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November 5, 2008 > High School Musical 3

High School Musical 3

By Susana Nu–ez

The Disney darlings of High School Musical (HSM) are back, along with the beautiful Zac Efron. Yes, beautiful. Not handsome or attractive, but stunningly beautiful. This boy outshines every one of his female co-stars, including his on-screen (and off-screen) girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens. As for the rest of the colorful cast, everyone was at their best, as the production was at a much higher level this time around. The new songs and dance numbers were flawless, and full of the imaginative and playful choreography fans love. For the first time, HSM was shown in theaters, when previously the movies were made only for the Disney channel. Their success called for something bigger, and Disney definitely delivered with this latest addition to the HSM franchise.

While HSM 2 had viewers follow the cast during their summer break before senior year, HSM 3 is centered around their last moments together as seniors at East High. The story revolves around Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella's (Vanessa Hudgens) relationship, and what will happen after graduation. With concerns about getting into the right schools, prom- and on top of it all, their very last musical together- tensions are running high. Gabriella doesn't feel ready to cope with it all, while Zac fears losing her to a far away school. He's also dealing with deciding what path is right for him- becoming a basketball star like his father always wanted, or pursuing theater.

Not surprisingly, everyone's favorite narcissistic and ambitious blond, Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) already knows exactly what she wants- everything. Her duet with her twin Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), "I Want it All," was the highlight of the film. It included over the top sets and costume changes that gave viewers a detailed look at the type of fame Sharpay seeks as an aspiring Broadway sensation. Her goal is set, and nothing will stop her. Sharpay is one of the most vibrant characters, and her antics are always fun to watch. She's constantly trying to steal as much of the limelight as she can, but viewers all know who the real HSM star is- Troy Bolton.

More than ever, the filmmakers made it obvious that Zac Efron is the star of the show. The film even starts off with an extreme close-up of his face, with his signature hair falling into place around his eyes. Viewers were locked in after that first dramatic, albeit corny, shot. However, one wonders what will become of this teenage phenomenon if this last installment in the HSM series is really the end. He made quite a memorable performance as Link Larkin in last year's Hairspray musical, and he's already finished wrapping up another film, Seventeen Again, a comedy set to release next year.

It's difficult to say whether the other HSM actors will be able to grow out of the Disney brand as gracefully, but Ashley Tisdale, if any of them, may very well be next in line. Her performance is always stellar, and her quirky facial expressions and attention to detail makes her a strong on-screen presence, a quality that co-star Vanessa Hudgens lacks. Maybe it's because her character is a bit boring, but Gabriella is really just cute, and nothing more. She's not particularly fun to watch on screen; she just functions as a sweet girl for Troy to work off of, and an easy target for the sassy Sharpay to mock.

Independent endeavors aside, the cast is excellent together in the film. It's a must-see if you're an HSM fan; of course, as this might be the only chance you'll get to see them all on the big screen. Zac was quoted as saying that he would do another installment, as he and the cast have a great time working on these projects together. This definitely shows on screen, as the movie is a fun, spirited testament to growing up that audience members of any age will enjoy.

Rated: G
Runtime: 1 hr. 40 mins.

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