Disney's Super Heroes our First Class
To be honest I like Super Hero movies but I have grown tired of the constant bombardment of super hero movies and comic book adaptations which have dominated cinema in the last few years. Maybe it's because having grown up watching "Superman" with Christopher Reeve that I prefer the more light hearted super hero movies and so find this current influx to be too serious. And so for those like me who prefer the more jokey natured super hero movies there is Disney's "Sky High" a fun movie made for children but just as much fun for adults about a super hero high school up in the clouds where super hero kids go and in particular Will Stronghold the son of the greatest super heroes of all time. It's all very simple, very obvious and basically one giant nod to other super hero movies but it is also so much fun with plenty of humour for children but also various super hero in-jokes for adults to enjoy.
As the son of the World's greatest super heroes The Commander (Kurt Russell - 3000 Miles to Graceland) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston) there is a lot of expectation for Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano - Seabiscuit) to follow suit and become the next saviour of the world. But for Will he has a more pressing concern as it is his first day as Sky High, a special school for super hero kids and as yet he doesn't know what his super power is and with no super power he will be a sidekick. But as for any teenager starting a new school there are more issues for young Will to face from bullies to new friendships and old friends being left alone as well as an evil genius to contend with.
Like so many super hero movies "Sky High" serves us up a couple of storylines, if you like the main one about Will Stronghold going to Sky High with no super powers and dealing with various generic teenage issues and then the obligatory evil genius/ bad guy storyline. It's almost as if "Sky High" was made with plans for a sequel as it follows the same construction of so many other first super hero movies which have gone on to become trilogies with the introduction to all the characters and then a tagged on bit of action. And in many ways it's a shame there hasn't been a sequel because this is a surprising good movie.
What makes "Sky High" so good is not so much the storylines about Will's issues with not having a super power and being super hero support and then the battle against The Commander's nemesis Royal Pain but the humour of it all. For younger audiences who watch will love the various references to modern super hero movies such as a fight scene in the dining room which sees Will pick up a tray in a reference to "Spider Man". And to be honest they will probably enjoy the whole aspect of teens going to a special super hero school which is less "X-Men" and more "Harry Potter", in fact several parts of the movie remind me of Harry Potter from the special classes, the quirky teachers as well as the scene where the new kids are separated in to Super Heroes and side kicks.
Whilst there is a lot of fun going on in "Sky High" for children there is just as much fun for adults and to be honest the whole "Harry Potter" styling is surprisingly appealing. But it is also the subtle and unsubtle super hero in jokes which will have adults smiling at as much as children. From the casting of Lynda Carter (aka Wonder Woman) as the school principal through to the way the no entry sign folds down on the bus route in a 60s Batman style it is all these things both little and large which makes this such a well rounded movie for young and old alike.
Now whilst Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as The Commander and Jetsream are the movies big names and to be honest look brilliant in their super hero outfits "Sky High" is all about the young actors and are a well cast bunch. Every single one of them be it Michael Angarano as Will, Danielle Panabaker as his best friend Layla, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwen Grayson or Steven Strait as the amusingly named Warren Peace are just brilliant in their parts. And they are brilliant because they come across as having fun, almost normal kids who just happen to have super powers. It's this reason, the lightness and fun of there characters which rubs off on you, well that and all the in jokes.
"Sky High" is by no means perfect, a few special effects such as the kid who turns into some form of stone monster look shaky but these minor issues never spoil your enjoyment. In fact some of those moments which don't quite work end up making it even more fun because it stops it from ever becoming too polished and serious.
What this all boils down to is that "Sky High" is simply a fun movie which may have been made for children but is as much fun for adults. From the casting through to the various in jokes and references it simply works and there is never a dull moment. It's just a shame that they never made a "Sky High 2" because it is such a good movie that can be watched time and again without it ever becoming boring.