Published Aug 01, 2005As Batman Begins and Fantastic Four have already proven in the past couple months, this summer belongs to superheroes. Sky High, which arrives riding the coattails of these two summer comic book blockbusters, is packed with enough punch to keep the box office momentum going.
Directed by Mike Mitchell (whose lousy track record includes Deuce Bigalow and Surviving Christmas), Sky High is the coming-of-age tale focusing of Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), the son of two superheroes - the Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston) - who begins hero training at the titular school. After a slow period of unsuccessfully attempting to discover his powers, Will finds himself cast into the company of the "sidekicks" by the brash Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell) until a fight with his supposed nemesis reveals his powerful strength, gaining a new batch of friends and joining the "hero" class. When one of the Commander's old foes comes storming back with a plan to destroy the school and turn the heroes into villains, Will and his sidekick friends are forced to fight back, revealing just what it takes to be a true hero.
Sky High is hardly an original concept; in fact, it borrows many ideas and themes from recent successes in the same market. Harry Potter's influence is prevalent throughout the film, as Will is placed in the same god-like position at school, and undergoes a blatant class sorting ritual led by Campbell, minus a talking hat. The Incredibles is another obvious reference, with its super-family concept, but most evident is the film's similarities to the comic Ps238, which uses the exact same idea: a school for children with "meta-human abilities."
However, like Spy Kids, this is a film for adolescents, and Mitchell has enough walloping action and light-hearted comedy to distract the adults who will no doubt pick out its imitations. Despite the poorly constructed costumes of the Commander and Jetstream (think chiselled fibreglass covered in airbrushed paint), the look of the film holds up nicely, including its heavy reliance on special effects that manage to avoid drowning in CGI mush.
The comedy plays it safe, which may cause some eyes to roll (this is Disney, after all), but thanks to the mini Kids in the Hall reunion featuring Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley as teachers, "support" is given when needed.
Featuring an interesting concept that will be new to most, Sky High manages to finally add a winner to Mitchell's dreary film directorial portfolio. (Disney/Buena Vista)