a critiQal film review Sky High (2005)

Plot: Will Stronghold (Angarano) is just about to enter high school. But, he's not your average freshman: his parents just happen to be the biggest superheroes on the planet, The Commander (Russell) and Jetstream (Preston). Because of his superhero heritage, he doesn't attend just any high school - he is going to Sky High, a high school for future superheroes and their sidekicks. The only problem - he hasn't discovered his super power yet.

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  • ...a light-hearted, slightly cheesy, superhero adventure the whole family will enjoy!

While watching previews recently, we caught a glimpse of a new film coming to DVD called Sky High. The previews made it seem pretty comical, and seemed to almost spoof superhero life, as recent Pixar hit The Incredibles (2004) did so well.

We pretty much forgot about it until we happened to see Sky High on the shelf recently at Blockbuster. We picked it up, hoping it would be worth it, but worried that The Incredibles (2004) had already covered the superhero spoof genre so well pretty much anything would pale in comparison.

All of the actors in Sky High did a great job in their roles. Whether they were big names like Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston, or smaller actors like Lynda “Wonder Woman” (TV) Carter, “Kids In The Hall” (TV) alum Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald and Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead (1981)), or little known actors Danielle Panabaker and Michael Angarano, everyone contributed to the enjoyment of the film. It’s rare to find a film where every actor, major and minor, contributes to the overall film, but Sky High is one of those films.

Kurt Russell gave an enjoyable performance in Sky High as the superheroic The Commander, and really played his role to the hilt. He was able to provoke some comedy from almost every scene he’s in, whether he’s out superheroing or just being Dad to his son – something he hasn’t been able to do since his Big Trouble in Little China (1986) heyday. He outshone Kelly Preston, but she did a decent job of portraying the triple roles of loving wife, mother and superheroine JetStream in the film.

The smaller actors are all fun to watch as well in Sky High. Thankfully, Lynda Carter seems to enjoy poking fun at her old “Wonder Woman” (TV) persona as much as the viewer will enjoy watching her do it. Dave Foley does a great job of portraying his character – an ex-sidekick turned teacher – and is able to give the viewer a great sense of his rather pathetic character. He, as usual, will have most of the audience laughing right along with him as he plays his character, as usual, with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor. Kevin McDonald, while seeming to come across better in films like Lilo & Stitch (2002) where he doesn’t have to show his face, does do a decent job in the few times he’s seen on-screen.

Even the relative unknowns were able to step up and bring their acting talents to bear. Michael Angarano, who apparently has been on-screen quite a bit (according to IMDB), does a great job of fleshing out his character, and pulls off being the prodigal son of two superheroes without forgetting anything about the conflicting emotions that come with a teen beginning high school. He’s great fun to watch as his character evolves throughout the film, and will definitely keep the viewers’ interests high throughout. Thankfully though, Sky High doesn’t even stop there, as even all the more minor characters do their part in helping to make every scene worth watching.

The plot itself does keep spoofing superheroes like The Incredibles (2004) began, but takes it off into an entirely new direction. While The Incredibles (2004) focused on the parents and how they dealt with reality after being superheroes, Sky High focuses on the kids as they began to enter the superhero system.

It’s a great meeting of fantasy with reality, as the viewer watches kids with superpowers make their way through their own version of the school system (similar to the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and its’ sequels, but on a much lighter note). The film keeps the pace moving quickly along, and is able to keep the action and/or special effects coming fast, so the viewer never even has a chance to get bored.

The special effects are all very well done, from showcasing the different powers of each individual to the school itself (which floats along hundreds of feet off the ground) to the interesting mode of transportation the students use to arrive at the school (a flying bus). Each effect seems to have been created perfectly, with no obvious foul-ups (except for the fact the students are able to breathe normally in an open-air school that floats hundreds of feet in the air).

From it’s comic-y beginning to it’s rather cliched ending, Sky High keeps the action and comedy flying fast and furious. This should be a must-see for any superhero fan or anyone with kids, as this is one movie that the whole family truly will enjoy.

While it has been marketed toward kids, any kid-at-heart will enjoy the film as much, if not more, than the younger generation. Rent this one if you want, but my advice is to go out and buy a copy today.

Sky High is one lighthearted, slightly cheesy, adventure that has enough fun for more than one viewing.

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