Cars, then came Cars 2... and now we have Planes.
In some ways it's the logical progression... especially after a plane character showed up in the second Cars movie. Given that, I kind of assume that if there's another spin off, it will probably be "Ships" (or possibly "Boats").
But taking to the skies in Planes definitely allows for some visually interesting new characters to this world.
Going in, I assumed that this was a Pixar movie... it's set in the world of Cars, which came out of Pixar, but it turns out it's actually from DisneyToon Studios who seem to be responsible for the majority of Disney's direct-to-video movies... and it actually explains quite a lot. Although John Lasseter had a hand in this movie, it doesnt' have the touch of Pixar magic.
The story is about a cropdusting plane with a fear of heights who competes in a famous around-the-world aerial race... but I have to say that the story was possibly the weakest part of the movie. It wasn't predictable like the first Cars movie, but it also wasn't overly fleshed out or strong.
To be honest I didn't feel like the characters were given enough time to really come together... in a lot of ways it's almost a rehash of Cars with Dusty Crophopper in the Lightning McQueen role, and a number of other parallel roles for the other characters... even down to the fact that the "villains" from both movies have a similar green, yellow and orange colour scheme.
I did find myself sitting there wondering what kind of aircraft the plane characters were based on though... particularly the character of Ishani, the Indian race contestant... who it turns out is based on the AeroCanard FG kit aircraft... which is a very visually distinctive looking plane. All of the planes have a really great look to be honest, although in a lot of ways it was a visual sensibility that I wished they'd pushed further.
One of my favourite things about Cars 2 was the fact that when they travelled to Japan, France, Italy and England, each of the cities was given a car themed makeover... and in the first movie a lot of the landscape around Radiator Springs was made to look like cars or car parts. And that was decidedly lacking in this movie.
I don't know if they didn't want to confuse things by having the main characters all be planes and then having car themed landmarks, but it definitely stood out to me as something that was lacking. Doubly so given the fact that they visit the Taj Mahal at one point and the "car'ed" version of that already showed up in the end credits for the second movie, but it doesn't look anything like that this time around.
The other thing that I noticed was an overall lack of cars in the world of Planes. Yes, there are a few, but the majority of the ground vehicles are the little forklifts (based on Guido from the first movie)... which again struck me as strange... whether it was to not let the planes be overshadowed by different types of cars or literally so that they were smaller than the planes, I'm not sure... I just know it was something that called attention to itself.
Having said all of that, it's not a bad movie. As always with anything that comes out of Pixar, it's visually gorgeous... from the beautiful look of the cars to the really gorgeous landscapes, it's a treat to watch.
It's definitely not as good as the second Cars movie, and even though the story felt fresher than the original Cars, it still wasn't completely up to the Pixar standard.
yani's rating: 6 tailwinds out of 10