If the first Planes film, a spin-off from Pixar’s Cars, appeared to be propelled by merchandising rather than creative necessity, this action-packed sequel attempts to stand on its own landing gear with a stirring tale of heroism and self-sacrifice.
Planes 2: Fire & Rescue immerses us in the daredevil world of fire-fighting, honouring the men and women – and aircraft – who “fly in when others are flying out”.
It’s a touching sentiment and screenwriter Jeffrey M Howard engineers some moving exchanges between the characters, some of whom are a splutter away from the scrap heap.
Director Bobs Gannaway employs 3D to striking effect in aerial sequences and the animation of raging infernos is impressively realistic.
However, there’s an inescapable feeling that this gung-ho adventure should have taken a flight path directly to the home formats rather than crash into the big screen.
Planes 2: Fire & Rescue is geared towards younger viewers, hammering home the importance of team work and valuable contribution of emergency services.
There are a handful of verbal and visual gags to engage older audiences, but on the whole, Gannaway’s sequel lacks the sophistication and emotional richness of Frozen or recent Pixar fare.
Animation is crisp and colourful and the vocal performances are similarly warm so audiences feel a toasty glow before the first plumes of smoke from the computer-generated blazes.