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Planes 2: Fire and Rescue (Mark Mancina)

September 6, 2014

Cover_Planes2FireAndRescuePLANES 2: Fire and Rescue

Mark Mancina, 2014, Disney
33 tracks, 56:36

The sequel to 2013’s “Planes” sees composer Mark Mancina returning to score it. Will “Fire & Rescue” have that same feel-good feeling that made the first score so incredibly enjoyable?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

The sequel to last year’s “Planes“, “Fire and Rescue” sees Dusty joining a forest fire and rescue team to be re-trained as a firefighter, after having been told that his engine is damaged and he may never race again. The film is directed by Roberts Gannaway whose previous directing credits consist mainly of animated tv-shows and videogames. Dane Cook lends his voice to Dusty, while Ed Harris and Teri Hatcher are also present. For the original score they retained composer Mark Mancina.

What does it sound like?

The album opens with three Country & Western songs, which are well-produced and sound exactly (as in: stereotypically so) how you’d expect C&W to sound. However, the lyrics are painfully cringeworthy and sound like they were written by a 12-year old. The over-active guitars do eventually get on my nerves as well and so….

…to hear the soft strings and noble trumpet of Mark Mancina’s “Main Title” is a wonderful relief. The composer has added a lively string arpeggio, but other than that it’s exactly the same as it was during the first film. As you might expect, the main theme returns many times throughout the score in many guises. Like its prequel, this score revolves entirely around its themes. Racing strings, soaring brass, strumming guitars, clicking percussion and running woodwinds are never far away either. The score runs the gamut of emotions as it offers comedy, danger, sadness and noble heroism. As such it’s a colourful work with the entire orchestra getting a work-out.

Guitars continue to play an important role in Mancina’s score with “Propwash” and “You Had Us Worried” using acoustic guitars to add a sense of Americana; whilst “Dusty Crash Lands”, “Fire”, “Fire by the Lodge” and “Fire Heroes” use electric guitars to create a dark and dangerous atmosphere.

Cues like “Dusty Crash Lands”, “Fire” and “An All New May Day”, and many of the later tracks, offer powerful brass stabs and lively brass ostinati alongside racing strings, conveying a sense of danger and excitement. The latter track (as well as “Pontoons” and “You Has Us Worried”) also includes a passage that is distractingly similar to “Chicken Run”. Other tracks such as “We Got the Gear Box” or “Cad” offer typical comedic phrases for woodwinds, including saxophone. The latter cue even utilises the sound of a cracking whip. The ‘mickey mousing’ nature of these tracks really doesn’t make for an engaging listen. Luckily there aren’t too many of these.

A number of cues are so short, one has to wonder what the point of including them is? “A Special Kind of Plane” houses a neat secondary theme (possibly for Blade) but is only 25 seconds long; “Blazin’ Blade Mystery” is 22 seconds of flute runs and tremolo strings; whilst “Cheers” is literally one chord and four notes on an oboe. Then don’t even segue into the next track, which would’ve made their presence more forgivable. There are a few other cues that don’t get past the 1-minute mark; and many more that fall well short of the 2-minute mark.

Having said that, most cues are good fun, centred around one of the score’s main themes. Due to the nature of the story (Dusty is now fighting fires, rather than racing) the score is a little darker than its prequel, but Mancina knows his audience and never loses his whimsical ways.

Is it any good?

Mancina’s “Planes: Fire and Rescue” is still a playful and enjoyable work. A real throwback to his works from the 90s. Where last year’s “Planes” came as a pleasant surprise, “Fire and Rescue” is just pleasant. There are no surprises here. In fact, it sounds distractingly familiar at times. And now that I’m over the initial excitement of hearing a brand-new Mancina score (especially one that harkened back to the good old 90s), it does somewhat feel like ‘more of the same’. Whilst most cues are perfectly adequate, some of the bigger ones lack gravitas as the orchestrations are a little too flat. There is a lot going on, and I can’t fault Mancina’s ambitions, but a lot of it goes on in unison and lacks depth as a result. In comparison, someone like John Powell proves you can have fun with memorable themes and complex orchestrations. There are many wonderful tracks to be found here, and I really don’t want to knock this score, but another issue is that too many of them are too short and end too abruptly, thus preventing this score from taking off and really soaring. Having said that, this is still an incredibly fun and innocent little score with its tongue firmly in cheek.

Rating [3/5]

Tracklisting

1. Still I Fly – Spencer Lee* (3.58)
2. Runway Romance – Brad Paisley* (2.44)
3. All In – Brad Paisley* (3.45)
4. Planes: Fire & Rescue – Main Title (2.26)
5. Propwash (1.56)
6. Out of Production (1.09)
7. Dusty Crash Lands (0.57)
8. Fire! (1.29)
9. An All New Mayday (1.04)
10. Sad Mayday (2.00)
11. Pontoons (0.45)
12. A Special Kind of Plane (0.25)
13. Training Dusty (2.20)
14. We Got the Gear Box (0.37)
15. Cad (1.24)
16. Blazin’ Blade Mystery (0.22)
17. Mystery of Blaze-Lightning (1.22)
18. Lightning Storm Fire (1.46)
19. (It’s) Hip To Be Cad (2.28)
20. Harvey & Winnie (0.40)
21. Cheers (0.11)
22. Nobody Has Your Gear Box (0.55)
23. Fire By The Lodge (3.39)
24. Behind Enemy Lines (2.24)
25. Evacuation (1.25)
26. Blade Is Down (1.04)
27. Loopin’ Lopez (1.14)
28. Tourist Trapped (2.28)
29. Fire Heroes (2.18)
30. Rescue Harvey & Winnie (2.09)
31. Dusty Saves The Day (0.53)
32. Saving Dusty (1.07)
33. You Had Us Worried (3.12)

* Song

 

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3 Comments
  1. You pointed out that parts of “An All New May Day” sounded like “Chicken Run.” I suspect that they temped that scene with “Main Titles” from “Chicken Run”–it is clear that they sound undeniably similar, bur the two tracks also have the *exact* same tempo.

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