Monday, September 20, 2004

DIRK™ REVIEWS IT FOR YOU: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Short Version: Sci-fi that looks and feels like 1939 created with genuine 21st Century technology with fine results.

Long Version: With special effects-driven blockbusters becoming more obvious marketing vehicles and lame stories calculated to draw in sufficient numbers of the targeted demographics, movies that just seem to ENTERTAIN seem to be getting rarer and rarer, but Sky Captain pulls it off nicely as it serves up an honest-to-gosh, old-fashioned popcorn movie with ray guns, giant robots and a visual style ripped from the pages of old Buck Rogers comics.

You can look up the plot details elsewhere, so I'm just going to comment on the notable bits. First off, the most amazing thing isn't the production design and look of the film. No, the most special effect is that they somehow made the loathsome and tubercular Gwyneth Paltrow into an actually tolerable, almost cute and plucky heroine. Considering how much screen time she occupies, she could've been a deal-breaker, but it works out in the end. Jude Law is his usual solid and too-good-looking self, Giovanni Ratfacei actually looks right for once and Angelina Jolie-Belligerent, well, what can I say, with only one eye showing and covered in a leather uniform that covers everything but her face, she's hotter than most actresses are naked – I want a "Franky Cook and Her Flying Legion" movie NOW!!! Chop chop!!!! Make it so!!!!

As the story traipses from 1939 New York City to Nepal and Shangri-La to a mysterious island with dinosaurs and an army of robots stocking a space ark (roll with it), it's like a couple of months worth of Saturday afternoon matinees strung together. It seems wrong to compare this to Star Wars, but it's got the same attitude, so check your cynicism at the door, OK? It's a MOO-VEE – not a way of life. Relax. Trust me when I say you'll probably forget that you're watching actors amidst nothing. Sure, your mind will tell you it can't be real, but if you don't think about it, it's just neat places they're going.

Writer-director Kerry Conran labored over his hot Mac for years to cobble together the 6-minute demo reel that scored him $70 million in major studio funding, two Oscar winners and an Oscar nominee and a big blue room for them to play in, adding all the sets and effects in post-production with CGI. When George Lucas used similar "virtual studio" techniques for his Star Wars prequels, the critics slammed him, yet they've now decided that SkyCap's director is a revolutionary pioneer in cinema. (Yeah, right.)

I give it an 8/10 – worth catching at a matinee show. I'll be buying the DVD when it's available.


Seth T. Hahne said...

This is right. And true. And the proper explanation of a pretty-darned-cool movie. Especially the comments about Gwynnie (except that I would probably add "close-to-" immediately before tolerable in that line).

Dirk Belligerent said...

While I generally don't think much good of Apple's mother, I'm not a cruel and vindictive soul and I'm willing to cut her a break when she avoids annoying me.

Thanks for the comment and spread the word on DIRKWORLD!

Dirk Belligerent said...

Have you tried Philip's Milk of Magnesia?

Anonymous said...

The Lady G has often been fine in Linusworld, which as you know is often orthagonal to Dirkworld. Here, she was not. She reminded me of my friend Christiane, and served to illustrate how cute Christiane is. By which I mean that she was paltry - ahem - here. For being a fleeting shadow of what it should have been, I'll give this a 4 in the movies and probably a 6 or 7 on DVD if they pump in the right features.