When Planes: Fire and Rescue was announced last August at the D23 Expo, it caught people by surprise. Planes had just opened that day, and the notion that a sequel was already in the works was far from anybody’s mind. Now that sequel is about to open, and it holds surprises of its own.
Planes: Fire and Rescue finds our plucky hero, Dusty Crophopper facing an existential crisis. Really. Planes are mortal, as Dusty finds within a few scenes of the film’s opening. And it is thus that Dusty embarks on an entirely new adventure that proves that everyone can have a second chance at life.
It was while working on the original Planes that the filmmakers determined that they wanted to make this second story. The 1988 forest fires in Yellowstone National Park were the inspiration for this tale of how Dusty becomes a firefighter—part of a crew who have all, in one way or another, been given a second chance at life.
This also fit perfectly with the model for which Disneytoon Studios is designed: to produce film series. The Tinker Bell films have been successful on video, and with the second Planes films coming to theaters, Dusty and company have explored the world of racing and firefighting. There are any number of places these characters can be taken next.
After a few scenes reestablishing the setting of the original Planes, Dusty sets out for Piston Peak National Park, and the Air Attack Base that protects it from forest fires. The natural beauty of the Park is enhanced by the Grand Fusel Lodge, a newly restored landmark that is about to reopen with a gala party. When a fire threatens the festivities, the firefighters at the Base must battle not only nature’s fury, but the thwarted desires of the Park’s ambitious Superintendant, Cad Spinner as well.
Showing Dusty the ropes in his newfound vocation is the crew of the Attack Base. Led by Blade Ranger, a helicopter with a surprising past, the others include the flirtatious Dipper, mysterious Windlifter, and wisecracking Maru. With the help of the Smokejumpers they keep Piston Peak National Park safe during fire season.
But Planes: Fire and Rescue is about more than one plane’s conflict with nature and his fellow machines. It is about not only finding a second chance in life, but also following it. In saving Piston Peak, the Grand Fusel Lodge, and all its guests, Dusty learns how to save himself.