Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Kerry Conran is a pure genius. Not only was he able to get Paramount Pictures to cough up $75m to make a full version of a short CGI film he made in his apartment, but he was able to make a film so full of fun and entertainment value out of such a simple concept. Take a group of well known actors, place them against a huge greenscreen, create artificial backgrounds and whatnot for said actors to interact with and BAM! Instant film. Sure, George Lucas has been doing that with his Prequel Trilogy, but none of them have the energy and pure whimsy this film has.

Visually, it's stunning. The washed out look that permeates every frame just looks awesome. Plus the CGI backdrops are for the most part photo-realistic (there are a few that look like FX). The camerawork (both real and virtual) is great as well. This film looks like a serial from the 30s (which it's trying to emulate).
The action is intense, and there is plenty of it. Aerial dogfights, martial arts duels and chase scenes (both on land and underwater). It's breathtaking to watch all these artificial creations soar between buildings while unloading round upon round of ammunition. Fun stuff.

I have to comment on the inclusion of Sir Lawrence Olivier as Dr. Totenkopf (Conran uses footage of Olivier from other films and cobbles them together to place him in scenes), a stroke of brilliance. It totally works.

There is also a fair amount of humor that works well. There's an ongoing joke about a roll of film that struck me as particularly funny.
The acting is a bit stiff (it's to be expected when acting against a greenscreen), but Jude Law, Angelina Jolie and Giovanni Ribisi manage to make it through with aplomb. Only Gwenyth Paltrow looks out of place. She appears to be sleepwalking through her part (which could have put her back on top again if she put some effort into it) and there is little chemistry between her and Jude Law's Sky Captain due to this.

My only other gripe is the dinosaurs. It just comes out of left field, but I can handle it. Everything else about this movie is just so creative and entertaining.

If you're looking for a deep plot, Oscar worthy acting or realism... look elsewhere. This film is all about the ride. And an amazing one it is.

4.5 of 5

*written 9/17/04

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