Thursday, July 30, 2009

Underrated, Part 2: Sky High

Sky High, unlike Ghost Rider, is not so much under-appreciated by those who have seen it, as it is ignored by those who should see it. While there are many superhero movies we love as much or more, no other live action film has understood the nature of comic book universes so well.

First and foremost, this is a movie about the sheer wonder of superheroes and the worlds they inhabit. Aside from the omission of a magic-based hero, the entire range of powers and abilities is represented. The movie demonstrates a remarkable understanding of how these abilities function and how they can be utilized.

Countless comic book elements are incorporated. From echoes of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s helicarrier in the school to the complications of secret identities, the world is rich and complex. Particularly impressive, is that these are handled with respect. While there are jokes referencing the use of eyeglasses, they are clever and thought out.

Sky High has flaws, but they are few and far between. There is at least one joke which is simply unforgivable. In addition, like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, the villain's costume could have been borrowed from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The last battle is also somewhat anticlimatic.

But these are minor problems. This is an intelligent superhero comedy with surprisingly complex and realistic characters. The film embraces devices from both comics and teen comedies, but never reduces these to their simplest levels.

The fusion of superheroes and teen comedy is far from new: the idea has been utilized by everything from the X-Men to Teen Titans. But to date nothing else has so successfully developed this into film. There are plenty of epics and adventure stories, but Sky High stands alone.

Sky High remains one of the best superhero comedies ever made. If you're reading this blog and you've never seen this, it's time to remedy that.

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