Two action-packed animated flicks arrive on screens today for the school holidays. Michele Manelis looks at how they stack up.
What: Disney's aerial spin-off to the Cars franchise, it also marks the first film in a planned trilogy. It's an against-the-odds story of a crop-duster struggling to realise his lifetime goal of competing in an around-the-world race.
The lead character: Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) is a crop-duster; an underdog with a chip on his shoulder because of his unsophisticated rustic background.
The challenges he faces: His fear of heights.
Supporting characters include: Dottie, a forklift and good friend of Dusty who's concerned about him pursuing this unrealistic dream (voiced by Teri Hatcher), Rochelle, a competitor plane (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Chug, his loyal best friend (Brad Garrett), Bulldog, an old RAF officer from World War II (John Cleese), and Skipper, a veteran fighter who trains Dusty (Stacy Keach).
And there are voice cameos by: Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards who played navy pilots Goose and Iceman in the 1986 Tom Cruise plane movie Top Gun.
What the guy doing Dusty's voice thinks: "I wanted to convey that even though this crop-duster looks feeble in the world of these big bad racers, it was important he had a 'sound of strength'. I found it an unexpected emotional experience doing this movie. Tears came to my eyes in the recording booth because he found the guts to go for dreams," says Dane Cook.
Although it's a story about racing, it's really about: "Wanting to reach beyond your expectations in spite of what other people think and that's something I completely relate to," says Teri Hatcher. "It sprinkles a bit of light on our fears and makes us think out of the box. It makes us feel we can do anything in life and that we need to go for it to get what we want no matter how scary it is."
What TimeOut reviewer Francesca Rudkin says: Everything you expect from Disney, Planes has lessons about loyalty and following dreams, sprightly characters full of personality, excellent voice work and colourful animation that is at times dizzying, especially in 3D. All this would make for a superb film if the story wasn't so derivative. The familiar storyline and lazy character development mean Planes feels like the poor cousin of Cars. The characters are likeable enough but they just can't make this animation fly. Littlies will enjoy it the most.
What: Dreamworks' latest offering is about an ordinary garden snail with dreams of becoming the greatest racer in the world, like his hero, five-time Indianapolis 500 champ, Guy Gagne. Turbo experiences a freak accident that enables him to become the world's fastest snail.
The lead character: Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is an outsider in his community of snails where a slow-paced life is the norm and his need for speed is a constant embarrassment to his older brother, Chet. However, because of Turbo's unlikely success, he becomes a hero and social media sensation.
The challenges he faces: Being ridiculed by his peers.
Supporting characters include: Chet (Paul Giamatti) as Turbo's brother; Tito Lopez (Michael Pena) a taco truck driver who befriends Turbo; Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg) a fellow snail; Paz (Michelle Rodriguez), a car mechanic; Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), leader of the snail crew; Guy Gagne (Bill Hader), the French-Canadian Indy 500 champion.
And there are voice cameos by: Racing stars Dario Franchitti and Mario Andretti.
What the guy doing Turbo's voice thinks: "Turbo suffers rejection a lot in his life and as an actor I understand where Turbo's coming from because you're rejected in your career much more than when you're told you're 'the guy'. I liked that Turbo eventually found faith in himself and eventually he became 'the guy' because he hung in and went for his dreams," says Ryan Reynolds.
Although it's a story about racing snails, it's really about: "Finding an underdog and turning him into a hero, and what is more of an underdog than a snail? They're smashed, they're eaten by people, they're the butt of slow jokes around the world and they're loaded with obstacles. It's about not letting yourself listen to other people's limitations of yourself," says director David Soren.
What TimeOut reviewer Francesca Rudkin says: Compared to Planes, Turbo is a well-rounded animation for the whole family. Its underdog narrative is familiar but the idea of a garden snail being our hero adds a welcome touch of craziness. There's slapstick for the kids, subtle humour for parents and the animators really let loose when it comes to the racing. Turbo may be a cross between Ratatouille and Cars, but it's harmless, feel-good fun with plenty of heart, mostly because of Reynolds' loveable, humble and heroic performance.