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Welcome to Sky High
‘Sky High’ is an amazing superhero comedy family film from Disney!
I love ‘Sky High’! I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this after watching it at the cinemas! It’s one of my favourite movies and is certainly a charming, delightful film on the superhero genre. The film stars Michael Angarano with Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Danielle Panabaker and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
The film ‘Sky High’ is about a young boy named Will Stronghold, who is apparently the son of two world-famous superheroes called the Commander and Jestream. Wanting to follow in his family’s footsteps, Will attends the school Sky High – academy for the gifted, suspended ‘high’ up in the ‘sky’!
But Will has a problem. He doesn’t have any super powers of his own. So he’s allocated to the ‘sidekick’ placement of the school (or as politely termed, ‘Hero Support’) as opposed to the ‘hero’ placement. Can Will Stronghold be able to prove he is more than a sidekick and become a real hero?
This film has a mix of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘X-Men’ in it. It is a high school film about kids who are training to be superheroes. At first glance, the film’s colourful and hard to take seriously. But this comedy film deals with character drama and it’s easy to relate to about what goes on at high school.
I’ve had experiences of being bullied; having scary teachers and going through the hormones and emotions of first crushes on girls at high school. I could relate to Will Stronghold. Even though I didn’t get super powers or have amazing adventures, the school situation is really easy to relate to.
Michael Angarano stars as Will Stronghold, the 14-year old son and heir of the Commander and Jetstream. I really liked Michael’s performance as Will, since he delivers a believable and easy-to-relate-to interpretation of this young boy who wants to become a superhero when he is growing up.
Will Stronghold has certain elements of Peter Parker from ‘Spider-Man’, as he’s put under a lot of pressure and goes through what life is like at high school in the ‘sidekick’ section. When Will does have his super powers, he learns the true meaning of being a hero and what his friends mean to him.
Kurt Russell stars as the Commander/Steve Stronghold, Will’s dad. Kurt is well known for big action movies. This is the first time I’ve seen Kurt in this superhero movie. I really enjoyed his performance as the Commander, bringing such a heroic interpretation that blends comedy in it at the same time.
The Commander wears a blue and red superhero suit and has superhuman strength. As Steve Stronghold, he and his wife Josie are estate agents. He wants Will to be a superhero just like him and is pleased that he’s going to Sky High. Steve is unaware that Will doesn’t have any powers of his own
Kelly Preston stars as Jetstream/Josie Stronghold, Will’s mom. I really like Kelly who’s lovely in this movie. Jetstream can fly across various distances at supersonic speed and is good in hand-to-hand combat. As Josie Stronghold, she’s an estate agent like her husband and she wants the best of Will.
Josie isn’t desperate for Will to have his super powers like his Dad is. I liked it when Josie is motherly towards Will and found that scene funny when she and Steve are discussing Will not having powers. I liked that scene between Josie and Will, when she encourages him to learn from his mistakes in life.
Danielle Panabaker stars as Layla, Will’s best friend at school. I enjoyed seeing Danielle as Layla in this movie. Layla is a sweet, red-haired girl who’s been best friends with Will for a long time. She goes to Sky High with him, as she has the power to control plant life and happens to be a vegetarian.
Deep down, Layla has a crush on Will since they were kids. But he’s barely noticed her. Layla is the one who encourages Will to tell his Dad and comforts him when he’s down about not having any powers. Layla chooses to be a ‘sidekick’, due to her pacifist beliefs and dislike for the school system.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as Gwen Grayson, a potential love interest for Will at Sky High. I love seeing Mary as Gwen in this and she’s gone on to be a sterling success from doing ‘Sky High’. Gwen is a senior at Sky High school and she is a technopath, since she can control technology with her mind.
Will has a crush on Gwen when he first meets her and she gets to be his personal tutor when he joins the ‘hero’ class. Although Gwen is pretty-looking, she also has a dark side to her character and she schemes standing in between Will and his ‘sidekick’ friends as well as his relationship with Layla.
Steve Strait stars as Warren Peace, Will’s potential arch-enemy at Sky High. This happens to be Steve’s first movie before he went on into a rock singing career. Steve is brilliant as Warren Peace, who is the son of Baron Battle, a supervillain that Will’s father, the Commander, had put into prison.
Warren Peace considers Will as his enemy because of his father in jail. He has the power of pyrokinesis, as he can throw fire balls from his hands. Although a seemingly dark character at first, he eventually gets to be likeable and he also becomes friends with Will and Layla at the film’s climax.
