Sunday, October 16, 2005

Movie Review: Sky High

Welcome to the second of my movie reviews.

I took my four year old son, Zak, to see this latest super-hero film today. I'm letting you know that because it probably effected by perception of the film (y'know...missing key scenes while I tell him to sit down and stop whinging about being hungry...).

The film stars eighteen year old Michael Angarano as fourteen year old Will Stronghold. Okay, why the reference to his age? There has been a lot of talk in the press about the possible need to recast the Harry Potter movies because the actors playing the kids will get "too old." At worst we're going to end up with a twenty year old Dan Radcliffe playing a seventeen year old Harry Potter (see...the press don't seem to get that Harry is actually supposed to be a year older in each book/film). I figure a twenty year old playing a seventeen year old is fairly passable. In this film we have a group of eighteen and nineteen year olds playing fourteen year olds...and one girl that the main character actually dates in the movie is played by a twenty one year old! Okay....that character's supposed to be in the year above...but a twenty one year old playing a fifteen year old girl??

I will NEVER understand Hollywood's obcession with getting people in their twenties to play teenagers. Mellissa Joan Hart, TV's Sabrina the Teenage Witch is the SAME AGE AS ME! Okay, I know they stopped making that show a while back...but I stopped being a teenager even longer ago. (And, yes, I did find out MJH's age just so I could prove to myself that my fancying her wasn't so creepy after all...). The maker's of the Harry Potter films have been extremely brave by casting young actors that are the same age as their characters, and I think they've proved that it works very well.

Ok, ok, rant over, is the film actually any good? The good news is that it's great, and the even better news is that because of the stupid age/casting thing the cute girls in it are 100% legal so, guys, you needn't feel so wrong for thinking they're hot Twisted Evil

Back to the movie... The film stars Michael Angarano as Will Stronghold, the son of the world's two greatest Super Heroes, The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston). Will, along with his best friend Layla (the extremely cute Danielle Panabaker) are just starting out at Sky High, the school for the children of super heros...where they will be sorted into two categories, Hero and Hero-Support (a PC term for sidekick). The problem is that Will has no powers and so is assigned to the Hero-Support stream (which is both embarassing and disappointing for his parents who were hoping he would be joining them in their little super team). Will's powers do eventually kick in, but not before he makes friends with a motly group of "geeks" in sidekick classes. He gets moved to the Hero stream after his powers emerge where he attracts the attentions of school "babe" Gwen. This leads to an inevitable betrayal of his old friends, particularly Layla, who is secretely in love with him. Add to this the fact that Will's dad has put his fellow student bad-boy Warren Peace's dad in triple life imprisonment and that Gwen is really...but...wait...let's not give too much away.

The movie could have been truly awful, but a strong cast and a witty script save it. Steven Strait is particularly good as Will's nemesis, Warren Peace. That the supporting cast includes Bruce Campbell can never be a bad thing. The one thing I didn't particularly buy was that Will would give Gwen a second look when Layla is about a million times hotter than she is.

Clearly the films writers have understood that the real reason people love super-hero comics is because of the soap opera style relationships between the characters. The super-heroics really take a back seat to what is pretty much a standard teen movie plot (but I love teen movies too).

There is, it must be said, very little that's original here. Every super power is lifted straight off the pages of a Marvel or DC comic book, and the general concept has been explored again and again in books like The New Mutants, Generation X and Academy X. But who cares? It's still a great movie, with super heros and cute girls!

I'll finish up with a summary of my four year olds comments on the movie: "I liked the fighting and I liked the bit where they all got turned into babies."

He's not into girls yet. It's not a bad thing.

Rating: 7/10

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