Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cooke) has defied all odds, transforming himself from a small town crop duster to a global aerial racing champion. Planes: Fire & Rescue is the next exciting chapter to his story, following his training with the unsung heroes of Piston Peak’s fire and rescue unit.
After a routine practice session with his mentor Skipper (voiced by Stacy Keach), Dusty’s engine stalls in mid-air, causing him to crash land.On closer inspection aircraft mechanic Dottie (voiced by Teri Hatcher) relays bad news about Dusty’s gearbox which threatens to end his racing career. During a frustrated outburst, he accidently starts a fire which causes enough damage to shut down the town airport, right before the town’s major tourist event. Dusty offers to make amends by joining the town’s fire team and travels to Piston Valley National Park to find veteran firefighter Blade Ranger (voiced by Ed Harris), who’s agreed to train up and certify him.
Being a firefighter is a serious business and this film does not fail to remind its audiences of that. The light-heartedness of the original release is lacking in its predecessor, relying more on the action packed sequences and grand natural backdrops rather than comedic charm. However, there are a couple of funny moments in amongst the life threatening drama, with most hilarious one liners delivered by Lil’ Dipper (voiced by Julie Bowen), a firefighting air tanker who’s taken a stalker like shine to Dusty.
Disney’s animators have done a great job of delivering breath taking scenery that encompasses all the natural splendour of America’s untamed forest and national parklands, including the insatiable wrath of a landscape ablaze. True insight is given to how a fire and rescue unit operates and it’s an eye opening experience watching characters in tactical mode, especially the exhilarating deployment of ground vehicles from the air to clear obstructions.
In terms of the plot and characters, there are genuine heartfelt moments, with comments on second chances, courage and selflessness. Whilst the film delivers a well-rounded and satisfactory experience, it tends to come off lacklustre and not very memorable.
All in all though Planes: Fire & Rescue is a nice family romp, with a bunch of characters that younger audiences have grown to love from previous Cars and Planes releases, and will not doubt enjoy seeing in action again.
Review Score: TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running Time: 83 minutes
Disney’s Planes – Fire & Rescue is released for School Holidays in most states this Thursday, September 18th. Remaining states will see it released on September 25th. Check your local cinema listings for more details.