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Hannah Montana The Movie (2009) Print E-mail
Monday, 17 August 2009
ImageI probably stand alone amongst the critics in actually liking this movie.  It has routinely received less than two and one half stars from critics since its release.  I for one found it to be entertaining and carefree, things that I find are missing for programming nowadays.  The film didn't do as well at the box office as expected, grossing slightly less than $80 million.  Still, with a spent budget of $30 million, who can really complain?

"Hannah Montana The Movie" is Disney's feature film attempt at the hit Disney Channel TV show, "Hannah Montana."  Much like "High School Musical 3: Senior Year," this film raises its production value.  Hannah Montana is a major pop star that is really the alter ego of Miley Stewart (both played by Miley Cyrus).  Or is it the other way around.  It seems that lately Miley has forgotten who she is and where she has come from, letting Hannah take over everything in her life.

When Miley forgets about her grandmother's birthday in order to go to a New York Awards Show, Miley's father (played by real life dad, Billy Ray Cyrus) tricks her onto a provate jet that is bound for Tennessee.  Naturally, Hannah throws a temper tantrum and refuses to go any further.  The tag line that "Now She Must Choose One," Hannah or Miley, is a bit misleading.  It is Miley's decision as to whether or not she can continue to be both mega pop star and simple schoolgirl at the same time.

To complicate matters further, a sleazy tabloid reporter is out to find Hannah's secret.  When Hannah's best friend, Lilly (Emily Osment) lets slip to the reporter that she is from some town Crowley Meadows, the reporter shows up in Tennessee to expose her.  Also complicating matters is that Miley falls for the cute boy on the farm.

Hannah/Miley's life is now super complicated for anyone of her age and it all comes down to the benefit concert by Hannah Montana to save the town of Crowley Meadows.  I won't spoil the ending, but it is not as bad as people say.  Sure it is cliché, but is has a nice song at the end.

The film is directed by Peter Chelsom, director of one of my other favorite movies of all-time, "Serendipity."  Chelsom does a decent job with drawing performance from the actors.  However, since the script is fairly simple there isn't much in the way hidden meanings.  Everything is straightforward.  Nevertheless, sometimes we need films that don't have to be decrypted or analyzed at every corner.

What makes this film fun is the music.  I am not a fan of the bubblegum, but a few of the songs in this movie were well produced, and made you want to get up and dance.  Sure, there were more bad songs than good songs, but even having one good song surprised me.  The recordings were poor, but the performance was interactive.  While I may be alone among adults to like this, kids will thoroughly enjoy the dance numbers. The Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert that came out in 3-D last year was okay, but I much rather enjoy Miley in her acting career.  She probably has some of the most natural talent for acting and singing as compared to the other Disney Channel stars, but that isn't saying much.

"Hannah Montana The Movie" contains one of the finer video transfers that I have seen in a while.  Disney presents the film in 1080p with an MPEG-4 AVC encode and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  The transfer is impeccably clean.  There is not a scratch or blemish to be found, as to be expected.  The colors are bold and vibrant.  The primary colored chicken coup in the film really pops from the screen.  Contrast and brightness levels are near perfect.  Contrast occasionally flutters a bit.  The black levels are rich and inky, while shadow delineation remains clear.  Details and textures sizzle on the screen.  For the first time in a while they have not been wiped out by enormous amounts of film grain or noise reduction.  Speaking of which, noise reduction and edge enhancement are absent from this transfer.  There is no artifacting either.  There is no question that this Blu-ray transfer is leaps and bounds better than the standard DVD.  Kids will mostly definitely want the eye-popping candy that this Blu-ray presents.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio.  I figured why not, and I broke out my two additional surround back speakers to give the 7.1 a try.  Boy was I disappointed.  Studios, pay close attention to this, the 7.1 audio format does not mean music only.  However, that precisely what Disney did with this track.  Only during the music portions is there any activity in the surround back channels.  Even that activity is almost the same as the surround channels, serving only to blur the separation in the backfield.  There is never any ambience going on in the surround back channels.  That or the ambience is mixed so low that played by at standard calibration level yields nothing in the surround backs.  I am thinking the former.  That being said, the music is not mixed very well.  The vocals are always buried amongst a plethora of production value.  The song mixes themselves are highly over-compressed, as seems to be the standard in today's pop music.  However, in no-music sequences, the dialogue is crystal clear.  SO the production sound is excellent, but the music production, not so much.  While the soundfield is enveloping, it is very muddy.  Discreet musical or non-musical sounds are difficult to pinpoint to specific channels.  The LFE channel is about the only aspect that balanced.  When playing the track back at reference level, the bass is thumping, much better than off any audio CD.  However, as is the case with low frequencies, if not played back at reference level, the bass will quickly disappear, leaving the music feeling empty.  This is especially true of the Hoedown number.  Make sure to crank your system for that song.  The only sequence that came across nicely in the audio track was "The Climb."  It had some dynamics to it, but eventually gets itself lost in the shuffle when all the instrumentation kicks in.  I was more disappointed than not with this audio track, but it is still a good one.

Disney releases "Hannah Montana The Movie" in a 3-disc collection.  The first disc is the Blu-ray of the film as well as bonus materials.  The second disc is a standard DVD copy of the film, as well as some of the bonus materials.  The third disc is the Digital Copy of the film.

On the Blu-ray disc you will find mainly content to entertain the youngsters.  There isn't much in the way of technical information if that is what you are looking for.  First there is an audio commentary with the director.  This is a very laid back track that basically just highlights some behind the scenes information.  The Backstage Disney section contains some entertaining stuff for the younger crowd.  "'I Should Have Gone to Film School'" is a behind the scenes look at the set.  "Find Your Way Back Home" contains footage of the actors giving a tour of their hometowns.  Also in this section is the exclusive part to the Blu-ray, "The Hoedown Throwdown" and "The Dance Experience with the Cast."  These two featurettes teach you have to perform the moves in the Hoedown.  It is entertaining for the kids as well.  There is a section of deleted scenes with introduction by the director.  There are also a few outtakes.  Lastly, there are seven music videos: Billy Ray Cyrus "Back to Tennessee," Hannah Montana "Let's Go Crazy" and "You'll Always Find Your Way Home," Taylor Swift "Crazier," Rascal Flatts "Bless the Broken Road" and Miley Cyrus "The Climb."  The Blu-ray is also BD-Live enabled.

"Hannah Montana The Movie" is certainly not for everyone, however I found it entertaining.  Miley Cyrus is not half bad and a few of the song numbers were good.  If you are looking for a complex story, or a story without any major holes, then stay away from this film.  The video quality is stellar, but the 7.1 audio track leaves you disappointed.  If you have kids then get this one, otherwise maybe just a rent.

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