Saturday, January 25, 2014


Set in the Cars expanded universe and originally planed as a straight-to-DVD release, Planes is admittedly a mixed bag. Produced and co-written by John Lasseter, the film is visually stunning with a nice message for kids and some enjoyable racing sequences. Sadly, the film's script about a crop duster (Dane Cook) with a fear of heights competing in a worldwide race, isn't exactly inspired. Mostly, it feels like Cars-light.

Lacking the heart of Cars, one of my favorite Pixar films, Planes has issues with tone, a large assortment of mostly forgettable supporting characters (voiced by Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Priyanka Chopra, and John Cleese among others), and a by-the-numbers script that holds no surprises. That means the film has to fall back on only its charm and beautiful design to get it through the various peaks and valleys our hero navigates over the 91-minute running time.

Not produced by Pixar, Planes has the feel of many of Disney's direct-to-DVD sequels that lack the magic of the original films that inspired them. The movie does have director Klay Hall, whose love of aviation and planes of all shapes and sizes does come across on film. Planes isn't a bad film by any stretch, but it putters around far more than it soars. Don't get me wrong, there's more than a little turbulence and a few rough take-offs and harsh landings to suffer through (including a bizarre B-story involving a war veteran that is, at best, distracting), but the love for the subject matter and the sweat that went into the look of the film are obvious in nearly every frame.

Released on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD extras for the film include a digital copy, short one-minute intros for the racers, a deleted musical number, deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film and Hall's love of aviation, and a short educational Top 10 introducing younger audiences to the most important aviators of all-time.

[Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, 3D Blu-ray $49.99 / Blu-ray $44.99 / DVD $29.99]

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