Disney’s Planes – Fire & Rescue = Amazing!

13 Jul

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarly Saturday morning I joined the queue at the back of the AMC theater in downtown Disney so that I could see a sneak preview of Disney’s Planes – Rescue & Fire. Thanks to Disney Vacation Club, not only was I treated to the movie, we also got a delicious breakfast of popcorn and pop.

As the line snaked further and further around the building, we were given red wrist bands and a goodie bag, along with our vouchers for popcorn and pop. A DVC rep told us that since this was a sneak preview, no cell phones, camera or recording devices cold be used during the film. Security was present to make sure that all complied. This is serious business – they even had night vision binoculars which were used to scan the audience.

My expectations were pretty low for this movie. I was not a huge fan of Planes. There was nothing wrong with it.  It just seemed too predictable to me.  I didn’t think this sequel would be better.

I was wrong.

Before the film started, we were treated to a short talk by Ferrell Barron and Bobs Gannaway.  Bobs stole my heart when he asked who was the first person in line.  Once identified, he ran through the audience, to the middle of the row.  He hugged the man and said “Thank you.”  OK – so now they had officially won my stomach (I love movie popcorn) and my heart (the hug) but getting my mind – well that’s a tough job.  Bobs told us that although this movie is a sequel, it has been in the works for 4 1/2 years.

They did their homework.  Fire, smoke and water – the 3 biggest animation challenges – looked so real that I was glad before the movie they reminded us where the exits were in case of an emergency.  Having survived a middle of the night house fire with three children under 10, I found it was so realistic, I turned to my husband to ask if he smelled smoke.  My heart pounded and I was actually very nervous.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was animated and a movie.  But, yes, the animation is that good.  Better.

They made sure the science was correct.  Over 100 consultants were used in the making of this film. Cal Fire was extensively involved to assure the sights, sounds and firefighting behavior was realistic.  Realistic it was.

The story line is done well – enough to keep kids and parents alike interested and entertained.  Dusty Crophopper leaves Propwash Junction so that he can train to be a firefighter.  In Piston Peak Park, Dusty makes new friends.  His trainer is a helicopter named Blade Ranger, voiced by Ed Harris.  Julie Bowen is the voice and personality of Dipper – who is a welcome and delightful addition to Dusty’s friends.  All of you John Ratenzberger fans out there (and I am one) won’t be disappointed.  He’s back!  The lovable Hal Holbrook is hysterical.  And it was great to “see” Stiller and Meara as loveable RVs.

Brad Paisley fans will be thrilled to hear his new song “All In” – written for this films as a tribute to firefighters.

As I watched the movie I couldn’t turn off my teacher brain.  I thought of the myriad of ways that I can (and will) use this film to teach science.  Living in Arizona we are prone to wildfires.  To have an entertaining film that allows kids to learn a lot of science is wonderful.

The red stuff that the planes in the film drop to contain the wildfires is called PHOS CHek.  It’s a fire retardant which stops the path of the fire.  Kids can learn all about it, and they will learn that fires aren’t put out, but rather they are contained.  They will learn about SEATS (single engine air tankers) and how planes that drop water on a fire can refill on the go.

But more than that they will learn about compassion and making mistakes and setting things right.  They will learn about heroes and jerks (and karma). And the whole family will be entertained in the process.

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