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:: Planes: Fire & Rescue

The original Planes film was a walking disaster for Disney. It seemed to almost be a cynical attempt by Disney to really stamp their authority after their Pixar take over, but sadly for them people saw straight through it. Using the world set-up in Cars to create a spin-off was one thing but pretty much copying the story from the original Cars film and just creating new characters for an air race was another thing. The film was met with scorn from both critics and Pixar fans alike… and for good reason.

Keeping that in mind there was a good reason for me to be feeling very sceptical when walking into the cinema to see Planes: Fire & Rescue a sequel that has appeared just on twelve months since the first failed take off in this franchise. But this time around I was pleasantly surprised. This time there seemed to be a purpose to the film, not only a way to entertain the kids but it seems like someone at Disney was hellbent on making a film that’s aim is to pay respect to firefighters… and it kind of works.

Back for the ride again is Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) who very early on learns that his racing days are over after a mechanical problem means that he is no longer capable of reaching high speeds any more. No matter how hard they try there is nothing that Skipper (Stacy Keach) or Dottie (Teri Hatcher) can do to help their friend. When Dusty makes a stupid mistake he leaves his local airport grounded due to the fact that their fire-fighting facilities are below par. Seeing his racing days are over Dusty decides that he will become the new fire-fighting plane so heads off to be trained by Blade Ranger (Ed Harris) but finds himself in the middle of one of busiest National Parks during fire season.

So what makes Planes: Fire & Rescue better than the original film? Well it seems like this time around something gelled with the script and unlike the first film this time we have the perfect amount of action, characterisation and humour (the kind that kids like), oh and yes having an original storyline this time around helps as well. It might just be me though but I still find the romance storyline between pieces of machinery a little bit creepy. Funnily enough Disney seem to put one of their B-team directors at the helm of Planes: Fire & Rescue. Roberts Gannaway has always been the man that Disney have turned to when they want a follow up to a successful film so his resume mainly consists of films like Timon & Pumbai (part of The Lion King franchise) and Stitch! The Movie (a follow up to Lilo & Stitch) but Gannaway bucked the trend when he worked on Tinker Bell: Secret Of The Wings which was praised worldwide and now it seems like he is the man who has given the Planes franchise a new set of wings.

Gannaway has deliberately set out to make this a film that has the aim of highlighting the bravery of firefighters, especially those who each summer parachute into forest fires in a bid to bring them under control. Like all Disney films topics such as good vs evil and greed is bad is explored but it is obvious that the point of this film is to show just how dangerous the work of a firefighter really can be. It probably helps that most young boys seem to think that fire engines and etc are pretty cool as well.

There are some adults out there who will love to find faults with this film. Maybe the humour isn’t exactly to their taste, or they don’t find the film suspenseful enough, but at the end of the day you have to remember that this is a film designed for kids. With the humour that the script provides this time around and some of the dramatic fire scenes it is obvious that this is a film that is going to be lapped up by its target audience.