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Title: Planes: Fire & Rescue

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :3stars:

HTS Overall Score:83

It seems like only last year when Disney released “Planes” to home video…….oh wait, it WAS less than a year ago! Usually sequels, especially sequels that are rushed out in less than a year after the first one, don’t exact fare very well. While “Planes” was heavily marketed, I barely saw any marketing during the summer release of “Planes: Fire & Rescue”, and was expecting a cheap sequel. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this little sequel has just as much heart and fun as its predecessor, and doesn’t get caught in the rut of sequelitis by pretty much rehashing the same tired plotline through the mud.

Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is living life to the fullest with a tank full of gas and a crowd full of adoring fans. Fate has different ideas for the plane, and in a twist of bad luck one of Dusty’s primary internal gear boxes gets damaged, leaving him with the choice of racing (and crashing in a ball of flaming wreckage), or take it a bit slower to minimize the risk, for this is no replaceable part. It seems that Dusty is so old that no one can find a replacement gear box, leaving Dusty on borrowed time. Devastated, our little racing machine ends up going on one last test run, to see if he really CAN push the limits. Unfortunately, not only does he find out that he can’t push those physical limits, but he ends up crashing into a support tower and causes a fire on the strip. The old fire truck on the track barely is able to contain the blaze in time, and under the ensuing investigation, the whole strip is to shut down, with the only way out if they can acquire another fireman.

Dusty realizes he can’t exactly race anymore, but he CAN save his home by going out and becoming trained as a Fire and Rescue plane to meet the minimum requirement. This is easier said than done, as Dusty gets a crash course in reality, as he has to start back at the proverbial bottom and work his way up once more. He has to fit in with a group of seasoned veterans who have many more years of experience than he has and Blade Ranger (Ed Harris), the troupe commander, has a very watchful eye on the newcomer. Doing his best, or what he thinks is his best, Dusty tries to work his way up the ladder, only falling short each time he does so. He’s so hung up on his past, on the reality that he may never be able to race again, that he loses site of what he’s doing in the here and now. When Blade Ranger gets injured saving Dusty’s hide during a botched fire run, Dusty has to man up and realize that you have to play the cards you’re dealt, and even though life may not turn out exactly as you planned, you have to learn how to adapt.


I actually ended up liking “Planes: Fire & Rescue” every bit as much as the first movie, because the powers that be decided to shift the focus a bit and make something new. Normally with sequels you get more of the same storyline, or just adapt it slightly, but here we have Dusty completely shift careers as his racing lifestyle that was so prevalent in the first movie gets swept out from underneath him. Now he’s doing Fire and Rescue work, and having to cope with the reality that he may never race again. I really like the twist here, as life is NOT all hope and dreams, and things can get turned on their head sometimes, but it doesn’t mean that your life is over. Lasseter and crew broach this topic in a way that kids can understand and still portray the end result as something to be tackled head on and that you choose to be happy, and you’re NOT dependent on your circumstances or limitations.

Except for a few minutes at the beginning and end there is very little screen time with the old crew, as Dusty is swept away to the national forest, where he meets all new friends. This includes Blade Ranger, a tough veteran with sad and depressing past. Lil’ Dipper (Julie Bowen), who is a bit coo-coo for cocoa puffs, Windlifter (Wes Studi), the rough and tough heavy lifter of the team, and Maru (Curtis Armstrong), the feisty little mechanic of the crew. Each has their own personalities and they all vary quite a bit from the folks back home, so the movie stays fresh and enjoyable. Like “Planes” before it, this is not top tier Disney, but the results are still impressive and rather entertaining for people of all ages.


Rated PG for action and some peril

Video :4.5stars:
Disney is almost always top notch for their day and date releases, giving the final result an incredibly pleasing look. Colors literally pop off the screen and are about as rich and vibrant as you could possible ask for. Instead of a cornucopia of different colored racing planes, we’re put in the middle of a remote wilderness where tons of greens, browns and burnished orange dominate the color spectrum. We still have the differently colored vehicles, but they mainly stick to red, yellow and green for the majority of the time. Contrast looks good and the fine detail is through the roof. I’m always amazed how good the digital animation is in this series as you can see the shadows and reflections play along the edge of the animated vehicles, giving them an aura of authenticity. Blacks are deep and inky, giving us plenty of shadow detail and I looked HARD to find any compression artifacts with almost none to be found. I only say almost because I saw a few short instances of color banding in the night sky, but those were so brief that I actually had to rewind and do a frame by frame jump forward to make sure I was actually seeing it.

Audio :4.5stars:
I sound like a broken record here, I really do. We have another amazing 7.1 DTS-HD MA track to enjoy and it’s nothing short of spectacular. The soundstage is incredibly diverse and detailed, allowing you to be immersed in the rush and center of battling a forest fire in the outskirts of civilization. The surrounds are heavily active and full of life, well, that and the crackling of a blaze, the wind whipping around the listener and the little snap crackle and pop of the bursting wood from the heat. Dusty roaring to the rescue at high speed is intense and filled with some deep moments of heavy LFE, and the pressure from the displaced wind makes you feel as if a plane literally flattened you as it went by. I was amazed at some of the fine detail panning that went on, as there is one scene in particular around a camp fire where the camera is panning across the screen and the dialogue shifts and pans with the camera as the turn is completed. Speaking about dialog, it certainly has no complaints from me and blends seamlessly with the rest of the track. I loved the tight, articulate bass track and the only thing that I can possibly think of negatively is that I wish that it had been a bit more aggressive at times. Still, this is a top notch sound track and it is just THIS shy of being perfect.

Extras :3stars:

• Exclusive Animated Short - “Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular”
• Welcome to Piston Peak!
• "CHoPs” TV Promo
• Air Attack: Firefighters From The Sky
• Spencer Lee Music Video "Still I Fly"
• Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions
• Animated Shorts

Overall: :4stars:

John Lasseter sure has a thing for talking automobiles, as he continues in the same vein as “Cars” and “Cars 2” with his “Planes” spinoffs. They aren’t as classic or revolutionary as some of the other recent Disney titles, but they are certainly head and shoulders above some of the early 2000 entries in the Mouse House catalog. Dane Cook is surprisingly good as Dusty, keeping himself heavily reigned in compared to his normal off the wall antics and kids will love the brightly colored vehicles of all shapes and sizes. The fun doesn’t stop there as even adults can relate to the issues of having life throw a monkey wrench into their plans and will certainly love the amazing audio and video quality to display on the home theaters. We’ve even got a wider set of extras than the first one had which makes this a definite watch if you’re even remotely a Disney fan.

Additional Information:

Starring: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen
Directed By: Roberts Gannaway
Written By: Jeffrey M. Howard
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Rated: PG
Runtime: 83 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 4th 2014

Buy Planes: Fire & Rescue Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Watch it

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