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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Planes

November 17th, 2013

Planes - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 3D Combo Pack

Planes started out as a direct-to-DVD sequel, but sometime during production, someone decided the script was good enough to be made into a theatrical release. This isn't the first time this has happened. Return to Neverland took the same route. That film wasn't loved by critics, but it did well for its production budget. Planes was huge at the box office, pulling in more than $200 million worldwide, which is much more than a lot of people thought it would pull in. Did it do so well because it was also better than expected? Or did it thrive because it was the last animated film of the summer, so it had no competition?

The Movie

The film begins with Dusty Crophopper daydreaming about beating two jet fighters in a race. As you could probably tell by his name, Dusty is a cropduster. However, he's not happy with his life. He thinks he's built for more than dusting crops. He wants to win the Wings Around the Globe Rally. Leadbottom, a fellow cropduster, thinks he's nuts for wanting to give up the sweet life they have now. On the other hand, Chug, a fuel truck, helps him with training after work, even if it causes him some injuries. Fortunately, Dottie, the mechanic, is able to fix what's wrong with him. Chug think Dusty will need some help and he thinks he knows who to ask. Skipper is a retired navy war plane who lives in Propwash Junction. Dusty asks for help, but Skipper blows him off.

Dusty is amped up, because the final qualifying meet is happening soon and right nearby, so he's going to see if he can prove his stuff. The other planes laugh at him, but that just gives him more determination. Unfortunately, it's not enough, as he comes in sixth place. Shortly after the race, Roper arrives in Propwash Junction to inform Dusty that one of the competitors was using performing enhancing fuels, so he was disqualified and Dusty is in the race. Skipper comes to him and offers to help him train. There is a problem with training. In order to get the best speeds, you have travel high in the jetstream to catch a tailwinds. However, Dusty is scared of heights. A plane that is scared of heights. It's not a twist that is really surprising. Skipper is willing to work within this limitation and the training continues.

After some more training, Dusty travels to New York City, which is the site of the first leg of the competition. We meet a few more of his competitors, including Bulldog, Ishani, El Chupacabra, Rochelle, and of course the favorite, Ripslinger. Soon the race will begin and we will see if Rusty has what it takes.

As I've said in the past, the best kids movies are ones that were made for adults but that kids will enjoy as well. The opening prologue to Up is not something that was made to entertain kids, it was made to make adults cry. However, that movie had enough adventure and humor that kids will be entertained. Planes, on the other hand, it clearly a movie aimed strictly at kids. It has a very unchallenging story that plays out without any originality or passion. None of the characters, including the lead, are well-developed enough or have enough charisma to carry a movie. The earliest trailer for the movie had Jon Cryer in the lead and at least he gave Dusty more character than Dane Cook was able to.

There are some elements that work. Some of a flying scenes are exciting and there are a few funny moments and some clever cameos. (Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards play a pair of Navy fighter jets, mimicking their roles in Top Gun.) It's not terrible, but it feels like it was made to make money, rather than because someone had an interesting story to tell. It should entertain younger kids, but even Tweens will likely grow bored before the end.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD start with Klay's Fight Plan. which explains Klay Hall's love of Airplanes and how he came to work on this movie. There are 8 minutes of deleted scenes. The four main racers have minute-long intros. And finally there's Top Ten Flyers, which is a six-minute look at some pioneers in flying. The Blu-ray also has Franz's Song, which was cut from the film, but is here in its final animated form.

While the movie doesn't look as good as the top-notch digitally animated films, the transfer is still excellent. The level of details is strong while the colors are very vivid. There are no issues with digital artifacts or compression issues. Likewise, the audio is excellent with lots of activity in the surround sound speakers, including plenty of dynamic effects.

I don't have the 3D release to compare, so I don't know if the 3D effects were well done. There were quite a few flying scenes that probably looked good in 3D.

The DVD cost $18, while the Blu-ray Combo Pack cost 28% or $5 more. The 3D Combo Pack costs an additional $5, or 22% more than the Blu-ray Combo Pack.

The Verdict

If you have younger kids, then Planes will keep them entertained. However, this movie won't entertain teens or older, and it certainly isn't strong enough to entertain adults without kids. The DVD doesn't have a lot of extras, so it is worth just a rental. The Blu-ray Combo Pack only has one exclusive extra, but its a good deal, while it only costs 22% more to upgrade to 3D Combo Pack.

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Filed under: Video Review, Disney Planes, Carlos Alazraqui, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Dane Cook, Jon Cryer, Anthony Edwards, Cedric the Entertainer, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Stacy Keach, Val Kilmer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sinbad, Klay Hall, Roger Craig Smith