here look really really nice. Don't get me wrong its nothing that's gonna blow you away in a shower of epic CGI just looks very good and way way better than before. The first movie looked like an obvious made for TV flick and very basic. This time its been upgraded with a fresh coat of Turtlewax and its gleaming in every frame, background foreground and all the vehicle characters.

There is a wide selection of characters in here also but surprisingly that doesn't compromise the story. Actually many of the new characters are highly likable and really add a much needed to boost that was lacking before. Ed Harris as the Fire Ranger chopper is as you would expect...stern serious and without a sense of humour, but he's still a likable fella because he fair and righteous (not in an all American way though), and he looks good as a fire engine red chopper. Wes Studi voices a character that seems to be of Native American descent...I'm guessing by the way he speaks as I don't think its mentioned. This might seem incredibly cliched by now...which it is...but again he's a great character. His large green Skycrane design does eerily suit this Indian notion to a tee with its long curved blades that kinda look like long drapes of black hair and of course the helicopter wrap or colour scheme design seems to replicate typical Native American warpaint/face paint (around the eyes).

Gotta give kudos to the cool little team of smokejumpers that are made up of small JCB construction/excavator vehicles. Not only do these guys look quite cute nippy and cool, they are also quite amusing and not in any way annoying! I half expected them to leap into action by combining together to form a large Transformer-esque Constructicon (nerd smirk). There is a large voice cast in this movie, many small and large characters but at no point does it ever feel swamped, its handled well.

Despite the plodding exhausted plot premise at least they have tried to expand the story without retracing their steps. Yeah sure we've seen this kinda of thing before but the fact they make the old characters push forward into new territory creating a fresh angle for themselves (firefighting), and not going back to the old original plot premise of crop dusting/racing (which is hinted at but swept aside), is a big positive. I was sure at one point that Dusty would probably go back to his racing ways (predictably)...but no! he doesn't, he moves on and this in turn generates a nice new chapter for the franchise.

In that I wouldn't mind seeing another entry here. The blend of various vehicles is fun to watch if totally ridiculous at times, why would they need certain buildings like restaurants ? why would they have drinks in glasses at a function? wouldn't every building be humongous to house certain vehicles like large planes etc...Try not to get too technical with this incredibly insane premise as it is after all completely a kids flick and in no way meant to be taken any other way. Miles better than the first movie, leagues ahead with quality and some nice little visual gags for us older folk...Boat Reynolds! 'CHoPs' instead of 'CHiPs' (old 70s/80s TV show, in this universe its based around choppers/helicopters) and 'Howard the Truck'.