Loaded with wonderful in-jokes, energetic action, and a wonderful break from the crowd of comic book movies flooding the market, Sky High is a fun romp for adults and kids. It’s what this genre needed: a completely original set of heroes doing something out of the ordinary “save the world” gimmick (though Sky High has that, too). This is underrated family filmmaking at its best.
The film chronicles the tough school for superheroes, as young Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) begins his first year at Sky High. As the son of the world’s most prominent superheroes, the expectations on his shoulders are grand, and the messages about growing up are nicely hidden inside the superhero shtick.
Sky High instantly earns bonus points for giving Bruce Campbell extended scenes, but loses them for not giving Kurt Russell (Will’s father) enough. His sarcastic take on the superhero is full of hilarious send-ups of other comic books heroes, and his overreaching ego is planted firmly in his cheek. The dialogue flows naturally even though it’s absurd, but the film sets itself up incredibly well to the point where it all makes sense.
Plot twists are obvious from the start, and no one is going to be surprised when the finale ends up as an all-out melee between good and evil. However, Sky High doesn’t keep delivering action. It deals with the problems and pressures of being different while struggling to succeed. The teenage romance can be grating, but even this is given that special hero touch.
At times, direction can push this into the realm of a TV movie or even a show, but the minor style discrepancies are a small flaw of this sly little movie. This sleeper hit fares better than other Disney live-action family films of recent years such as Herbie, and also carries the wide appeal over to the comic fan. This is a wonderfully funny ride that deserves more exposure than it was given. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
Maybe the fantastic Blu-ray transfer will encourage more people to pick this one up. The bold primary colors are striking, and the wonderful depth created by the black levels give this transfer immense contrast. Sharpness can waver in certain scenes (the introduction of Bruce Campbell’s character), though it immediately corrects itself in the follow-up. The print is clean, and the clarity is beautiful. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Uncompressed audio provides some wonderful use of the surround channels. Characters’ dialogue comes from all available channels, and moves with them. The school’s P.A. system delivers a nice touch to the rear speakers, and the action delivers on most counts. Sadly, the bass is soft and lacking any deep punch. The mix is then flat without impact. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Sparse extras include a funny alternate opening which sets the tone perfectly. It should have been kept. Welcome to Sky High is a basic making of with loads of behind-the-scenes footage. It runs for a little over 15 minutes. Breaking Down the Walls: The Stunts of Sky High is self-explanatory, but the crew discusses their appreciation for doing all they could in camera without going the route of CG. Disney’s standard movie showcase and trailers finish the disc. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]