High School Musical 2 (Extended Edition) - BRD
(Kenny Ortega, 2007)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (USA)
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Feature film: 1080p
English 5.1 Uncompressed (48kHz/24-bit)
English, French, Spanish DD 5.1 Surround
English SDH, French & Spanish
• High School Karaoke
• Sing Along Feature
• Rehearsal Cam
• Music Videos
Standard Blu-ray case:
1 disc: 25 GB single layer
Release Date: December 11, 2007
High School Musical 2~ Comment
Watching High School Musical 2 was something of an education for me. Until now I was totally unaware that there were movies out there made since 1960 – and damned popular ones – that deserve a rating lower than "G". Of course I would much rather my tweenage children watch movies like HSM2 than say Friday the 13th, Parts 1-25. If only there were the slightest compelling dramatic tension present. Even comedies have tension. I think there are good intentions here: after all, to be seduced by wealth and an easy path to a successful career ought to present some worry if it means the loss of one's girlfriend.
The problems here are two, and to my mind they are unintentionally and irreconcilably in conflict with each other: The first is that the villain (played by Ashley Tisdale, channeling Paris Hilton) is so obvious in her attempts to snare our hero (Zac Efron, channeling David Cassidy) away from his lady love (Vanessa Hudgens, channeling Bambi's friend, Flower) that only a complete dunce could fall for her schemes. The other is that, despite her palpable narcissism, Tisdale's Sharpay Evans is far more interesting than her counterpart, Gabriella Montez – and long before the end of the movie I was routing for Sharpay's team – or, at least, her brother (Lucas Grabell, channeling Jim Carrey – and very nicely, I might add. Loved his matching lipstick).
Is it possible to watch High School Musical 2 and not think of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musicals? Is it possible to watch High School Musical 2 and not long for them? I thought of rambling on about this notion, but tabled the idea out of respect for the dead and my readers. Of course, the inspiration (if that's not giving HSM more credit than it deserves) is Grease - but without the sex, wit, talent, songs, or effort. Grease, of course, was targeted for an entirely different audience: one that could enjoy poking fun at Sandra Dee, whose persona would be a goddess to HSM if they had a long enough memory to have thought of it.
I have to admit that the dance numbers here are all well staged and executed: but there's a precision to it all that's just a little scary. All the numbers are worked somewhat self-consciously into the plot, and the big number on the baseball field makes a stab at dealing with race relations in a clever way. It's all clean fun, if not a little too squeaky to convince dramatically, even for its target audience – but, then, my guess is that this is not Disney's intention.
The first HSM aired on the Disney channel in 2006, and the sequel, which originally aired just this past August – is much the same, only more calculatingly so, with most of the same cast we have come to know and love so well. The "Extended Cut", by my calculations, is about 13 minutes longer than the concurrently released HSM Two-Disc Remix Edition on SD, whose main raison d'etre is the musical number that Troy and Sharpay rehearse, but never perform. According to Disney's press release, "the premier of High School Musical 2 now stands as the most watched cable telecast of all time . . . two-thirds of all Kids 6-11 and Tweens 9-14 watching television tuned in to watch High School Musical 2" and "The High School Musical 2 soundtrack rewrote history with its spectacular debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, a first for a television movie soundtrack" – which speaks volumes about what I don't know about what's up.
High School Musical 2 ~ The Score Card
The Movie : 5
The kids at East High School (filmed in part, by the way, at the school of the same name in Salt Lake City) are counting the seconds for the beginning of summer break, as the clock ticks reluctantly away. Troy Bolton, the most popular boy in school, and with the bluest eyes imaginable, has confessed his intentions to the lovely Gabriella Montez. But Sharpay Evans, the richest girl in school, will have none of this and has other plans for Troy. Being a member of a swank country club (also in Utah), she gets the manager to hire Troy for the summer, where she can have him all to herself. Troy innocently haggles with said manager for most of his friends to have jobs there as well, so when Troy shows up with half his class in tow, she is nonplussed, but not unbowed. First she has the manager make life impossible so that his friends will quit (I didn't quite catch the logic there), and then brings in her father by way of his private plane to dazzle Troy with the prospect of a career in the money. Still not satisfied, Sharpay insists Troy join the Sharpettes as part of the Midsummer Night's Talent Show.
Image : 8 (8/9)
The score of 8 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs. The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre. In this case, the movie was originally made for TV, but we won't let a little thing like that stop me.
The colors are VIVID – obviously intentional as we can conclude by the overall color scheme. There is a tendency for skin tones to look like a Coppertone commercial, but being intentional, I think we're supposed to see this as part-wholesome, part-wow! NOT. There is also a subtle, but perceptible fuzz that covers the image at all times. Otherwise it would probably be consistently sharpay.
Audio & Music : 7/6
HSM2 is, after all, a musical, so we expect songs and dances –and we get them in every possible location: in the hallways, on the baseball field, in the kitchen, and by the pool. So, for more reasons than usual, these numbers have to be pre-recorded. The lip-synching is good, but the resulting sound is a deadly two-dimensional techno that demonstrates the evils of consistency – which criticism can just as well be held against the songs themselves, which are monotonously white bread.
Operations : 9
Here we have a picture-in-picture menu, so that the movie goes right along as a large thumbnail as we sort out other scenes or features. Makes sense, especially considering the target audience.
Extras : 5
Not much here, though what there is will please the kids: a karaoke number, a couple of music videos, and an on-screen sing-along with the lyrics right where we can see 'em. There's the usual Bloopers reel, and most interesting – to me, anyway – some rehearsal footage in sync with the movie.
As you might guess from the score I think this Blu-ray delivers the goods for its intended audience and cares not a fig for anyone else. I guess this is why God gave us Pixar and Miyazaki.
December 9th, 2007
Enter the Dragon