Blu-ray Review: High School Musical (Remix Edition)

I hope I wasn’t the only one rendered slightly confused by this one. When I saw this was a “remix” edition of High School Musical, I initially thought, what, did they remix the sings or move some scenes around? Fear not, fans. This is the original made-for-TV High School Musical movie that debuted on the Disney Channel on January 20, 2006. That airing drew 7.7 million viewers–the biggest audience to date for a Disney TV offering. Disney had to be thrilled, since the movie took just 24 days to shoot and the soundtrack 5 days to record. Needless to say, I’m not sure why this version is referred to as a remix; other than the fact that it gets a fine Blu-ray treatment here.

hsm.jpgEast High basketball star Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) is spending New Year’s Eve at a ski lodge with his parents, one of whom happens to be his coach. All Troy wants to do us play some basketball. At his parents insistence, he goes down to the “kiddie” party and finds himself pushed onstage to perform a karaoke duet–with it turns out, a gorgeous girl named Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) whose been the smartest kid at every school she’s attended. They click and when Gabriella turns up as the new kid in school, it’s very reminiscent of Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) in Grease.
Troy and Gabriella’s homeroom teacher is the drama teacher Ms. Darbus (Alyson Reed), who says and does everything with theatrical flair. She holds auditions that are American Idol funny for their sheer awfulness and her witty responses. East High has a rich brother and sister Sharpay and Ryan Evans (Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel) who have always gotten the leads in high school musicals of the past and as far as their concerned, this year should be no different. Predictably, their perfect world is shaken, when they find out Gabriella and Troy might audition. And when the four of them get a callback, Sharpay does whatever she can to keep the intruders from getting the parts. In the midst of all this, Troy’s team is fighting for a basketball championship and Gabriella is involved in an academic competition.
The story in itself isn’t particular unique. However there are several things that make High School Musical appealing. The cast is appealing and likable; making it easy to see why the Disney Channel demographic jumped on the HSM bandwagon from the start. The parents are as likable as their offspring–no doofuses here. The broadest character is the drama teacher; we see her in “down” moments too, which reinforces that her speaking with flair is part of her teaching.
Though aimed at a young audience, I found myself enjoying the spunk and energy of High School Musical. Looking at this made-for-television movie after HSM3 hit the big screen, it’s clear that Disney may have had big screen aspirations for the kids from East High from the start.
Using a flawless AVC/MPEG-4 transfer to a BD-50 dual-layered disc and apparently applying edge enhancement with such subtlety that you wouldn’t notice unless you compared the indistinct shapes from the DVD. There are scenes that look a little soft. But again, compared to the DVD it’s like night and day, the Blu-ray is so superior in quality. There are also no noticeable artifacts in the transfer.
Kudos to Disney for giving fans a space-consuming PCM audio track to really make these remixed songs sparkle. The English 5.1 uncompressed audio (48 kHz/24-bit) really has a nice pop to it on the big numbers and you don’t hear any hiss or distortion whatsoever. The mix does a good job of delivering pure tones at both ends. Additional options in English, French, and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 aren’t as robust and seem to have a narrower spread across the front speakers. Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
High School Musical (Remix Edition) has a nice selection of special features:
Sing-Along with the Movie – This is a karaoke function, allowing you to read the pop-up lyrics while you sing along.
Featurette: “Bringing It All Together” (SD, 9 minutes) – This 9-minute is a bunch of talking head interviews that’s merely a commercial.
Featurette: “A High School Musical Reunion” (SD, 6 minutes) – More interviews, here with the cast, but again there isn’t enough perspective on the ‘HSM’ phenomenon to offer much of interest.
Featurettes: “Learning the Moves”/”Disney Channel Dance-Alongs” (SD, 20 minutes) – The first featurette is only a short 4 minutes with director Kenny Ortega that was taken from the original, non-“Remix” DVD edition. Much better is “Dance-Alongs,” which features the cast going far more in-depth on how to do the film’s “super hot” dance moves.
Featurette: “The Hollywood Premiere” (SD, 2 minutes) – The main featurettes are capped by this very short montage of clips from the film’s premiere, which is actually for the DVD (the flick didn’t get a proper red carpet send-off).
Music Videos (SD) – Finally, we get no less than five music videos. The clips include: “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” “We’re All in This Together,” “Eres Tu,” “Breaking Free (Remix)” and “We’re All in This Together (Remix).”

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