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High School Musical
(Blu-ray)

review by Zach B.

 

 

TV Rating: G

Running Time: 98 minutes

Starring: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Mark L. Taylor, Bart Johnson, Robert Curtis Brown, Jessica Tuck, Alyson Reed, Christopher Warren Jr. Ryne Sanborn, Olesya Rulin, Kaycee Stroh, Tanya Chisholm

Written by: Peter Barsocchini

Directed by: Kenny Ortega

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $34.99

Features: Bringing It All Together, The Making Of High School Musical, Learning The Moves, A High School Reunion, The Hollywood Premiere, Disney Channel Dance-Alongs, Sing Along With The Movie, Music Videos

Specs: 1.78:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Uncompressed, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (12 Scenes)

Released: February 17th, 2009

 

 

At last: you can now own "High School Musical" in widescreen. The Blu-ray presents the movie in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, as it was shot, and in full 1080p high definition. Given the film's low budget, the production design for the movie really isn't exactly a visual feast. But I could definitely tell there was more detail when it came to the background and objects. Fleshtones are also pretty dazzling, without coming off as too pasty. Color saturation is also nice, appearing pretty bold and well-saturated (just check out those basketball uniforms, and Sharpay's glamazon outfits). There is a broad vibrancy to the transfer, which definitely makes the movie appealing to look at. The overall image itself though is crisp and clean - just like the HSM franchise itself. Easily the best presentation this movie has seen yet, and nobody should be disappointed.

 

Also getting an upgrade on this Blu-ray release of HSM is the soundtrack, which is in 5.1 and uncompressed. Other than some typical surrounds (students running, action at a basketball game), this movie is all about the music. The Uncompressed 5.1 does not disappoint, and is an improvement over the standard Dolby Digital 5.1, but it's not as richly textured as some might expect. There seems to be more sonic detail in the songs, but other than the added depth, everything just comes off louder. It's not a bad thing at all, though - there is definitely more breathing room to be had in this uncompressed track, which does make you feel like you are at East High a bit more. But for a mega-wattage experience akin to hearing happening before your eyes in reality, the track doesn't quite cut it.

As far as elements in the track, subwoofer use is noticeable and feels pretty organic. Dialogue itself is clear and always easy to hear, while fidelity is high and the overall dynamic range is pretty good.


Also included are 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks in English, French and Spanish, and subtitles in those same languages.

 

Sorry Blu-ray HSM fans, but everything here is just ported from the original two "High School Musical" DVD releases. Bringing It All Together: The Making Of High School Musical runs nearly 9 minutes. It's a brief but solid overview of the first movie, and at this point, interesting to watch since it doesn't have a perspective of HSM being the phenom it would come to me. Director Kenny Ortega shares some thoughts along with the on-the-set footage and clips from the movie, as does the entire main cast. There's also bits on the audition process for some of the cast, the recording of the music and dance rehearsals. Some of the dance instructors also chime in. The piece not only shows how all the popular elements of the movie came together for filming, but also delves HSM-newbies into the world of East High.

Learning The Moves is hosted by Ortega, and lets you learn some dance moves. There are three angles to choose from: the final film, a wide angle of dance rehearsal, a close-up of the dance rehearsal (or all 3 at the same time). The number features Lucas Grabeel and Ashley Tisdale, and at times you can switch between the angles when an icon of feet emerges on screen. Don't cause too damage in your living room!

Two other featurettes, A High School Reunion and The Hollywood Premiere, are short and don't add up to much other than sound bites from the cast. The Disney Channel Dance-Alongs might help you bust a few more moves, and there's also the Sing Along With The Movie option, which are just glorified subtitles during the musical numbers. Finally, there's five Music Videos: "I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You," "We're All In This Together," "Breaking Free Remix," "We're In This Together Remix" and "Eres Tu."

 

If you're an adult High School Musical fan, or own a home theater and have a kid obsessed with the franchise, then this Blu-ray edition is probably worth purchasing. Sure, there are no new supplements to be had, but for those with widescreen televisions, having the movie fill the entire frame in sparkling high-definition should be enough (especially since the past two DVD releases were full screen only). The uncompressed 5.1 mix is definitely an improvement over the regular 5.1 mix, too. This is the best possible presentation of the telemovie available, so enjoy. That is, until an inevitable re-release a few years down the line...