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.
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.