Thursday, June 02, 2005

Tagline of the Week: Courtesy of Sky High

“This Summer, the sky is the limit”

Or so say the marketing guys over at Disney who are handling, their summer release Sky High, a live action film due out in late July. I had heard tell of this flick, but didn’t see the trailer until this morning.

If the X-Men franchise and The Incredibles shared a night of passion, this is what their love child would be.

Remember TWINS? Arnold Schwazernegger and Danny Devito shared the same mother, but one represented the genetic gold of their parents, while the other represented the “genetic garbage”? I don’t know if those two films gave birth to twins or not, but if they did, Sky High would definitely be the Danny Devito of the group. Everything that is cheesy, and hackneyed about superheros, and superhero movies has been captured masterfully in this seeminigly predictable storyline with tacky special effects.

So its a Disney film directed at kids, that will probably have a PG rating, that’s fine. But why does it feel about twenty times more infantile that The Incredibles which was an animated feature also directed primarily at young audiences? The film doesn’t seem to have any wit in the language, nor cleverness or originality in the story. As for the visuals, which are usually half the fun in these kinds of movies, I think they look absolutely terrible. Everything from the costumes, to the sets, to the CGI looks like it cost about five cents a piece. Now it would be one thing if this was some sort of a superhero parody, like Mystery Men, where the costumes and sets are supposed to look silly. But I don’t think that’s what they’re going for, and even Mystery Men looked more original - the art direction for Sky High looks completely bland.

Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as the world’s greatest superheros? Ooof. That’s about as believable as a Scientology social ethics seminar. They’ve also done a nice job of picking unknowns for the teen roles, that have about as much charisma and star power as a plastic dog toy. I thought the whole point of picking an unknown is that you could cast someone who was actually good!

Written by Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle, with help from Paul Hernandez, the wizards over at the mouse house somehow managed to get at least three writers on the film, who had never done a major live action feature before. Schooley and Mark McCorkle have done some direct to video cartoon stuff for Disney, and also worked on Kim Possible (which I’ve actually heard was great) and this is Hernandez’s first job ever it seems. Its possible the trailer isn’t as obvious as it seems, but I feel as though I already know everything that will happen in the movie. Kid has superhero parents. Kid struggles with his superhero powers. Kid discovers superhero powers. Kid must face his parent’s former nemesis and save the day. (please excuse me, while I try to contain my yawning) The only thing I found remotely amusing in the entire trailer was the giant egghead guy, who looks like one of the Martians from the orginal series Star Trek episode The Menagerie (aka the Cave) - he seemed kind of cool and funny in his white lab coat.

I mean is that really it? Everything in here seems so unblievably DONE. I will go see just about any film that involves superheros, ....but this, this seems to suck out every sliver of marrow left in the bones of the genre. All those shots of people getting frozen, and people stretching their limbs unnaturally, and setting things on fire, are straight up ripped off from X-Men, no to mention the fact that they appear in the trailer for Fantastic Four. (ew) I just hope is that this does not represent a trend of silly superhero knock offs that give a bad name to the subject matter.

A lot of people who don’t care for the superhero genre, purport that it is a category of redundancy. That if you look at the group of stories at a whole, it is merely the same story told over and over again, depicting superhuman powers applied to good or evil, resulting in the inevitable conclusion of “saving the day.” But I don’t think this is the case. When done with thoughfulness and creative integrity, these stories have the same mythic and timeless qualitites as the mythology of old, like the Greek and Roman Gods. Filed with great metaphors, symbolism, and adventure, these are some of my favorite types of stories to watch play out on the big screen.

If only the film makers had listened to their own tagline: “the sky is the limit” - then maybe they wouldn’t have held back and gone with such safe and boring choices.

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