How many sequels can you name that were better than the original? Aliens comes to mind, but few others. What made that one such a success was how completely different it was from the first one. Different characters, different character development, even different genre (action instead of horror). Most sequels are usually just a continuation of the last story with little character development or anything truly different or unique to make it stand apart. That is especially true with animated features whose sequels usually ended up going straight to home video / DVD before Toy Story 2 broke the mold. Now animated sequels are commonplace, but again suffer from the same problem that non-animated sequels do – nothing new going on. That is not the case at all with Planes: Fire & Rescue. Like Aliens before it, Planes: Fire & Rescue takes the original story and goes off in a completely new direction.
Filled with high-flying action, incredible animation, and an engaging story, it takes place not in the racing world, but in the forests of our national parks. When Dusty Crophopper, the racing crop duster from the first Planes movie, suffers a debilitating injury, he has to face the prospect of life without racing. Through a series of events, Dusty decides to become a SEAT – Single Engine AirTanker. He goes into training as part of an elite crew of aerial firefighters who protect the forests from wildfires that can shift, grow, and consume the land at terrifying rates. Joining him are the group’s leader Blade Ranger (voiced by Ed Harris), heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter, transport plane Cabbie, and the vivacious Lil’ Dipper (Julie Bowen). But my favorites were the Smokejumpers – a crew of ground vehicles that parachute in to help battle the fire on the ground. They are a group of fun-loving, tough-as-nails vehicles that work seamlessly together.
This is a wonderful movie to see with your kids or for the kid in all of us. By itself, it’s a fantastic movie, and you don’t need to see the first one to fully enjoy this one. I love that they took a new twist on the “vehicle” franchise (the Cars movies and now the Planes movies). It’s great when seeing a movie not only excites you, makes you laugh, and puts a smile on your face, but also touches your heart. And to be sure, you’ll walk away with an even deeper appreciation of what firefighters do every day in the service of their communities.
- To read my interview with Sean Bautista, one of the consultants for the Planes movie click here.
- For some fun activities for the kids (or for the Planes: Fire & Rescue fan) just click on the link below for a full-color PDF booklet!