Reel Reviews

‘Planes: Fire & Rescue’

Audience:
A-II – Adults and adolescents

 

Watch Trailer

More Movie Reviews


 

Good take off for second in series

Anthropomorphic aircraft take to the skies again in “Planes: Fire & Rescue” (Disney), a lively follow-up to last summer’s franchise kickoff, “Planes.”

It is that rare sequel which surpasses the original in action, adventure and 3-D animation. That last element is especially vivid and immersive. In fact, the looping aerial scenes may even make some viewers queasy.

The humanless universe that originated with the “Cars” film series is cleverly expanded, with new autos, boats and trains joining the fun. Amid the many sight gags and puns, there’s a positive message about personal sacrifice on behalf of those in need, expressed by the fearless air-attack teams and smoke jumpers battling fires deep in the California forest.

Picking up where “Planes” left off, the sequel finds Dusty Crophopper (voice of Dane Cook), the humble cropduster-turned-racing-champion central to the first movie, an international celebrity. Life is good, until an accident reveals a deadly secret: Dusty’s gearbox is failing.

For a racer, this spells doom. Unless Dusty slows down, he may never fly again.
An opportunity to switch gears – and careers – arises in Piston Peak National Park. There an elite firefighting crew, led by veteran rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (voice of Ed Harris), is dedicated to protecting the forest – and the tourists who frequent a new hotel, the Grand Fusel Lodge.

Assisting Dusty in his training regimen are Lil’ Dipper (voice of Julie Bowen), a love-struck “super-scooper” aircraft (which carries water or flame retardant), and Windlifter (voice of Wes Studi), a heavy-lift helicopter who serves as the park’s resident sage. When a major fire burns out of control and threatens the hotel, Dusty is put to the ultimate test and witnesses true heroism in action.

Some of the nail-biting action scenes in “Planes: Fire & Rescue” may be a bit intense for the youngest viewers. Additionally, a few double entendres – presumably aimed at adults – may raise concerns for parents. While these one-liners are likely to pass at an elevation well above kids’ heads, their slightly incongruous presence precludes endorsement for all.

Adults, on the other hand, will appreciate the cameo voices and inside jokes. As one depressed car says to a hotel bartender, “She left me for a hybrid. I didn’t even hear him coming.” Also, Blade Ranger’s backstory includes being the star of a cult television series called “CHoPs,” short for California Helicopter Patrol, a riff on the 1977-83 television series “CHiPs.” His TV sidekick, Nick “Loop’n” Lopez, is voiced by none other than Erik Estrada, the original Ponch of “ChiPs.”

The film contains a few perilous situations and some mildly suggestive humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

Audience:
A-III – Adults

 

Watch Trailer

More Movie Reviews

The ape franchise evolves in film not for kids

Those super-sentient simians are back in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (Fox).

Though it’s not a film for kids, this latest addition to a franchise based on the work of French science-fiction author Pierre Boulle (1912-1994) has enough going for it to please most adults. Grown-ups also will find the themes underlying director Matt Reeves’ 3-D follow-up to the 2011 reboot “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” congruent with Christian values.

A decade after a pandemic called Simian Flu wiped out most of the human race, a band of survivors – led by a former law enforcement official named Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) – occupies the ruins of San Francisco. With their fuel supply running dangerously low, they send out an expedition aimed at restoring a damaged hydroelectric plant to the north of the city.

En route, however, the mission’s team members -- including widowed architect Malcolm (Jason Clarke), his teen son, Alex (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and his nurse girlfriend, Ellie (Keri Russell) – encounter, and clash with, a community of genetically evolved apes living in nearby Muir Woods.

As a potential war looms, the primates' wise chief, Caesar (Andy Serkis), works with Malcolm to prevent bloodshed.

If this peaceable duo represents the best of their respective species – each is shown to be motivated by concern for his family – the other end of the spectrum is embodied by Caesar’s aggressive deputy Koba (Toby Kebbell) and Malcolm's irascible colleague, Carver (Kirk Acevedo). Koba was a victim of torturous lab experimentation, while Carver holds the apes responsible for the ravages of Simian Flu.

Via these positive and negative role models, Reeves blends pleas for tolerance and trust in with the considerable, though largely bloodless, combat action. While thoroughly honorable, the script’s messages are delivered somewhat heavy-handedly. Still, Serkis’ striking performance, together with top-notch special effects, elevates Reeves’ sequel above run-of-the-mill entertainment.

The film contains frequent stylized violence, at least one use each of profanity and rough language as well as several crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (July 2014)

CNS classifications: A-I -- general patronage; A-II -- adults and adolescents; A-III -- adults; L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O -- morally offensive.

MPAA ratings: G -- general audiences. All ages admitted; PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children; PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian; NC-17 -- no one 17 and under admitted.

A
Across the Divide, A-II (no rating)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2, A-II (PG-13)
The Awakening, A-III (R)

B
Bad Words, O (R)
Bears, A-I (G)
Blended, A-II (PG-13)
Brick Mansions, L (PG-13)
Bully, A-III (PG-13)

C
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, A-II (PG-13)
Cesar Chavez, A-III (PG-13)
Chef, A-III (R)

D
Divergent, A-III (PG-13)
Draft Day, A-III (PG-13)
Dream House, L (PG-13)

E
Edge of Tomorrow, A-III (PG-13)

F
Fading Gigolo, O (R)
The Fault in Our Stars, A-III (PG-13)
Frances Ha, L (R)

G
God's Not Dead, A-II (PG)
Godzilla, A-III (PG-13)

H
A Haunted House 2, O (R)
Heaven Is for Real, A-I (PG)
How to Train Your Dragon 2, A-I (PG)

I
Ida, A-III (PG-13)

J
Jersey Boys, A-III, (R)

K
Killer Elite, A-III (R)

L
The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)
The Legend of Hercules, A-III (PG-13)
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, A-I (PG)

M
Maleficent, A-II (PG)
Mary of Nazareth, A-II (not rated)
Million Dollar Arm, A-III (PG)
A Million Ways to Die in the West, O (R)
Moms' Night Out, A-I (PG)
Mr. Peabody & Sherman, A-I (PG)
Muppets Most Wanted, A-I (PG)

N
Need for Speed, A-III (PG-13)
Neighbors, O (R)
Noah, A-III (PG-13)

O
Obvious Child, O (R)
Oculus, A-III (R)
The Other Woman, L (PG-13)

P
Phantom, A-III (R)

Q
Quartet, A-III (PG-13)
The Quiet Ones, A-III (PG-13)

R
The Railway Man, A-III (R)
Rio 2, A-I (G)

S
Sabotage, O (R)
Something Borrowed, L (PG-13)

T
Think Like a Man Too, O (PG-13)
Transcendence, A-III (PG-13)
Transformers: Age of Extinction, A-III (PG-13)
22 Jump Street, O (R)
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, A-III (PG-13)
Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club, A-III (PG-13)
Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, A-III (PG-13)

W
Warm Bodies, A-III (PG-13)
The Wind Rises, A-III (PG-13)

X
X-Men: Days of Future Past, A-III (PG-13)