Hannah Montana: The Movie (US - BD RA)
Gabe Powers takes a look at the latest feature film from that Smiley Virus girl...
It just recently dawned on me that Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) is basically a superhero. She doesn’t exactly battle super villains (not so far in what little I’ve seen of her), but she does have certain ‘powers’ when in the guise of this hero, and has a secret identity that she uses to infiltrate ‘normal society’ and learn life lessons. It’s kind of like Spider-Man for pre-pubescent girls that consider singing feel-good pop music a world changing, heroic move. Maybe it is, I shouldn’t judge. Anyway this film version of the popular phenomenon plays like many superhero movie sequels in that the hero’s hero and real life personas fall out of balance, and hurt the people around her. Doctor Octopus doesn’t threaten to kill her boyfriend, but her best friend sort of betrays her, and she does realize that the hero persona might not be worth the trouble.
It’s clear that this film was not made for me, and any sort of critical or personal look at things would be kind of pointless. Parents concerned with content should be happy to know that the film features good natured flirting, non-violent slapstick comedy (save an out of place alligator attack), and most importantly a whole bunch of ‘important’ moral lessons. The constant guilt tripping wears very, very thin (‘You ain’t no city girl, stop pretending), the plot is flat out of every kids movie since the beginning of time, but it’s mostly harmless. Director Peter Chelsom has enough of a theatrical sense to keep the film interesting looking even when the plot is plodding charmlessly, and the cast doesn’t embarrass themselves with the rather dim-witted dialogue. I’m actually pretty impressed with Miley Cyrus’ comedy skills. We could do a lot worse as out-of-the-loop grown-ups.
Since I wasn’t exactly enthralled by the feature itself I was pretty focused on the image quality of this Blu-ray disc. Overall things are pretty good, but for a new release this isn’t exactly an impressive disc. Photography is tailored towards the brightest colours, and the transfer doesn’t disappoint as far as full-bodied hues are concerned, but the cleanliness and blends are both problems. Depending on the surround lighting schemes noise flickers throughout the transfer, and richer hues feature some obvious blocking. There’s even a few small cases of jaggies on on-screen text. Grain is relatively fine, though readily apparent in the lighter tones. Still, the DVD copy’s colours never approach this degree of brightness, and the details are clearly sharper, so there is a point to the release if your kids are fans and you’ve got a big TV.
The Hannah Montana series is at least seventy-five percent about selling music to kids, so the soundtrack is clearly more important than the plot, the characters, or the video quality. This DTS-HD track doesn’t disappoint, specifically not when it comes to the music, which includes Cyrus’ usual pop fluff, a bit of country bumpkin fluff, and more standard symphonic movie stuff. The musical production is impressive in scope, clarity and bass, but doesn’t really fit in as natural with the rest of the soundtrack, which is pretty low-key. There are a few non-musical directional effects, like farm animals and moving vehicles, and the centric dialogue is always clear without overbearing the rest of the track.
The extras start with a shockingly listenable commentary track with director Peter Chelsom, who has a clear understanding of filmmaking, and what his audience wants to hear about. He’s not a complete outsider to Hannah Montana ‘mythology’, but it seems he’s enough of an outsider to approach the project as a ‘real’ film rather than just a phenomenon feeding money maker, and obviously understands he’s not making Oscar-calibre work. The major focus is on the film’s music, and the collaborative aspects of the final feature.
Next up are four deleted scenes (10:30, HD), with introductions from Chelsom, who talks briefly about each scene, and the fact that there really weren’t very many deleted scenes. These scenes include bits of a subplot involving Miley’s brother keeping his lack of college acceptance a secret from his father, Miley practicing a new song, more tricks played on the British reporter, and some ostrich and alligator action. Next are seven painful music video, which are presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and varying video qualities.
Under the ‘Backstage Disney’ banner are a two part how-to dance featurette, ‘Find Your Way Back Home’ (15:00, HD), a video trip around Franklin, Tennessee, ‘I Should Have Gone to Film School’ (15:20, HD), a look behind the scenes of the filming process with actor Jason Earles, and a blooper reel (03:50, HD), with an introduction from Chelsom.
Hannah Montana: The Movie is, as a grown-up, like the removal of a band-aid. It hurts a little bit, but it’s quick process. When all is said and done most of us over the age of twelve will be surprised by how harmless the whole process is. The story is familiar, the music is dopey, but the performances are pretty good, and the photography is quite colourful. The disc is a little disappointing in the video field considering the film’s age, but the audio is brimming with warm music. The extras are slim, but will probably make the kiddies happy, specifically the music videos.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
All ages admitted
Release Date: 18th August 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master 7.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French and Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Director Commentary, The Hoedown Throwdown, Dance Experience with the Cast, 7 Music Videos, Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, Find You're Way Back Home, I Should've Gone to Film School, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Peter Chelsom
Cast: Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lucas Till, Emily Osment, Jason Earles
Genre: Family and Musical
Length: 102 minutes
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