Disney on fire with ‘Planes: Fire and Rescue’

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Whoever has been a child in recent history must recognize how important animated films are during childhood. They help children grow, guide their character and provide epic and everlasting references to be refreshed every once in a while — when you sit on a sofa with your oldest friends and watch a classic animated film. These are some of the most sacred, spiritually solemn and consecrated times of our lives. These movies are us, and they tell a story of youth.

The studio that has become most legendary at creating legends — with Pixar’s competition in the past decade — is Disney. Disney has created a legacy of epic proportions. And with their new movie “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” they seek to continue this tradition.

No princesses, no dragons, no magic, no talking animals and, to our disappointment, certainly no lions. This movie continues with one of the most modern Disney traditions: bringing vehicles to life.

The sequel starts where “Planes” left off. Dusty, the hero — voiced by Dane Cook — has become an accomplished racer, overcoming his fear of heights. He has won everything there is to win, and has nothing to prove, as there is no exceeding perfection. He comes back home to Piston Peak for a local race, only important for its sentimental value. Despite being an extraordinary racer and world-class champion, he keeps pushing himself to the limit in a test of youth and perhaps vanity. Unfortunately, he pushes too hard and his reduction gearbox malfunctions and breaks. It is a piece that’s out of production, and will end his racing career, as it forces him to hold back — or crash.

Dusty, failing to acknowledge his limitations, becomes too arrogant and decides to keep trying. As he does, he fails and isn’t able to equal his past success. In the process, he accidentally ignites a fire that shows just how antiquated and ineffective Piston Peak’s fire department is. The authorities interfere, and deem the place too unsafe to have an airport. Therefore the race and the town are shut down and with no hope of survival. To mend the errors of his ways, Dusty vows to become a part of the fire department and keep it up to code so that the race — and the town — can be saved. Meanwhile, his friends vow to move heaven and earth to find him his gearbox, so that he may return to his true passion — racing.

“Planes” becomes a tale of how a former celebrity racer attempts to become a firefighter and undergoes the training necessary to do so. It teaches humility, team-work, adaptation to new environments, accepting limitations and pushing them to conquer your barriers and fears. It is a story of overcoming scars, improving by learning and how achievement and fulfillment can come in all shapes and colors. It becomes a tale of those who “fly in, when others are flying out,” as Blade Ranger — a veteran fire-rescue helicopter voiced by Ed Harris — states, in a clear homage to firefighters. Dusty had flown across the world, but Blade Ranger exposes his frailty outside of his racing bubble, as he asks “The world wasn’t on fire, was it?” And so, in a quest to save this town, Dusty goes to a small training camp to become a “certified” firefighter.

On the way to becoming a true firefighter, he meets a wide range of characters. However, they are all stereotypes: The unorthodox genius mechanic, the distant, strong tough guy with a sweet-heart, the spiritual Native American, the jokesters and the list goes on. However, and though universally generic, their participation in the story is not of such nature. They are truly a huge part of how Dusty must grow, and what he needs to do so.

The prequel, “Planes”, received criticism for being overtly sexist. The movie lacked strong female characters and used “ladies” to describe demeaning or weak male behavior. Disney has listened to the critics. The use of “ladies” as an insult is gone — it is surprising and disappointing it existed in the first place. Lil’ Dipper (Julie Bowen) does play the role of an independent female who actively participates in the same firefighting activities as the rest of the males, and Dynamite (Regina King) leads the “Smokejumpers,” a group of ground vehicles that play a crucial role in fire extinction.

Disney attempts to return from the movie that marked their lowest point. “Planes” was an aggregate of bright colors with the objective of distracting those who still pretend to extend their arms to the side and pretend to fly into the sunset. The sequel is destined to not follow the legendary path of the classic Disney movies. But at least, it is gender sensitive, which at this point in history is a necessary social requirement.

Contact David Socol at [email protected].