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High School Musical (Remix) (2006) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
ImageDisney has a track record of creating numerous successful original TV movies.  The initial film’s success spawns sequels, usually turning into a trilogy.  I must admit, I find several of the original Disney channel movies to be upbeat and fun.  “High School Musical” is the latest in original Disney channel success stories.  In fact, the series was so successful that the third installment of the saga was released to movie theaters.

“High School Musical” also perpetuated its child actors into stardom, another side effect of being in a Disney production.  Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens will forever being known as Troy and Gabriella.  That may cause issues in the advancement of the acting career – note I did not say singing career.  More on that in a bit.

Zac Efron stars as Troy, the star basketball player at a New Mexico high school (which is really located in Utah), with a father that is the head coach of the team.  Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) is the shy, adorable girl with incredible smarts.  Her mother is continually transferred in whatever her job may be.  Her latest transfer lands her and her daughter in New Mexico, at the very same high school as Troy and his gang.  However, Troy and Gabriella have already met.  During winter break, the two of them met at a ski resort in Utah.  The two were randomly picked to sing a karaoke duet on New Year’s Eve at a teenagers’ party.  They stun every with their performance.

Come the start of the spring semester, the two reunite.  Troy goes to his basketball click, while Gabriella tries to find a place to fit in, no longing to be the geeky new girl once again.  Unfortunately, she demonstrates her intelligence and is thus pursued by the science/math club.  However, it is the drama club that draws both Troy and Gabriella.  Still, they resist the temptation so as not to be ridiculed by their respective clicks.

After they befriend the spring musical’s composer, Kelsi (Olesya Rulin), Troy and Gabriella singing one of her compositions, which just so happens to be heard by the drama club professor.  The duo gets their callback.

Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan Evans (Lucas Grabeel) are brothers that win the lead in every school play since kindergarten.  However, with Troy and Gabriella they feel their chance is threatened.  Troy and Gabriella’s clicks team up to break the duo up for reasons of preservation.  Troy is beginning to contribute less to the basketball team, while Gabriella is not preparing for the aptitude contest at school.  Using modern technology, Gabriella hears Troy’s “real” feelings about performing in the musical.  They call off the callbacks, but still don’t revert to their former selves. Their friends reconvene to bring the two back together.  However, it is Troy’s apologies that reunite the couple.  The callbacks are back on.  Not to be outdone, Ryan and Sharpay persuade the drama club teacher to change the callbacks to Friday, which just so happens to be the same date and time as Troy’s championship basketball game and Gabriella’s decathlon.  Using modern technology once again, the gang is able to temporarily sabotage their school events in order to attend the callbacks.  The entire school shows up for their auditions, and they blow the roof off the theater.

So, here is my main issue with the film, aside for its redundancy.  No one in the film can really sing.  There is so much Melodyne and Auto-Tune processing on the vocals that it is super distracting.  Vanessa may be adorable, but let’s face it, looks only get you so far in this world.  The vocal talent is sorely lacking.  Olesya Rulin is the only real talent in the film.  She is a Russian model, dancer and musician.  With this folly, the film is really only suitable for the kids.  Still, even with that, aren’t we training our kids to recognize this as “talent?”  This might explain why there is no music talent left in today’s industry.

Disney presetns us with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode.  The video quality is adequate but nothing spectacular.  It lacks that high-definition polish.  The black levels and contrast are all decent, but the film still lacks an eye-popping image.  The colors are nicely saturated.  Fleshtones are smooth, but sometimes appear to be artificial.  The image boosts nice details at points but is soft, like much high-definition programming.  The film was not intended to be cinematic reference quality.  In fact, much of the film was shot with naturally lighting, which only perpetuates the flat image.  The source is clean and clear.  The image is attractive but not stunning.

The Blu-ray comes treated with an Uncompressed 5.1 PCM audio track, along with the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks in English, French and Spanish.  I was really disappointed with the audio.  I was expecting the surrounds to be lively.  In the end, the surrounds were virtually empty.  Anything that did pop up in the surround channels was smeared.  No localization was possible.  The musical numbers of the film did not contain any more surround presence than the rest of the film.  The LFE channel was decent, but did not fit with the overall mix.  The dialogue is clear and present.  Overall, the sound design is very front heavy.  The audio lacks the envelopment and localization aspects that are present in the later “High School Musical” films.

As per usual, Disney includes a lot of kiddy bonus materials.  There five music videos: “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” “We’re All in This Together,” “Breaking Free Remix,” “We’re All in This Together Remix,” and “Eres Tu.”  There is a Sing-Along track available for the film.  The Blu-ray also contains Dance Along features.  The “Disney Channel Dance-Alongs” featurette has members of the cast teaching the dance moves.  “The Hollywood Premiere” contains material from the DVD-release party for the film.  “A High School Reunion” contains interviews with the cast.  “Bringing It all Together: The Making of ‘High School Musical’” is a standard featurette.  Lastly, there is another dance featurette, “Learning the Moves.”

“High School Musical” was obviously a success in order to spawn two sequels.  However, in my eyes, this first film was not worthy of two sequels.  However, the two sequels are better, story-wise than the first.  The singing is bad all the way through.  The video quality is decent, functioning much like a high-definition cable presentation without the motion/compression artifacts.  The audio track is sorely lacking and disappointing.  The kids will like the film, but other than that, it probably isn’t worth it.  Stick with the sequels, which are also on Blu-ray.

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