Disney hasn't been having a lot of luck with their animated features
recently, and so they've been churning out some live action movies too.
In 2005 the movie that they really pushed was the Lindsey Logan remake
Herbie Fully Loaded. It didn't do as well as expected, and
Disney's other big film for 2005, Sky High, didn't get a very big
advertising budget. That's too bad, because Sky High is a
fun family flick that would have done better during its theatrical release
if more people had known about it. This light comedy has now been
released as a Blu-ray disc which is worth picking up.
lot of teenagers have trouble living up to their parent's expectations,
but Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) really has it bad. You see,
his parents are The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston),
the two greatest super-heroes the world has ever known. Many children
who have just one super-powered parent go on to be heroes themselves, and
with both The Commander and Jetstream in his family tree, everyone expects
grand things from Will. The problem is that Will doesn't have any
superpowers. All the other kids got their powers earlier, sometimes
years earlier, but Will's still an ordinary kid.
Not having the guts to tell his father that he's non-powered, Will gets
sent off to Sky High, the high school for superheroes, along with his friends
Zach and (Nicholas Braun) and Layla (Danielle Panabaker). On the
first day all of the incoming freshman get tested to see if they'll follow
the super-hero track or become side kicks, and regular Will is chosen as
a sidekick. He doesn't mind too much though. The other sidekicks
are nicer and more down to Earth than the heroes anyway.
change however when Will is attacked by Warren Peace (Steven Strait), a
kid whose mother was a hero but his father was a villain. The Commander
put his father away in jail with no hope of parole, and Warren sees Will
as the enemy. When Warren attacks, Will starts to run, but when the
flame throwing youth turns his attentions onto Will's friends, the youngest
Stronghold is forced to fight back and discovers that he has super-strength,
just like his dad.
Having a real power gets Will promoted to the hero track of classes.
There he makes friends with the popular people, starts going out with the
prettiest girl in the school, and soon forgets his old 'sidekick' friends.
When a villain attacks the school and neutralizes just about all of the
heroes, it's up to Will and the sidekicks to save the day.
This is an enjoyable movie. It reminded me a lot of those John
Hughes high school films from the 80's like The Breakfast Club and
Sixteen Candles but with superheroes instead of normal people.
The plot was similar in a lot of ways, the relationship between the outcasts
and the cool kids; the only difference is that some of these kids can bend
steel with their bare hands.
The plot was pretty transparent, most people will see what's going to
happen long before it does, but in this movie the ride is more fun that
arriving at the destination. There are a lot of funny scenes sprinkled
throughout the film and these make it worth watching. The sorting
segment, where freshman are segregated into 'heroes' and 'sidekicks', is
great. Bruce Campbell does a great job as the coach, Sonic Boomer.
He decides if someone has what it takes to be a hero by dropping a car
on them. If they catch it, they're a hero. The movie is filled
with cute scenes like that, which really make if fun for the whole family.
One thing that does rub viewers the wrong way is the music used in the
film. The soundtrack consisted of many very cool 80's new wave and
alternative hits. Unfortunately instead of using the original artists,
the wise powers that be at Disney decided to hire unknown groups to cover
the songs. This basically means the soundtrack sucks. While
the cover bands did an adequate job it was incredibly distracting to hear
a favorite song sung in a different manner, and none of these covers were
better than the original. This was a very bad choice on Disney's
For some unknown reason Buena Vista has decided not to include menus
with their Blu-ray discs. When the disc is popped in the movie automatically
starts. To select a different audio track or view a bonus item, the
pop-up menu has to be accessed while the movie is playing. You have
to set the subtitles and audio track on the fly which is a very inconvenient
way of doing things. The menu was one of the great things about DVDs
and eliminating it is a huge step backwards. What were the people
at Buena Vista thinking???
The 1080p encoded 2.40:1 image looked very good for the most part.
The two things that have plagued some Blu-ray releases, grain and posterization,
are very minimal in the case of the former and almost totally missing when
it comes to the latter. The definition and detail are very good,
though some of the scenes that are heavy with special effects are a tad
softer, and blacks are solid. There is a good amount of depth to
the image that is sure to please viewers. The only problem I really
had was with the colors. They were bright and solid but they also
looked like they had been tweaked in post-production. This gave some
objects a slightly unnatural look. The Commander's uniform is a good
example of this. The color is too even and it looks a little cartoonish.
This wasn't a major problem, but studios are artificially adjusting colors
more often now, and it's a practice that I don't think enhances a movie.
The disc offers viewers the choice of an uncompressed (48Hz/16-bit)
5.1 track and DD 5.1 tracks in English, Spanish and French. I screened
this film with the uncompressed track playing and it was okay but not outstanding.
The problem wasn't with the reproduction but with the way the film was
mixed itself. It just wasn't that exciting of an audio track.
The action scenes took full use of the soundstage, but after they were
over the mix basically collapsed into a front based mix. (This wasn't
always the case luckily. The scenes in the gym had nice echo effects
come out of the rear. This was an exception however.) The range
was fine, and the voices sounded crisp and clear. There really wasn't
anything wrong with the audio, I was just hoping for a little more.
Once again people who opt for a HD disc are missing out on extras.
If the Blu-ray format is ever going to take off, this really has to stop.
It's hard enough convincing people to lay down $1000+ for a player, but
it's even more difficult when they realize that they are going to be paying
more for the movies and getting less in the way of bonus items. This
disc drops a music video and a blooper reel that were on the SD version
of the movie.
So, what do we have in the way of extras? Most of what was on
the SD release with no exclusive HD content. There is an alternate
beginning that's pretty fun, but I can understand why they cut it out of
the movie. The film is pretty predictable as it is and this alternate
beginning made it even more transparent.
The 15-minute behind the scenes featurette is pretty unimpressive.
It shows the cast and crew at work and horsing around between takes.
Nothing really earth-shattering. There's also a 7 minute bit on how
some of the stunts were performed.
This is a fun and enjoyable film for the whole family. Though
the plot is something out of an after-school special, there are enough
jokes and new twists on the old theme to make the film worth watching.
Though they played with the colors a bit in post-production, the Blu-ray
picture looks good too. Recommended.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do
not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.