Studio: Walt Disney
US Rating: G - General Audiences.
Film Length: 117 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles: French and Spanish
Review Date: February 22, 2009
The Film - out of
The musical in Western cinema is a long-cherished tradition. Some of the most magnificent and popular films of the last 100 years have been musicals. Thinking back over the last 60 years to films such as My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music and South Pacific, the genre is replete with wondrous accomplishments. Western Cinema fell out of favor with the musical – or at least western audiences did – but there is a resurgence underway. Films like Chicago and Dreamgirls have shown that adult audiences still have a flame burning for quality musicals. But, truly, it is Disney that kept the pilot light burning through their animated films.
With the machine that High School Musical has become, and with television exercises like Hanna Montana, Disney is staging something of a revolution. No longer are musicals simply the purview of parents and grandparents. With Disney’s sewing of musical seeds for years, a new generation of fans is emerging. The popularity of these ventures has been surprising, but by mixing teen melodrama, high school romance and pop-indulgences with glitzy effervescence, Disney has concocted a potent potion for success and delivered additional commercial viability for musical features. Nothing like the musical greats of the past, but something new.
The student of East High have grown close through two made for cable television films. High School Musical premiered to record viewers on the Disney Channel both here and abroad. With the premiere of High School Musical 2, that record breaking number of viewers was beaten an additional 10 million and the next outing, which would appear in theaters, was quickly greenlit.
For the students we have followed for years, graduation is now fast approaching. We join them toward the end of their senior year when the paths that lay ahead of them are looming fast. This now close knit family of students find themselves contemplating the vast unknown of their futures. And with their paths certain to take them in different directions, they take on the challenge of putting on their last spring musical with the theme of their last days.
High School Musical is a bona fide phenomenon. An unabashed flight of High School fantasy where the fairytale of life takes center stage and the realities of life in school aren’t even afterthoughts. The cast is populated with good looking characters are seem to be extremely smart, talented and adorned with strong fashion senses (though it does produce some inconceivable outfits at times). The two main stars of these films are Zac Efron as Troy, leader of the Wildcats basketball team who now must contemplate going to college to pursue the sport but be far way from his love, Gabrielle, the ultra smart, beautiful girl played by Vanessa Hudgens who herself is contemplating a future at Standford University – but a future that would mean a painful goodbye to Troy. Both are musically talented and play their respective roles quite well, but never beyond their age. Zac Efron in particular doesn’t have the most expressive face, but he proves to be a more complicated ‘hero’ in this film and a likable young man.
The rest of the cast all fill their molds comfortably, with Ashley Tisdale as the ever self-centered and spoiled Sharpay, her twin brother Ryan played by Lucas Grabeel who doesn’t always seem at ease with his sisters wicked ways. Troy’s best friend, Chad is played by Corbin Bleu – another gifted young man who handles the song and dance numbers well and Monique Coleman plays Taylor, a conservative, smart and highly organized young woman. Also in the cast are Olesya Rulin playing the shy Kelsi and, Jemma McKenzie-Brown playing Sharpay’s assistant Tiara. The musical talent that the cast displays is quite strong. Dramatically shaky, but pitch perfect for the film
High School Musical 3 is filled with pumped up, hard punch choreography. It’s loud, exaggerated and preposterous in all the right measures. Sure the songs aren’t particularly distinctive and a lot of the same dance moves make their way into each of the sequences, but its all in good fun. And the musical numbers are can be elaborate at times with what seems like an endless energy. They are bright and boisterous, such as the the Sharpay/Ryan song, “I Want it All”.
Walt Disney presents High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 enhanced for widescreen televisions. This is a bright video presentation with some good, deep blacks and reds. This is a clean image though not always as sharp as it should be. Despite the lack of strong detail at times, especially during the opening musical sequence (16 Minutes), Disney has served up another great looking DVD.
This is a surprisingly front focused audio track. Presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track, the bass is quite deep and you’ll find no distortions or other issues. Use of the surrounds is light, even during the musical sequences. The subwoofer gets pulled in quite a bit and bass is handily explored. But again, use of the surrounds is disappointing.
Deleted Scenes – (7:31) – Eight deleted scenes with an optional introduction from Director Kenny Ortega. Nothing special to be found here. A couple allow other scenes to make a little more sense, however.
Out of Sync: HSM 3 Bloopers – (2:45) – A sequence of flubs different from those that appear over the closing credits.
Song Selection – Jump to any of the 18 song sequences featured in HSM3 with optional ‘Sing Along with the Movie’ feature (onscreen lyrics)
Night of Nights - (7:26) – The cast talk about the awkwardness and fun of the Prom and the song ‘Night of Nights’ that, along with its more complex choreography, was a special number. We also look at the ‘harder than it looks’ Waltz dance number.
It’s All In The Dress – (2:30) – A look at the wardrobe for the Prom night.
Cast Goodbyes – (5:39) – The cast talk about graduating in the film and in real life from the HSM phenomenon. Fans will shed a tear or two for sure.
Digital copy of the movie
Entertainment like the High School Musical line are excellent examples of Walt Disney’s ability to drive life imitating art rather than art imitating life. Commercially to be celebrated, but something that is also a little troublesome. While these films should be taken at face value as fantasy/fairytales – it does so at the expense of diversity. What we see here can aptly be described as a sanitizing of cultural identity. The cast of characters, with rare exception, are presented as a homogenized group – culturally indistinct from each other. This is troublesome mainly given the young, impressionable and still learning target audience who, now more than ever, learn of the world and the glory of diversity from these outlets. This element of the High School Musical films is disappointing and something that should be taken note of to those who will likely continue these films, and others like it.
As it stands, however, High School Musical 3 is a lavish entry in Walt Disney’s library of hopeful fantasies. The world these characters exist in is filled with hope, possibility, truth prevailing, good overcoming and friends and family becoming solid strands in each of their lives.
Filled with fun, exuberance, good intentions, good messages and some great musical numbers, you can tap your toes, raise your hands and get into High School Musical.