When super hero movies are mentioned these days, there may be a weary look on the faces of many, especially parents, who are expected to take the kids to watch them. Many of the films that have come out of late, maybe apart from The Incredibles, have been different from what we have grown up expecting from the genre. So probably, Sky High should help resurrect the trust the people had in these movies.
Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), is the son of the greatest super heroes in the world, The Commander and Jetsteam (Kurt Russel and Kelly Preston) and there are a lot of expectations; from his parents and from the world around. He must surely be the ultimate hero, given his father’s super strength and his mother’s flying ability.
But high school comes and Will has not discovered what his real powers are. By the age of fourteen, every kid from a super hero home knows what they can do. What makes it worse is that while many other kids have only one parent as the strong one, Will has two of the best in the world.
Sky High is the new school where the fresher, Will must learn to relate with a whole new set of friends (and foes). Will is first bundled with the nerds or sidekicks, the guys who have lousy powers or (in Will’s case), don’t know their powers. A cafeteria brawl with his bitterest enemy, Warren Peace (Steven Strait) unleashes his real strength. Suddenly, he is not a side kick any more. He is at once one of the most popular kids.
Meanwhile, as this self discovery is happening, there are forces watching Will and his parents, bad guys who have an axe to grind and they want to take a decisive revenge. Also, meanwhile, Will is falling for the wrong girl and ignoring the right girl, who has been right in front of him the whole time.
From the beginning, one gets the sense that they have not come to watch a film in the line of Sideways or The Girl with the Pearl Earring. The cartoonish beginning and the way The Commander and Jetstream dispense of the huge robot that has been terrorising the city will put you in your place. Even Russel seems to be finding it hard to keep the smirk off his face as he goes through the motions.
The costumes in the film (along with the music) are pure 1980s. The only thing they left was probably the hair styles. The super hero capes are ugly, that’s true. Probably, Batman and Spiderman would have a field day laughing at Kurt Russel in that bulky thing he has on. And the colours…okay, this is a film for children.
The allusions to other films are numerous but maybe we, as Ugandans, will mostly see Power Rangers on the silver screen. They even have the annoying sidekick to the main villain, snort and high pitched laughter to boot.
Sky High pushes you back into the Elegant Eighties, yet the story is as fresh as can be. The big theme True, from Spandau Ballet and Everybody Wants to Rule the World got sections of the audience humming, probably thinking of those days long gone.
The young cast is good. They handle their roles well and probably understand what is at stake. Angarano and Strait seem to have a future in the movies. They will be household names before long. It is Kelly Preston who does not really do justice to her role. As a mother, she does not seem really concerned about her son’s insecurities but maybe, that’s what superhero mums are about. This film could start you off on a great week.