" You did it without thinking, whcih leads me to believe you could have a career in marketing. "
— Danny DeVito, The Big Kahuna

MRQE Top Critic

Straight To Hell Returns

Post-Repo Man cult favorite returns with improved special effects —John Adams (review...)

Alex Cox returns... Straight to Hell

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Sky High is set in a world where superheroes and villains are common among society. The film focuses solely around characters who have super powers, and although ridiculous at times, this family-fun adventure can only be described as kick ass.

Super Cool

What to do when your parents are superheroes
What to do when your parents are superheroes

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), son of the two greatest superheroes this world has ever seen (played by Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston), is starting his first day of school at Sky High. This high school floats above the clouds and has a curriculum for students with various super powers. Poor Will doesn’t have his powers yet, and since his parents are so famous, has quite a reputation to uphold.

The school is something to behold; frustrating teen angst problems of “jocks” and “losers” are replaced with “heros” and “sidekicks”, while classwork consists of building death rays and answering questions like “Our hero flies north going 300 MPH for 15 minutes, while the arch villain is tunneling south at 200 MPH for 10 minutes, assuming the hero has ex-ray vision, how long would it take...” And just when you think things couldn’t be any cooler, Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness) shows up as Coach Boomer, the gym teacher, and calls everyone a bunch of “whiner babies.”

Gym class, irrefutably the most bad-ass scene in the film, features a endurance test called “Save the Citizen”, where a pair of students battle as heroes against two other students marked villains. The heroes have three minutes to save a mannequin who is slowly being lowered into spinning spikes, while the villains are on the defensive. As two teachers watch, one of them remarks, “Remember when we used to use real citizens?”

The film mostly focuses around the unique school and our protagonist as he learns to cope with the everyday hassles of being a super kid. When his parents are captured by an old arch nemesis, he must step up and show that he can save the day.

Saving the Day

The film does boast some of the best special effects I’ve seen Disney produce, but uses them lightly. Computer graphics, especially when overdone, can be quite a distraction to the viewer and take away from the story at hand. The script is well done; simple enough for kids to understand, but not childish enough to bore adults.

My biggest complaint is the lack of kryptonite. Many of the characters walk away from injuries, like being tossed at a cement wall going 30 miles per hour, without even a bruise. All of the super kids seem to be invincible, no matter what their power is. So ultimately, where’s the threat?

Also note the psychological undertones of the Oedipal complex thrown about, particularly between Will and his mother. Such implications are subtle, but if you look hard enough, they are surely there.

Bonus Features

The Alternate Opening of the film shows a battle between Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston and their arch villain. In the film, this event is seen as a flashback, but was originally intended to be the opener. Although giving us more background information, the scene would have been too much for the audience too soon. It was ultimately a wise decision to be move it.

Then there are the Super Bloopers, a blooper reel, which is something that I’ve always despised in DVDs. This feature is nothing more than the actors messing up their lines and laughing hysterically at each other.

There is a music video for the song I Melt With You, performed by the pop-punk band Bowling for Soup. The song was originally written by the Cure, but has been unabashedly covered for an audience of 13 year old screaming girls. The video shows clips from the film and has the band playing on a stage with super powers of their own.

The Behind the Scenes portion of the DVD gives us an in-depth look at the making of the film. There are many interviews with the cast and crew, mostly focusing around director Mike Mitchell. The process of creating the stunts and special effects are the most interesting part of this featurette.