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Planes: Fire & Rescue by Mark Mancina (Review)

posted Jul 16, 2014, 7:30 PM by Kaya Savas

Mark Mancina returns to the world of Planes to add even more splendor and wonder to this Disney franchise that aims solely at the youngster demographic. Mancina has become rather selective of what projects he does at this point in his career, and I find that his choice for Planes is an interesting even if not a surprising one. Mancina was able to add that weightless lift to the film with a score that truly made you feel as if you were soaring through the air. Disney also did something unprecedented; they released a full trailer for the first film that featured 100% of Mark’s score and nothing else. I doubt we will ever see something like that again. It spoke to the testament of the score, and for Planes: Fire & Rescue we actually have a much better effort all around. Mancina adds more thematic and melodic structure for a score that resonates deeper. 

Planes: Fire & Rescue takes all the goodness of Planes and weaves in more substance. Since the film is essentially a “Little Engine That Could” story, we have music that supports that idea of heroism and teamwork. Mancina keeps it light enough not to be too intense for the youngsters, but in no means does he hold back or sugarcoat. The score actually carries a good amount of weight that is able to add a sense of danger to the fire and rescue scenes. These moments are the best of the score for listeners like me who grew up listening to Mancina’s 90’s action scores. I mean, around the 1:55 mark of “Tourist Trapped” we get a nostalgic throwback to Con Air’s Cyrus The Virus theme. There is a lot of Mancina styling to be had here, much more so than the first film. The weak spot still is that the score works in smaller bursts, especially for the comedic character touches, but there are some nice lengthy moments that let you take the music in. Mancina even adds a nice little The Great Escape homage in “An All New Mayday” and “Pontoons” that of course only the older folks will get. But it shows that this score isn’t a score simply “meant for children”, it’s just a great adventure score with high spirits. The final act truly has some of those great Mancina moments that will send chills. 

Planes: Fire & Rescue does an amazing job at lifting your spirits for exciting aerial scoring. Mancina truly lets a bit more loose this time around. The score finally finds its groove in the final act, and that’s where the strongest writing is. There are plenty of heroic moments that lend themselves to a memorable musical adventure full of great melodic writing. The disjointed quirky character bits need to be there given what the film is and its target demographic, but there is still plenty for Mancina fans and the big kids to love.