Lionsgate’s “Wings” Sequel Holds Its Own Against Disney’s “Planes” Sequel

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release the latest installment in its family friendly Wings franchise next Tuesday, July 8thWings: Sky Force Heroes is the follow-up to Lionsgate’s 2012 CG-film Wings.  Ace and Colonel are both back in this latest installment.  But unlike the franchise’s first flick, neither is a fighter jet.  Colonel (voiced once again by Tom Skerritt) is a high performance biplane while Ace (voiced again by Josh Duhamel) is just as high tech as a double prop plane this time out.  The return of the entire voice cast from the first film in the series is only one of the positives to this high flying, family friendly flick.  Anyone that is familiar with Disney’s Planes franchise will appreciate that as with the previous Wings this latest installment bears its own story despite its close similarities to Disney’s franchise.  That is the primary plus to this story.  And last worth noting in this movie is its CG-based “animation” style.  While the story is similar to that of Disney’s new Planes sequel, its look is more closely akin to Fox Searchlight’s 2005 movie Robots than any more recent CG-based movies.  This includes Disney’s properties.  All three of these factors together make Wings: Sky Force Heroes a good family friendly flick that’s worth at least one watch.

There’s no denying that Wings: Sky Force Heroes bears a distinct similarity in its script to that of Disney’s recently premiered Planes sequel Planes: Fire & Rescue.  Despite the similarity in question, Wings: Sky Force Heroes does manage to establish its own identity separate from that of the previously noted movie.  Rather than trying to make this movie into a sequel, the movie’s writing team—Harry Glennon, Mychal Simka, and Jordan Winsen—made it its own movie, complete with its own world.  It just so happens that in this story’s case the two leads go by the same name as the leads in the first of the Wings franchise.  Accepting that, it makes suspension of disbelief much easier in a case such as this.  The ability of viewers to suspend their disbelief makes taking in the story much easier and more enjoyable.

The ability of the writers behind Wings: Sky Force Heroes to craft a story similar to yet dissimilar to Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue is central to the overall enjoyment of the story.  Just as worth noting in the presentation’s success is the return of the entire lead voice cast from the original installment in the Wings franchise.  This is one area in which Lionsgate has truly scored.  Lionsgate has scored in this aspect in that Disney’s animated sequels (and sequels in general) rarely re-unite the cast from their predecessors.  This means potentially entirely new casts must get to know one another.  And that can hinder said sequels greatly.   The chemistry developed between Duhamel (Transformers 1 3), Skerritt (Alien, Ted, Top Gun) and the rest of the Wings cast obviously carried over into this latest high-flying family friendly flick from Lionsgate. And because it did, the cast had no trouble interpreting the story’s script and working together.  The end result was a movie loaded with plenty of family friendly content worth at least one watch.

The return of the complete voice cast from Wings and the ability of the writers behind Wings: Sky Force Heroes to craft a story that established the movie’s own identity both play integral parts in the success of this latest movie from Lionsgate’s Wings franchise. Last but not least of all worth noting about this direct-to-DVD feature is its animation. The movie’s animation sets it apart from anything that Disney, 20th Century Fox, and any other studio has churned out in recent years. It’s tough to tell one studio from another nowadays because it is all so cookie cutter. The closest comparison that can be noted with Wings: Sky Force Heroes is perhaps to Fox Searchlight’s Robots. As forgettable as Robots proved to be, few other studios if any have attempted a movie with a similar look since then. That serves to make the look of this piece stand out even more. That mostly original look to the movie combined with its cast and script come together to make Wings: Sky Force Heroes a truly fun, high-flying, family friendly film worth at least one watch. One thing is for sure, one watch will have spirits soaring just as high as the planes in the movie, given that chance.

Wings: Sky Force Heroes will be available exclusively in Wal-Mart stores and online on DVD/VUDU combo pack next Tuesday, July 8th. More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate, http://www.lionsgate.com, and http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Hey Dude’s Final Season A Fun Finale

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

The end is here for the Ted, Brad, Melody, Mr. Ernst and everyone at the Bar None Dude Ranch.  The final season of Nickelodeon’s classic 90’s teen-based sitcom, Hey Dude hits stores today in a double disc set.  Hey Dude is just as entertaining in its final season as it was in its first.  This time around, the kids at the Bar None learn even more lessons all while entertaining audiences all over again.  Ted and Kyle learn the importance of teamwork this season.  The gang also learns the perils of parenthood when a forgetful mom accidentally leaves her baby at the ranch.  And in the series’ final episode, the Bar None staff plays a game of capture the flag that pits Ted, Danny, and Melody against Brad, Kyle, Buddy and Jake.  The ultimate outcome leads to quite the surprise for viewers.  One can only wonder what potential Hey Dude could have had should it have been picked up for another season.  Sadly, audiences will never know that as the show’s final episode wasn’t necessarily a finale and the show wasn’t renewed after its fifth season.  At least these final episodes are available to bring back the childhoods of the show’s original audiences in place of any longed for new episodes.

The scripts for the episodes included in Season Five are full of laughs and important lessons.  This is something that sadly exists far less in children’s programming than in this and other shows from the 1990s.  This makes this final set of episodes that much more important for adults that originally watched this hit series as children in its original run on Nickelodeon.  The lessons of parenthood and teamwork presented in the final season are just as prescient today as they were in their original airings.  This is especially the case today as it would seem that teen pregnancy and abortion have become such hot topics.  Brad, Melody, Ted, Danny, and the rest of the gang learn just how tough parenthood is when a guest of the ranch accidentally leaves her baby at the ranch.  Parents can show this episode to younger audiences and show them just how tough it is, and connect that to they themselves being parents.  Who knows, maybe this episode could help serve as a deterrent from teens engaging in risky behavior.

The lesson of teamwork taught in “Jealous Guy” is timeless.  Ted and Kyle are forced to work together in this episode after the ranch’s jeep breaks down out in the desert.  The two are anything but friends at first.  But they realize over time that they have to overcome their differences if they want to survive.  This is a lesson that rings just as true today as it did in the early 1990s.  It’s obvious that the show’s original audiences have forgotten this lesson.  Proof again that grown-ups could benefit from this episode just as much as their children. 

The final episode of Hey Dude was just as silly and entertaining as the final season’s other episodes.  It also teaches its own valuable lesson about learning what’s really important.  It does this through a script centered on a game of capture the flag between the ranch staff.  Brad and Ted become so obsessed with earning senior staff status that they will do whatever it takes to win at a game of capture the flag that determines who will be the new senior staff.  The episode’s conclusion could actually be interpreted in two manners.  On one side, it could be argued that the lesson is the classic be careful what you wish for lesson.  That argument could be made in the fact that both Ted and Brad get what they want.  But it comes at a cost.  On the other hand, it could also be argued that the lesson taught here is of the dangers of letting a game get out of hand.  Both of these lessons could even apply.  One or the other doesn’t necessarily have to stand alone as the primary lesson.  They both work whether by themselves or in tandem.  It’s one more positive that makes this show enjoyable even in its final episodes. 

That the writers and all behind Hey Dude would maintain the standard of teaching lessons while entertaining through the show’s final season makes this classic worthy of praise.  The lessons in each of the final episodes combine with the continued comedic elements to make this final season a fitting closing to the series, even if the final episode was just another episode.  It would have been nice to have had some closure.  But beggars can’t be choosers.  And because of that, it makes this another welcome addition to any classic Nickelodeon fan’s home library.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217488

To find out about all of the latest releases from Shout! Factory, audiences can go online to http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial and “Like” it. 

To keep up with all of the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.