Disney’s heartwarming family comedy, “PLANES,” revved up with high-flying action and adventure, lands in homes and mass retailers nationwide on November 19th. This endearing underdog story about a crop dusting plane named Dusty with sky-high dreams touches down on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and On-Demand featuring a cargo hold full of exciting bonus features. After spreading its wings in theaters, “PLANES” soars to glorious new heights on Blu-ray, featuring wondrous high definition picture and sound and never-before-seen bonus features, including musical number “Franz’s Song,” deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette that follows Director Klay Hall’s personal journey during the making of the film, a look at the ten greatest aviators in history hosted by ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, and more.
Planes is set in the anthromorphic world of Pixar’s other vehicle based franchise, Cars, although in this case the movie wasn’t made by that studio. Instead, the film was made by the DisneyToon studio even though the film was co-written by Pixar’s chief creative officer John Lasseter who was also the writer/director of Cars. Much like Cars, the film takes place in a world without humans where cars and now planes make up the indigenous lifeforms of the planet. Everything else is looks the same and as revealed by this film, they’ve even had their own version of World War II where planes and vehicles fought each other which really raises a lot of questions that aren’t answered by this film.
Instead we get a familiar story about a young plane named Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) who dreams of being a racing plane instead of being a cropduster. His dreams are supported by his best friend a fuel truck, Chug (Brad Garrett) and his other friend Dotty (Teri Hatcher) who is also his mechanic. Not everyone thinks Dusty is being realistic including his boss Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer) and even the local war hero Skipper (Stacy Keach) refuses to help train him to qualify for the Wings Across the World race. Dusty competes anyway and manages to come in sixth place, which is a lot better than most though he would do, but not good enough to qualify for the race. When it’s discovered that the plane who came in fifth place cheated and thereby disqualified, Dusty is moved up and allowed to participate in the race.
Skipper changes his mind and decides to mentor Dusty for the race. Skipper and his forklift assistant Sparky (Danny Mann) work on improving Dusty’s speed and agility as well as trying to help him overcome his fear of heights. They keep training until the race is about to begin and Dusty flies to John F. Kennedy airport (was there a plane version of JFK?) to meet up with the other racers. There, he meets the girl of his dreams an Indian racer named Ishani (Priyanka Chopra), his soon to be bitter rival and current champion, Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith), a British racer named Bulldog (John Cleese), a French-Canadian racer named Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and the Mexican racer El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui) who loves her.
Over the course of the race, Dusty will fly across the world starting from New York with stops along Iceland, Germany, India, Shanghai, and Mexico before finishing back in New York. Along the way, Dusty is betrayed by some and helped by others and soon discovers who his true friends are and his own self-worth. Dusty isn’t the only one to have a epiphany as many of his friends and fellow racers also learn something about themselves and overcome their own personal obstacles. Skipper has old war memories that have engendered guilt for him, El Chupacabra has to show a softer side of himself to win over Rochelle, and Ishani needs to decide just how far she will go to win the race.
Planes isn’t original by any means as it’s a mashup of many different movies that we’ve seen before including some of Disney’s own, especially Cars and Cars 2. Planes seems to have cherry-picked from each of them different elements to make up its story – the rookie and mentor relationship from Cars and the race around the world concept from Cars 2. Despite its formulaic plotline, the movie is still enjoyable especially if you really like planes. While a lot of the anthromorphic world doesn’t make any sense and isn’t consistent such as there being a JFK airport but an aircraft carrier called the Flysenhower (instead of the Eisenhower), the film still works hard at portraying planes in a realistic manner consistent with their real life counterpart. I thought it was an okay film but my almost six year old son (who is most likely the target audience) loved it and declared that it was better than the Cars movies. The movie offers a good message to kids to try their best to follow their dreams as anything is possible, but I wish the movie itself was better.
Both of Disney’s 1080p (1.78:1) presentations are very good with both the 2D and 3D versions are bursting with color and an abundance of detail. Both versions look great on Blu-ray as both have vibrant color, solid and inky black levels, and excellent contrast. Between the two versions, I preferred the 3D one as it adds quite a bit to the viewing experience. There’s some excellent depth on display and that extra dimensionality makes the races thrilling especially when objects start to come out of the television. There’s no ghosting issues either to complain about and no problem with brightness for the 3D version either. These may not be the best presentations that Disney has done, but they are both very good and make a fine addition to the Blu-ray.
Possibly even better than the video quality, is Planes’ DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that sounds fantastic. Dialogue is clear as a bell and never drowned out by Mark Mancina’s score or the various sound effects. The LFE channel delivers on every engine roar, plane flyby, and roar of thunder. The rear channels deliver some excellent surround effects and a lot of ambiance as well. The directional effects are accurate and the cross channel activity is spot on. This is an excellent mix that is just as good as the film’s video quality.
There’s not a lot of extras included on this set which is a little surprising since this is the film’s deluxe set. All of the extras are in high definition.
- Exclusive Musical Scene: Franz’s Song – Director Klay Hall and producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn introduce the deleted scene that show the car/plane hybrid Franz’s musical number in Germany. This scene has been completely finished unlike a lot of deleted scenes.
- Klay’s Flight Plan – Director Klay Hall talks about how important the film is to him and how it all came about when John Lasseter suggested that he make a movie about planes instead of trains. We also see Hall and his two sons view a bunch of classic planes and they even get to ride in some.
- Deleted Scenes – There are two unfinished deleted scenes that are presented by Hall and Balthazor-Flynn. They include a training montage and a Taj Mahal scene.
- Meet the Racers – A seven minute rundown on the racers including: El Chupacabra, Ripslinger, Dusty, and Ishani.
- Top 10 Fliers – A short look at some actual pilots from our history presented in a top ten list.
- 2D Blu-ray copy of the film
- DVD copy of the film
- Digital copy of the film
If you liked the Cars movies then you will most likely enjoy Planes too. The movie is enjoyable to watch even though it’s very formulaic as we’ve seen this story told many times before. The Blu-ray offers some excellent video and audio quality although the extras could have been more extensive. Young children and fans of planes will find much to like in this movie.
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