Hannah Montana: The Movie has arrived on Blu-ray with all the bells and whistles you would expect, including a standard DVD of the movie and a third disc containing a digital copy for use on computers or MP3 players. Whether it deserves such lavish treatment depends largely on one's perspective. This isn't a particularly well made film, but young fans who obsess over the character will be thrilled. An inoffensive time waster with an uninspired plot, the movie ultimately could have been a lot more fun.
Miley Cyrus stars as Miley Stewart, a young singer who wants to live in the "best of both worlds." In other words, she wants a normal teenage life with her family, but she also wants to live the life of a teen sensation. The solution is to perform under the stage name Hannah Montana. That way she isn't bothered day and night by paparazzi. Perhaps inspired by Clark Kent's glasses (which prevent anyone from identifying him as Superman), Ms. Stewart wears a blonde wig when appearing as Hannah. No one can tell who she really is, even when speaking to her from a few feet away. It would be more fun if it was played as a joke, but the audience is expected to take the whole ruse at face value.
The massively popular Disney Channel series Hannah Montana is a traditional sitcom, complete with laugh track. Hannah Montana: The Movie switches things up, taking Miley out of her superstar lifestyle and plopping her right back where she started. Her father Robby Ray (played by Miley Cyrus' real-life dad Billy Ray) feels that she is losing touch with her roots. Early in the movie, Miley gets into a fight with Tyra Banks over a pair of shoes and it seems the youngster is getting too big for her britches. So it's off to the family farm, where father reminds daughter about traditional family values.
A very chaste romance soon blooms between Miley and a farmhand named Travis (Lucas Till). Travis overhears her singing an original song, and chastises her for not having the courage to write more personal lyrics. This inspires Miley to dig deeper artistically, plumbing the depths of her soul to craft something introspective. Things get sticky between the youngsters, however, when Miley lets slip that she "knows" Hannah Montana. Crowley Corners, the small Tennessee town that the Stewart family hails from, is in danger of being paved over to build a new shopping center. A concert by Hannah would undoubtedly raise enough money to save the town. When Miley agrees to ask her "friend" Hannah to help, she has no choice but to play a dual role to keep the townspeople from discovering the truth about her double life.
Late in the movie, we finally see Miley performing as Hannah. But it might be too little, too late for some fans. The scenes of Miley out in the country reconnecting with her less complicated pre-stardom life are rather uninteresting. Something more fun and fast-paced, like Spiceworld for instance, might have held fans' attention more tightly. Of course, it would be a mistake to underestimate the thirst for Hannah Montana product. After all, Hannah Montana: The Movie hit theaters only weeks after the Best Of Both Worlds concert movie raked in millions. The point is, the target demographic isn't especially demanding in the quality control department. If they enjoy this movie, then mission accomplished.
The Blu-ray release of Hannah Montana: The Movie presents a strong, though unspectacular, visual and sonic experience. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is probably too good for most of the young viewers to really even appreciate. Music sequences reasonably approximate the sound of a live performance. The 1080p transfer is sharp and colors are realistic. Sampling the standard DVD that is included demonstrated a distinct difference in quality. The DVD lacks the clarity of the Blu-ray; it's almost soft-focus by comparison. All things considered, while by no means reference quality, the producers of Hannah Montana: The Movie have done a bang-up job with this Blu-ray.
Loaded with features, fans will be entertained by this release long after the credits roll. The director's commentary may seem like a chore for young viewers to listen to, but they'll have a blast watching all the featurettes (about an hour's worth). There is a selection of deleted scenes, music videos, and a blooper reel (not a very funny one, honestly). Parents may not understand what all the fuss is about, but kids love Miley Cyrus and her dual characters of Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana. No harm can come from watching the Blu-ray release of Hannah Montana: The Movie, except that the $44.99 MSRP is a little steep.