Sequels to animated movies are common. We typically see one every year nowadays. It's nothing unusual. What is unusual however is releasing a sequel to a movie only a year after the predecessor which is the case for "Planes: Fire & Rescue". The first film was released not even a full year before this movie came out, and I was not impressed by it. I found it predictable, lazy and nothing more than a cash grab to the Cars franchise which is to be expected for a film initially intended to be released straight to DVD but was rather released in theaters instead. While this film is slightly better than that first movie, it's still pretty bad and I don't find it recommendable.
Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) has been having a very successful career racing after winning that race around the world competition in the first movie. However, his racing career is put in jeopardy when his gearbox becomes damaged after being pushed to its limit. Though that's not the only conflict in the movie. After a fire in his hometown, the airport there is condemned due to not having the proper fire equipment adequacy. Wanting to get his airport back on the map, Dusty decides to become a firefighter to help the airport and flies to a national park to undergo training from a helicopter named Blade Ranger (Ed Harris) as well as his crew. From there on out, the rest of the movie is predictable with ups and downs in terms of plot emotions as well as the many ways the film tries to show children about how park rangers put out fires.
At the beginning of the film, there was a nice dedication to all the firefighters who risked their lives to save others every single day. I'm glad that Disney went out of its way to make a dedication like this, though I do wish it went to a better movie. Even though the movie is shorter than it's predecessor, it's so boring. The film just dragged on through its predictable plot lines and added nothing new to give the film emotion. It relies on a lot of unfunny jokes including one scene where it makes puns on "Howard the Duck" as well as "CHiPs". Yeah, it made a pun on "Howard the Duck". That is just ridiculous. I also found the idea of going from a film about racing to fire safety really odd. I do like the idea of teaching children about firefighters in national parks, but kids should be learning it elsewhere other than "Planes". The animation is a step better than the predecessor. Even though I thought the fire effects were pretty good, the animation is still not on quality with the levels set by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar and once again came off as amateur. The characters are once again bland. The new ones are the same one-note personality traits you remember from the first movie and the new ones fit in that same boat. One character played by Julie Bowen really got me irritated me and sometimes disturbed me with her odd personality. The soundtrack also kind of got on my nerves. It mostly consisted of rock songs with one entire sequence blasting the AC/DC song Thunderstruck and I really have no idea why. Also, like the first movie, it wastes a talented cast, most notably Ed Harris. I have no idea why in the world an Oscar-nominated actor like him would sign on to do this cash grab, but then again, most actors just do it for the money.
And I think that's the best way to describe "Planes: Fire & Rescue". Made for the money. The story is boring and predictable, the animation while an improvement is still amateur at best, and the characters are once again bland and cliche. I do feel that fire safety is important and teaching kids about firefighters and their equipment is an interesting idea though I feel there are better movies, TV shows, and books to show kids that have done this same concept.