I went in with high expectations, and wasn't disappointed! In fact, I found it highly enjoyable. Here's the thing. One of the things that might bug me about a teen movie like this is that I find that the situations they're singing about are nothing to get that riled up about. I mean, sure it sucks if you lose a couple songs in the high school musical. Or if you think that it's not okay that you like to bake. But is it really something to freak about? But this time it was different. The whole premise of HSM 3 is that they are in their senior year. They're freaking, but it's about stuff that really IS scary, and decisions that REALLY matter. Where am I going? Did High School really matter? Will I ever see these people again? What will my father say if I don't follow the path he wants for me? How do I tell my best friend if I've decided NOT to go to college with him like we planned? What are the right choices for ME?
I think that just contributed to the enjoyability for older people (ie not teenagers) who have been through that stuff and remember how it is to step out of school and grow up without really knowing exactly what they're doing.
The big screen budget definitely had a positive effect here. The choreography was stepped up, and the sets were stepped up. There was the scene where Sharpay and Ryan sing in the cafeteria and it morphs into a search for dreams remniscent of Gene Kelly's dream in "Singin in the Rain" during "Gotta Dance". Yes, I felt weird making that comparison, but it's just what it reminded me of, and they pulled it off. Then there was the romantic scene with Troy and Gabriella dancing on the much expanded garden roof of the school.
Good choreography, good story, good scenery and good singing. What more could you really ask for? If you were a fan of the first two, you'll definitely enjoy it. If you didn't see the first two, but you're a fan of musicals, go see it. I'll tell you one thing - it was way better than Mamma Mia. It's also worth seeing as one of the few real musicals that the current generation of teens has seen in the theaters. I'm ALWAYS willing to support that!
PS I also realized while watching this that if I was 16 I would totally be in love with Zac Efron. As it is, when I was in middle school I was totally in love with Jonathan Brandis. Oops, was that out loud?