Friday, February 18, 2005

Sky Captain And The World Of The Blue Screen

My aunt rented Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow and let us borrow it (thank you new Blockbuster late fee plan). Sometimes when you watch a film, you realize that no matter how good it is, it was destined to fail at the box office. This is one of those films. It sounds so wonderful on paper: a retro-style adventure film with state-of-the-art visual effects. Much had been made of how this film was shot entirely on blue screen soundstages with all the background added in later. However, in execution, the film isn't really a hit or a miss.

The look of the film is unique. While the CG is very obvious, it looks nice. It truly looks like the ultimate adventure film that couldn't be made in the 1940's. There are the dogfights (with mechanized planes that flap their wings), the "exotic" scenery, the awesome military-esque base that inevitably gets destroyed, and the villain's island lair. The film is directed in the style of those old adventure serials. The rousing score is present in virtually every scene. At times, there is lots of shadow and classic shots such as the newspaper press/newspaper overlay. The casting for the film was well-done as well. Gwenyth Paltrow was perfectly cast as the "dame" reporter Polly Perkins. My mom said it best when she said Paltrow was "pretty...and I can't say that about her normally." All of these things combine to make the movie a nice visual and aural experience.

The story, however, is the weak point. The plot is purposely farfetched, but not all that interesting. There are several ways they could've made it more interesting, but saying what they are would spoil the movie. Without spoiling, I'll also say that the twist with the villain is not as clever as who they got to "play" him. While that use of that "person" as the villain made sense given the plot, it was too cheesy of a gimmick. The banter between Jude Law and Paltrow is interesting and kind of funny at times, but also lacking. Given the two characters history, their dialogue should have been punched up more and had a little more back and forth. The rest of the cast is good, especially Giovanni Ribisi. I didn't even recognize Michael Gambon (aka the new Dumbledore replacing the late Richard Harris beginning with the third Harry Potter film).

Ultimately, I had about equal amounts of like and dislike for this film. It's a grand experiment, I'll give it that, and it could've really worked. It's almost a shame that this film was not a commercial success. It would've been interesting to see another, better, Sky Captain film. Something like Sky Captain and The Amazon Invasion...or maybe not. Anyway, Kerry Conran, the man who came up with this film, has great potential. I am looking forward to what he does next.

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