HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:84.5
With Disney and Pixar blurring the lines between their movies, it’s nearly impossible to tell where Disney ends and Pixar begins. They used to be very different in terms of animation and storytelling, but films such as “Wreck-It Ralph” have defied that cliché and now the two studios are nearly indistinguishable unless you look at the logos on the box. If you notice that “Planes” is very similar to “Cars” you would be right. John Lasseter helmed the “Cars” franchise and now “Planes” is his next outing in the same universe as “Cars” (albeit now under the Disney name instead of Pixar). The film tends to stay right at the same level as the “Cars” series as well, with some decent storytelling and great visuals, but still just a hair below the true greats such as “Wreck-It Ralph” or “The Incredibles”.
Dusty (Dane Cook) is a crop duster who dreams of making it big as a racer. As you can imagine, most of the other vehicles around him think that he’s crazy for even trying. The thing is, that when you have a longing in your heart, a dream in your mind, it’s insanely difficult for you to let and it go, and Dusty has no desire whatsoever to let that dream go. With the help of his buddy Chug (Brad Garrett) and his mechanic fried Dottie (Teri Hatcher) he’s determined to make it to the big leagues. The only problem is that he can barely make the qualifying time for the big transcontinental race coming up. That’s when he has to gain the help of an ex-navy fighter plane named “Skipper” (Stacy Keach) to train him to be the best that he can be.
At the race Dusty realizes that he may have bit off more than he bargained for. There’s planes from every nation and every creed and each of them is a trained racer, and here he is a rusty old crop duster. The one nice thing about being a country boy, instead of a trained racer, is that Dusty hasn’t lost his sense of decency and kindness to the glitz and glamour of winning. With his kind heart and do good attitude he gains some new friends in the form of Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) a sleek aerodynamic racer from India and El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), an over the top Mexican wrestling cloaked plain from Mexico. Through this race Dusty has to learn how to be tough, overcome his fears and dig deep to find that urge to win.
I liked “Planes”, it wasn’t up to some of the great Disney standards, but it’s nothing offensively bad, and will be gold for the kids, with its bright glitzy colors, oil jokes and references that kids would die laughing over. I really enjoyed “Cars” as well, but felt that this one was a very slight step down for the franchise, with some rather strained jokes for adults and the cookie cutter plot. I think what happened here was that Disney borrowed a bit too much from other movies, the classic “underdog” story that has been told time and time again, with the EXACT same beats. Underdog barely makes it, must find the courage to overcome his obstacles and always wins in the end. It reminded me a bit of “Turbo” which had some of the very same themes, but also seemed to have a bit more effort thrown into the writing.
Now don’t get me wrong. The film is cute, the racing scenes are phenomenal and the picture and audio are demo worthy. Dane Cook is usually one of the most annoying actors (if you can call him that) on the face of the earth, but somehow he kept himself calm enough in this film to where I found his portrayal of Dusty completely believable. He had just enough goofiness in the character to make him likeable, yet grounded enough to make you forget that it was actually Dane Cook at the helm.
Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13775[/img]Disney has done some iffy work on their “restorations” of some of their classic animated films, but there’s one thing for certain, they go all out on their day and date releases. “Planes” is pretty much one teensy hair short of absolute perfection, with a glorious 1.78:1 AVC transfer for the Blu-ray. Animated purely digitally it is resplendent with rich primary colors, and shines bright and shiny as a newly polished piece of machinery. Reds, blues and greens saturate the film and give us every color in between to marvel at. The Orange of Dusty’s shell is so detailed that you can see it switch shades as he moves along the track and I counted at least 5 different shades of green on Ripslinger’s bodywork. Dark scenes are spot on perfect without any black crush or lack of shadow detail. And while we’re on the subject of detail the film is exquisitely detailed from beginning to end. It’s modeled after the same style of art as “Cars” so you can get an idea of how the animation style is done. The ONLY ONLY nitpicking I have with the film is that I noticed some banding along the bodywork of the planes themselves during a few scenes. Nothing wild, but IT WAS noticeable enough for me to take it down a notch to a 4.5/5 rating.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13776[/img]Now, even better than the video track is the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track that Disney has produced. Extremely detailed and accurate, it can be soft as a kitten or rumble the floor beneath us to monstrous effect. The dialogue is centered right in the front and carries an excellent dynamic range with it. Muttering under the breath makes one strain to listen, but the thrum of a plane’s engine roars to life, taking the drywall with it. Surround usage is superb, with the planes battling it out overhead for first place. The sounds of planes streaking by at top speed rush up from behind you and shoot straight over your shoulder and the creak and ambient sounds of wheels rolling over pavement is pin point accurate. The LFE is another one that I am delighted to say is more of a tight punchy style of bass, rather than the thunderous bass heavy tracks that emanated a sonic wave every time a pin drops. Keeping a nice low end to the movie it permeates the entire track, unobtrusively at that, but when the time calls for it there’s a thunderclap of LFE that knocks you back onto your seat. Easily a perfect 5/5 for me. Bravo Disney, Bravo.
• Exclusive! Franz's Song
• Deleted Scenes
• Top Ten Flyers - Count Down the World's Most Famous Aviators with Host Colin Cowherd
• Meet the Racers
• Klay's Flight Plan
“Planes” is about on par with “Cars” and “Cars 2” for being one of the weaker Disney/Pixar releases, and all 3 were John Lasseter’s babies, which explains the nearly identical animation style and storytelling. It’s not going to be hailed as a Disney classic anytime soon, but it is still a cute story and the kids will eat it up by the mouthful, while the parents will at least have a good time (not something most of the weaker animated studios can claim). With its near perfect audio and video I would recommend it be checked out by us adults who are kids at hearts, or for you family folks, it’s a definite buy.
Starring: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher
Directed by: Klay Hall
Written by: Jeffrey M. Howard, John Lasseter
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French DTS-HD HR 7.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Blu-Ray Release Date: Nov 19th, 2013
Buy Planes Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Check It Out
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