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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

High School Musical (Remix) [Blu-ray]

 

(Kenny Ortega, 2006)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Disney Channel

Blu-ray: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 98 min.

Chapters: 12

Size: 50 GB

Case: Locking Blu-ray case

Release date: February 17, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC

 

Audio:

English 5.1 Uncompressed (48kHz/24-bit). English, French, Spanish DD 5.1 Surround

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, French, Spanish, Swedish & more

 

Extras:

• Bringing It All Together: The Making of HSM (8:43)

• Sing Along with the Movie

• Disney Channel Dance Alongs (16:36)

• High School Reunion (5:51)

• Five Music Videos (13:57)

• Hollywood Premier (2:23)

• Learning the Moves (4:07)

 

 

The Film: 5
The first High School Musical to see the light of was its sequel, High School Musical 2 – the one that takes place at a country club over summer break. That was over a year ago. This new Blu-ray then marks the first appearance of the original 2006 movie. While the Blu-ray of HSM2 was an "Extended" version with nearly a quarter hour added into to the movie, this "Remix" version of
HSM actually applies only to the Bonus Features and not to the movie at all. So, for better or worse, this video contains the movie as it was shown on the tele.

High School Musical first aired on the Disney channel in 2006. It was popular enough that the sequel, according to Disney's press release, was the most watched cable telecast of all time, and "The High School Musical 2 soundtrack had a spectacular debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, a first for a television movie soundtrack."

There is already a second, and final sequel (with this cast at any rate), HSM3: Senior Year (looks like no one is being held back), with the principal featured characters returning once again. In the first movie, Troy Bolton (Zac Efron, channeling David Cassidy), the most popular boy at East High School, encounters the girl who would be the love of his high school life, the lovely Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens, channeling Bambi's friend, Flower) at a party where they are picked to sing a Karaoke duet. Both kids make as if they are really uncomfortable singing in public, but you'd never know it from the sound of them. They act surprised, all the same.

 

 

 

Troy is the leader of the school basketball team, and Gabriella is a transfer student and a whiz in science. Troy's teammates (and the coach who happens to be Troy's dad) and Gabriella's newfound friends command them to keep their eye on the ball. But their duet has kindled an unexpected interest in singing and thus the theatre and the upcoming tryouts for the next school musical. This is where Sharpay Evans (the deliciously scheming Ashely Tisdale) and her twin brother (the seriously talented Lucas Grabell) come in. They plan to make sure the parts of the lead couple go to them, without any pesky competition.

I noted in my review of HSM2 that the dance numbers were well staged and executed, but there seemed to be a precision to it all that was just a little much. The first movie is less pretentious. The kids hadn't yet reached star status and it shows in their relatively spontaneous approach to acting, singing and dancing. Even though the staging of the numbers is professional, there are continuity problems that emerge simply from its having a limited budget. e.g. a person seen jumping off a table in the middle of the frame disappears in the next cut. We see the table, but no kid. It's overlooked because there are 40 others in the frame competing for our attention.

While HSM2 might put us in mind of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musicals, the first movie might suggest Spin & Marty – The Musical. Everyone is almost unbearably sweet and sexless. Even Miss Sharpay is only teething on her baby fangs. They may come in different colors, but it's only superficial.

 


 

Image: 8/9
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Funnily enough, the image quality is just a tad better than HSM2. The previously observed fuzz is still there, but less pronounced, and even less noticeable in the opening karaoke number. A fine grain is present throughout, but not at all obtrusive. Color balance, especially skin tones, is natural – more so than the sequels. (A comparison between HSM and HSM3 in this regard is little scary.) All in all, a good looking picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/6
My observations of HSM2 hold for HSM as well: there is still an acoustic disconnect between the prerecorded singing and the actors as they lip sync, . Hudgens being the worst offender. (I swear I can't put that voice and that girl together.) Otherwise the sound is good, clear and crisp, if unremarkable. The surrounds don't have much to do except for the instrumental and chorus bits where everything comes alive.
 

Operations: 8
The similarly pictured menu windows are sensibly laid out, easy to access and come with summaries and timings for the various features. A Play All for the Music Videos would have been nice.

 

 

 

Extras: 6
This is where the "Remix" angle materializes. Bringing It All Together: The Making of HSM and the Sing Along with the Movie from the DVD, plus the Learning the Moves segment are included here. In addition Disney gives us three more music videos plus Disney Channel Dance Alongs, High School Reunion and Hollywood Premier. Cheery as these extras are, they would be hardly worth the purchase if it weren't for the superior image and sound on the Blu-ray. Everything is in good quality 480i.

 

 

Bottom line: 7
The "Remix" factor strikes me as a sly gimmick to make the unwary think they're getting a different version of the movie, when in fact they are only buying a handful of new bonus features that don't, in my opinion, make the Blu-ray attractive enough for purchase. What does make the upgrade attractive is its superior image and sound. Hey, this is the original movie looking and sounding as good as it's likely to get. How could a true fan pass it up?

 

Leonard Norwitz
February 13th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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