Disney’s Planes review – Shifting to autopilot

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With some of the best animated films ever to grace the silver screen, Disney is a name that most of Earth’s populace knows very well. The Lion King brought us a story of a lion cub who eventually takes his rightful place on the throne after avenging his father’s death. All the while, the audience is entertained with its plot and likeable characters, such as Timon and Pumba. Even today you can hear children (and some adults) singing Hakuna Matata. I checked out a random three-minute clip from The Lion King just now–yep, it’s still plenty entertaining. Planes is the latest in the Disney line of silver screen successors. I’d ask you to buckle your seats, but that would imply that something interesting was going to happen.

Dusty Crophopper is a crop dusting plane whose sole purpose is to dust crops–pretty obvious, wasn’t it? He dreams of flying high, going fast, and racing against the best. It’s the typical story of a character who wants to do what they shouldn’t and supposedly can’t. Inevitably, Dusty gives in to his daydreams and gets involved in a race that takes him on a long journey around the world.

The problem with the movie is that it wants to move its plot as fast as Dusty wants to fly. In no time, you will see the generic plot fly past your eyes. The movie sets its flight path around the plot pylons, and it’s so focused on them that it forgets, too often, to excite the audience members who aren’t toddlers. Even the film’s biggest payoff–when Dusty overcomes his personal weakness–feels like it could have been executed better.

el chupacabra planes

At first, Planes looks like your typical children’s blockbuster movie that manages to appeal to adults through humor. After a few chuckles near the beginning, the movie grows stale. For a second, as he entered, I was put off by the trite El Chupacabra. He’s the suave hispanic casanova of the movie that seems to be gracing every, single, kid’s movie these days.

I quickly got off my high horse and enjoyed his entrance–this is the most entertaining scene in the movie, nerds, so enjoy those minutes while they last. He disdainfully swishes his cape at people he doesn’t like, and that’s something that I can get behind. However, outside of, perhaps, one more decent laugh with The Chupa, he joins the rest of the cast, filling his respective acting space until the credits roll. Similar to the plot, the jokes come at lightning speed, destroying the comedic timing for too many of the jokes. The ones that manage to be funny are few and far between.

It’s unfortunate that these superb production values were wasted on this movie. These are top notch computer graphics almost blowing your jaded minds. The characters are all expressive, and the animation is great. I don’t recall any problems with the voice actors, each of them bringing robust personality to their respective roles. The director did a good job with the material he had, too, so we can’t go blaming him. No, the problem is that good voice acting, directing, and world class production values can only take your movie so far. This script just wasn’t good enough for the big screen.

Planes doesn’t deserve to be seen for theater prices. The plot feels like it has too many places to go, and not enough quality time is spent on any one thing to make the audience care. Instead, it simply does the bare minimum of what is required at any one given moment, and then it moves onto its next obligation. Planes is not a terrible movie, it just fits neatly into the seat of mediocrity. If you value your time and money, spend them somewhere else.

Grade: C

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