Plot: What’s it about?
Dusty might just be a simple crop duster, but he has dreams that couldn’t be more ambitious. He wants to not only be a race plane, but he wants to enter and win the biggest race in the world. While his dreams seem a little unlikely in general, his chances aren’t helped by his fear of heights and lack of overall speed. After all, if he wants to be one of the best racers in the world, he will need a lot of speed and will have to soar into the clouds. But Dusty has a lot of courage too, as well as a group of the best friends a plane could want. So he enters the qualifiers for the Wings Around the World race and he turns in an amazing performance, but he falls one place short of qualifying. Just when his hopes drop, he learns that another plane was disqualified for high octane fuel, so Dusty earns himself a spot in the race. Now Dusty starts to train harder than ever before, as his friends pitch him to get up to snuff in time for the big competition. But even with the help of his friends, can Dusty not only finish this grueling race around the world, let alone defeat his heroes and win the whole thing?
While Planes is based on the Pixar created world of Cars, this movie wasn’t a Pixar production. The film was designed to be a direct-to-video release, but test audiences responded well and the decision was made to take Planes into theaters. But does the film feel like a big screen production and does any of the magic of the Cars world manage to rub off? The visuals are impressive, but Planes does wind up with the feel of a direct-to-video production. The main issue I had was the writing, which isn’t even close to the level we’ve come to expect from Disney, let alone Pixar’s work. The jokes are predictable and lowest common denominator, which shouldn’t be the case in a family oriented feature. You will groan more than you’ll laugh, though I do think younger viewers will appreciate the visuals and the silly antics of the characters. But overall, Planes proves once again that while a lot of folks create animation, no one does it like Pixar. In their hands, this might have been a snappy, fun ride, but we’re left with a rushed, cheap shot humor vehicle that hopes Cars fans will overlook the flaws. I wanted to love Planes, as I love animation and the Cars movies, but I found it to be mediocre at best. But I think Planes will find an audience, as younger viewers will find a lot to like and when not held to the Pixar standard, the film fares much better.
Video: How’s it look?
Planes is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. As you’d expect, the movie looks excellent. The animation isn’t quite up to Pixar’s level, but it looks terrific. This transfer provides a crisp, super detailed image that never disappoints. The level of subtle touches that are visible is incredible, as even the most minor details pop up to life. The colors are vivid and bold as well, always in the proper scope and contrast never wavers in the least. Planes simply looks superb in all aspects.
Audio: How’s it sound?
A DTS HD 7.1 soundtrack is provided and as you’d anticipate, the audio is dynamic. All the sounds of the flight world are brought to life in grand fashion, so the surrounds have a lot of work to handle here. There is almost constant presence, which really helps bring the movie’s world alive. The vocals sound great, so dialogue is always just right and the music has a bold, lively presence within the mix. Not much else to mention, just a high end soundtrack that delivers on all fronts. This release also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The extras here include some deleted scenes, the animated short Franz’s Song, a look at some aviation greats, and a couple of promotional featurettes.