Sky High [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (1st December 2006).
The Film

I must admit, I'm a fan boy from childhood. Comic books, sci-fi, action figures, I dig it all. Especially comic books I grew up reading all the classics, "X-Men", "Spider-man", "Daredevil", "Batman", "Superman", etc. So superheroes are close to my heart, which is another reason I'm digging the new TV series "Heroes" (2006-Present) it mixes comic book-dom with elements of drama, comedy, suspense and all that serialised good stuff that makes shows such as "Lost" (2004-Present) and "Prison Break" (2005-Present) so damn addictive. So when given the opportunity to check out "Sky High" came around I naturally jumped at the chance, It's got superheroes and Kurt Russell is in it, this guy was Snake Plissken after all. As it turns out Russell's glory days are long behind him and although this film is entertaining popcorn fare it's far from the usual standard or work that includes "Escape From New York" (1981) and "The Thing" (1982). One thing to keep in mind however is that this film is made for the kiddies, so don't expect too much, although there is some action to keep the adults happy for a while.
"Sky High" is a super hero school in the clouds, it's like "Harry Potter" only with super powered kids instead of wizards. Divided into Heroes and sidekicks, the kids learn all manner of subjects relating to their powers. Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is a student at Sky High and it just happens that his parents are The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), the legendary heroes in their own right. Living up to his parent's name is hard for young Will especially when he has no powers of his own and is relegated to sidekick status. Life's hard when your dealing with school pressures, growing up, girls and all that adolescent stuff, but it's even harder when your parents are the marvels that they are. But when an Evil villain threatens his family, Will stands up and proves himself as a hero he always was.
Like I said, the film as some enjoyable moments, it's like mixing a teenage coming of age story with super heroes and for the most part it really does work well, there's enough for the fan boy geek to be happy about and also enough for the kids to enjoy. The problem with this film is the same basic problem faced with most every teenage story to come out since "Sixteen Candles" (1984), they are all entirely predictable, and presenting it in a new way with the super hero element doesn't really go very far, as far as fantasy stuff goes "Harry Potter" managed to get there first except in that case we're talking wizards (The themes are basically the same)...so in a sense "Sky High" tends to feel like a rehashed and remixed concept.
The acting is made-for-TV quality, with Russell hamming it up as the legendary hero, the kids fare much better as they're not as annoying as I had feared they might be. The sore point for me were the dreadful costumes that were too foam-like for my taste, too colorful and a little tacky, but I suppose the filmmakers were after a light approach rather than the gritty realism of a "Batman Begins" (2005) or "X-Men" (2000). At the end of the day this is light popcorn fluff film that can be enjoyed by almost anyone and is certainly worth a spin on a rainy day, just don't expect too much.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 this high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p / 24fps using MPEG-2 compression and just like the recent Blu-rays in which I have had the pleasure of reviewing I'm glad to say the trend continues with an excellent transfer that's sharp and beautiful tto behold. The colors are simply lavish and radiate off the screen, blacks are true and deep with shadow detail remaining consistently good throughout. Skin tones are natural and fine detail is evident within the frame, there's really nothing else I can say about this without sounding like a broken record. Nice work yet again Buena Vista.

Audio

Four audio tracks are included on this release an uncompressed English PCM 5.1 surround track encoded at 48kHz/16-Bit, as well as English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its PCM 5.1 track and much like the image the sound is exceptionally good. The surrounds were aggressive and well balanced, with dialogue clean and clear. The ambient and environmental tracks were subtle and natural, the bass kicks in a few times during the action scenes and shakes the room quite nicely. Overall this is a fine track that is about as reference quality as they come.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has included some of the extras seen on the DVD release which includes an alternate opening as well as two short featurettes, below is a closer look at these supplements.

These extras are included in high-definition 1080p and 1080i.

First up is an alternate opening which runs for 3 minutes 20 seconds and takes us back 20 years when The Commander and Jetstream first encountered the villain Royal Pain. Some of this sequence is included as flashbacks in the film.

Next up we have "Welcome To Sky High" a featurette which runs for 15 minutes 19 seconds, this is the standard EPK style clip which features interviews with the key cast and crew behind-the-scenes of the production. It shows the viewer how much fun it was making the film, the clip doesn't go into any real production detail which would have been nice considering the action and effects that went into the final product, it's worth a look but not repeated viewing unfortunately.

"Breaking Down Walls: The Stunts Of Sky High" is a featurette which runs for 7 minutes, and you guessed it, looks at the stunt work performed for the film as well as the cool gadgets that the crew used on the production, it's presented in much the same way as the previous clip covering the basics and that's about it, really disappointing if you ask me.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: C Overall: B-

 


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