"High School Musical 3" release poster. (Photo retrieved from IMDb)

If you think quarantine graduation is crazy, watch ‘High School Musical 3’!

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” is the best of the trilogy but has its problems. 

The 2008 film has the whole gang — Troy (Zac Efron), Chad (Corbin Bleu), Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and more — back together for one last play about their senior year. 

Sadly, things can’t be simple in the “High School Musical” universe, so Gabriella has to qualify for a program at Stanford that starts way before high school ends. Gabriella must choose between going to Stanford early or performing in the play. 

Also, one student among Troy, Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), Kelsi (Olesya Rulin), and Sharpay will get a scholarship to Juilliard after two representatives of the famous performing arts conservatory in New York watch the play. Lastly, Sharpay has a new student assistant from England, and a freshman named Rocket Man is always following Troy around. 

This was the only “High School Musical” movie that appeared in theaters rather than on television. This allowed a bigger budget and more detail. The cinematography is much more characteristic of a blockbuster movie than a TV show, which really pulls the film together. 

One of the best parts of this movie is that all of the songs are performed the way they would be on stage. This allows more intricate, elaborate sets that keep you entertained. 

One of the best of these set pieces is during “I Want It All,” in which the singers describe places they’ll go when they’re rich and famous. They get on a spinning circle that is cut into three sections — an airplane, a tropical resort and an extremely flashy stage. This set piece is a great, innovative way to show different locations quickly, plus it looks cool. 

Also, the choreography has improved, and it seems more like an actual musical performance. 

The movie plays into the nostalgia factor and flashes back to scenes in the series. I have enjoyed this series from a young age, so when I see these flashbacks, it reminds me of fond moments in my childhood.

One major flaw of this movie is that the actors discuss Juilliard, probably the most prestigious performing arts school in the world, as if it’s your run-of-the-mill college. Just one student at the high school getting acknowledged by Juilliard would be remarkable, but four students — that’s out of the question. Also, how has Troy never heard of Juilliard?

Unlike in the other movies in the trilogy, some of the musical scenes last too long. This only happens in one or two songs, but they get rather boring near the end.

The ending nicely wraps up a trilogy for the ages. Troy gives a graduation speech praising individuality, and the trilogy couldn’t end any better than with the absolute classic “We’re All In This Together,” getting everyone out of their chairs to get involved.

Overall, this movie is a fantastic conclusion to an epic trilogy.

★★★★☆

—Dylan Margolis