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Sky High
January 12, 2007

An adorable movie with appealing characters and entertaining visuals.

Sky High is the story of how Will Stronghold learns what heroism means. His parents, Jetstream and the Commander, are the preeminent heroes of their city. They expect great things from him, but as he enters high school, he’s the only kid who hasn’t yet gotten superpowers. He has to come to terms with the idea that he may never get any, an appropriate metaphor for the uncertainties of adolescence.

Sky High cover
Sky High
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His lack lumps him in with the sidekicks, the uncool kids. His best friend, a girl with plant powers, joins them as well, because she doesn’t believe in using her abilities to show off or for violent reasons. (She of course helps save the day with some very cool actions.)

Kelly Preston and Kurt Russell do an amazing job as superheroes. They’re everything they should be, but not too stuffy or two-dimensional. At one point, KC said, “I like the way that he blusters and she goes ahead and gets everything done.” Also great are Bruce Campbell as the school’s Coach, Linda Carter as the principal, and Dave Foley as a former sidekick turned teacher. It’s an impressive cast, and the movie makes the most of it.

In one of the bonus features, someone says, “All the adults in this movie are insane.” And so they are. If a kid doesn’t want to show his powers to the coach during the sorting session, well, I don’t want to spoil it, but I gasped, in a good way. That environment achieves the desired result: the kids learn to work together to save the day when the adults are incapacitated (in an amusing way).

The overall story is predictable, reinforcing doing the right thing and the importance of family and trying hard even in the face of overwhelming odds, but the plot twists along the way are surprising and involving. The special effects are terrific, too. This is one of the best portrayal of superpowers I’ve seen. The flamethrower is particularly good; he looked as if his hands were really on fire.

One kid is Plastic Man, another the Flash, and the cheerleading squad is made up of only one girl, a kind of Multiple Maid. There’s even a purple-themed girl named Magenta. She’s a shapeshifter, but she can only change into a guinea pig. The set pieces include a “Save the Citizen” competition and amusing, powered twists on the typical high school scenes of the first day of school and the big parent-less party. The effects add a sense of wonder to the story, enhancing it instead of trying to substitute for it or distracting from it.

The soundtrack added a good deal, with familiar (at least to me) 80s tunes redone by current bands. There are three Easter eggs on the disc, by the way, one of which is a documentary focusing on training the guinea pigs. Funny! I got a lot of entertainment out of watching this family film. It’s well worth a viewing for superhero fans, with lots of callbacks. For instance, the most popular girl in school is named Gwen Grayson, two names I think must have been chosen on purpose. I wish it would become a TV show. I’d watch it regularly.

9 Responses  
Willow writes:  

Huh, I was so unimpressed after waiting so long to watch it – I think I got sick or something the weekend I was supposed to see it in theaters – that I put in back in its Netflix envelope and mailed it off the next day without even looking at the extras. And I’m an extras girl. The best thing about DVDs to me is getting to see ‘the making of’ and anything else interesting they have to share; from costume design and set pieces to bloopers.

It felt too predictable. I knew who everyone was and what was going to happen the moment I met each character. I even knew what was going to happen to the bus driver. I ended up feeling it was something I might reccomend to my little brothers and sister (Ages 12-6) but it wasn’t anything else I’d want to see again.

Maybe after reading Invincible and Runaways it just seemed like a poor cousin. The only impressive thing I walked away with was ‘Realtors, it is the perfect job’.

 
Dan Coyle writes:  

I enjoyed this far, far more than I thought I would- there were nice comic touches- IIRC, Keiron Dwyer drew the comic pages used during the credits.

I also thought while the villain wore a huge flashing neon sign over their head, the motivations and the situation the villain went through were fascinating, and if I were to do a series based on the show, that would be the character I’d focus on (a creative lawyer would be able to get the villain out of jail pretty easily, given the circumstances).

 
Jim Kosmicki writes:  

My kids really liked this movie, and I found it enjoyable as well. yes, the plot was predictable, but it IS a superhero movie. It feels like a good, goofy 70’s comic. Once you’ve read enough comics, you pretty much know what’s going to happen as soon as you read the solicitation copy or even see the cover. the experience is in HOW they use those tropes. and the film-makers used them effectively. it’s not high art, but it is solid entertainment. and growing up in the 70’s seeing Kurt Russell as the aging superhero who wants to have a legacy had some resonance — after all, he was Dexter Reilly in all those Disney films, not to mention Snake Plissken.

the similar movie that I haven’t seen yet is Zoom — I have some hopes for it simply based on it looking similar to GalaxyQuest in the previews. When Tim Allen is on, he can be an effective type.

 
Johanna writes:  

Jim, I found myself wondering the same thing, whether Zoom was as enjoyable. The reviews suggest not.

 
Chad Grayson writes:  

Zoom was, possibly, the worst super-hero movie ever made. It had some fun concepts, but the writing was atrocious. My whole family enjoyed Sky High. My daughter still gets it out once in a while to watch. I appreciate, for her sake, that the teen girl characters are attractive without being cheesecake.

 
Evan Waters writes:  

I saw this on a whim during its run and was pleasantly surprised. It helps that almost every adult in the cast is someone awesome like Russell or Preston or Dave Foley or Bruce Campbell or Lynda Carter. And the kids hold their own, too.

 
kira writes:  

This movie had nothing interesting, but i think kids might like it! yay!

 
Liberty Vocational Volume 1: Will Supervillains Be on the Final? » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[...] if familiar: The idea of a school for young potential superheroes is well-done in stories like Sky High and PS238. This version puts a manga-influenced spin on the idea, in both characters and [...]

 
V Is for Villain » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] Is for Villain is Sky High with a twist and more politics, basically. To make up for the lack of images that a movie or comic […]

 
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