Feelings before seeing Planes was more the "not sure how it was going to turn out" sort of feeling. On one hand, there was the hope that Disney(or Disney Toon Studios to be exact) would continue the return to form trend started with 2009's The Princess and the Frog, which later saw even better films with Tangled(their best film since The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Wreck it Ralph, Winnie the Pooh was also very sweet. There was also the feeling of trepidation as well because reading the plot line gives the sense that it would be predictable and unoriginal. Regardless of any initial feelings, the only way to judge Planes was to see it. Sadly, Planes was very disappointing for this viewer and possibly their weakest since Chicken Little. And this is coming from somebody who hopefully knows how to judge family films, yes guys this is a family film not a kids' film.
Planes does have things that it did do well. The animation is the best aspect by some considerable distance, it is great, not the best animation there's ever been but it looks beautiful all the same. It manages to be colourful and well-textured with detailed backgrounds and well-designed characters. The camera angles as well are a source of wonder, they're very well-incorporated and really give the sense that you're journeying in the air with the character. The music is catchy, with very well-chosen songs, and serves the film very well, the mariachi version of Love Machine is very sweet and fun. The aviation at least shows that the writers have done their research. The voice acting too is commendable all round, with Dane Cook in particular voicing with enthusiasm. John Cleese, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Val Kilmer are pleasing too, though they have been better.
Unfortunately Planes is also one of those films where it starts slowly and unpromising and never really takes off, sorry couldn't resist. The story just doesn't have any spark, the storytelling is predictable and lazy and the pacing sedate. People have said that it is basically Cars in the air with touches of Top Gun, Jay Jay the Jet Plane and The Ugly Duckling story and that is true, it is a very derivative film that makes a bigger problem in that there is nothing of surprise or distinction. The script lacks freshness, charm and wit, instead it's full of tedious down-time talk, tired one-liners and jokes(crazy like a firefox for example) and has no emotional impact. The air-force/aviation jargon might go over children's heads as well. The romance between Dusty and Ishani comes across as a cliche that is poorly developed, almost like an afterthought. The characters are annoyingly shallow, Dusty is not so bad but the rest are not very interesting and their development is thin, Skipper's back-story especially felt shoe-horned in and forced. El Chupacabra has his moments but is a stereotypical character(something that people may take a dislike to) and too many of his jokes are lame. In fact there are a lot of cultural stereotypes, and much of them border on the insensitive. The villain Ripslinger is also stereotypically designed and is possibly one of Disney's blandest villains, with some of the most annoying and unnecessary goons of any animated film in recent memory. The action looks good in the animation but fails to generate any excitement, much of it suffers from too much predictability and that the pacing is too sedate throughout.
In conclusion, far from a truly terrible film or the plane wreck it's made out to be but a disappointingly lazy one where it's easy to see the things Planes has been criticised for. Then again this is personal opinion and be taken with a pinch of salt instead of being discarded for being an opinion being different to your own. 4/10 Bethany Cox