Will has three other friends who become ‘sidekicks’ at Sky High. They are Nicholas Braun as Zach, who has the ability to make his body glow in the dark; Dee Jay Daniels as Ethan, who has the ability to turn into a pool of orange slime; and Kelly Vitz as Majenta, who can shape-shift into a guinea pig.
The teachers at Sky High are as follows. There’s Dave Foley as Mr Boy/All-American Boy; Kevin McDonald as Professor Medula, Bruce Campbell (who I’ve seen in the original ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy) as Coach Boomer and Lynda Carter (well known as ‘Wonder Woman’ in the 70s) as Principal Powers.
The bullies at Sky High are as follows. There’s Jake Sandvig as Lash and Will Harris as Speed. These two are like Bulk and Skull characters from ‘Power Rangers’ with Lash being Skull and Speed being Bulk. There’s also Malika and Khadijah Haqq as Penny, a cheerleader at Sky High who hates sidekicks.
There’s Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson, Bus Driver. Ron is the school bus driver that takes the kids to Sky High. He doesn’t drive any ordinary bus though. Ron drives a super-bus that can take off and fly into the sky which gets the kids to Sky High. Ron is this kind, good-hearted fellow that warms to Will.
Cloris Leachman also makes an appearance in ‘Sky High’ (who I’ve seen in ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’) as Nurse Spex. She’s a kind, elderly, eccentric lady who looks after Will when he’s injured during Power Placement by Coach Boomer. She has X-ray vision when she is examining Will’s chest.
The movie is reasonably well directed by Mike Mitchell and produced by Andrew Gunn. I really enjoyed the action scenes, such as the fight scenes in the cafeteria between Will Stronghold and Warren Peace or the ‘Save the Citizen’ sequence in the gym. The stunt work is exceptionally good.
The set designs are pretty good and I liked the location used in the movie of Sky High. The exterior shots of Sky High were actually filmed at Oviatt Library at California State University in Northridge. Seeing the school on the outside and the inside feels sunny and it suits appropriately for a kid’s film.
The costume design is interesting. Will wears colours of blue, red and white in the clothes he wears, whilst Layla wears green; Gwen wears pink; Warren wears black, Zach wears yellow; Ethan wears orange; Majenta wears purple, etc. This has an almost ‘Power Rangers’ feel to the costume design.
The special effects are equally interesting. They’re not as great as the special effects in superhero movies we have today such as the ‘Spider-Man’ films and ‘The Avengers’ films. The CGI effects are sometimes dodgy and cheap looking, especially when Will’s punching a hole in the floor of the gym.
I enjoyed this kid’s superhero movie from Disney and couldn’t wait to get the DVD after watching it. I hoped there would be a sequel of ‘Sky High’ and that I would get to go and see it. Sadly there’s been no ‘Sky High 2’ from Disney yet. I hope there will be a sequel where Will Stronghold fights Ticranium and Exo’s Bug Bot army.
The DVD bonus features are as follows. There’s an ‘Alternative Opening’ to the ‘Sky High’ movie that could be seen as a prologue; some ‘Super Bloopers’ of the movie and ‘Music & More’ which contains a music video of Bowling for Soup’s ‘I’ll Melt With You’ song which was sung at the end of the movie. There’s also the ‘Backstage Disney’ section which contains two behind-the-scenes featurettes. There’s ‘Welcome to Sky High’ which is a general behind-the-scenes look of the movie featuring interviews with cast and crew. And there’s ‘Breaking Down Walls: The Stunts of Sky High’ featurette. There are also some Easter Eggs to carefully look out for on this DVD of ‘Sky High’. I’m not sure I found all of them yet. There are some ‘Sneak Peaks’ of some Disney films shown at the beginning as well as some extra ones on the DVD menu. I like some of the DVD menus including the main menu.
The movie has been released on Blu-ray lately, which I was pleased about. I hope ‘Sky High’ gets revisited and has an anniversary special edition DVD as it deserves more focus and a look back on the making of the movie in terms of story and character and some proper cast and crew interviews.
‘Sky High’ is a great children’s superhero film and one I could easily relate to, recollecting my high school days when I was young. I loved watching the adventures of Will Stronghold and his friends battling against evil. I must have seen this movie about umpteen times and never have I found it boring.
This movie got chosen to be shown on one day over Christmas Eve in 2008 on BBC1. I remember enjoying watching ‘Sky High’ that Christmas Eve when it was shown. I highly recommend this film to get you in a good-feel mood. If you love superheroes like I do, then you’re bound to enjoy this film!
‘Sky High’ rating – 10/10
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