Monday, September 20, 2004

Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow movie review

By Linda

Hold your thought processes at the door. This movie isn't a good exercise for those who want plot lines which make sense, dialogue that builds to suspense, a linear progression from one point to another. An intellectual exercise it's not.

From the very first scene of the Hindenburg III, docking at the Empire State Building in New York, though, you know you're in for a visual treat with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. (And yes, they actually built a docking port on the top of the Empire State Building so many years ago, but never used it.) But the eye candy doesn't stop there: the movie increasingly surprises as we go from one theme and one setting to another.

Instead of a more appropriate black-and-white background, they chose to go with a faded-out, retrograde color, heavily suggesting the cinematic techniques of the late '30's and early '40's. A lot of its plot and character-building devices are terribly predictable, typical of this neo-classic genre. Talk about telegraphing your punches! When Jude Law's Sky Captain Joe actually punches out Gwyneth Paltow's early-Lois Lane reporter, you're thinking, "What next?" This movie has every overplayed bit, and we loved every minute of it. It is a bit irritating, perhaps, to have things explained to you over and over so that you "get" it. And, yes, every little segue is explained cinematically (even though most of it still doesn't make logical sense) so that you know you're flying to Nepal, or going to Sky Captain's secret island (right next to Manhattan?). Maybe audiences needed that in the '40's. While the sophisticated audiences of now don't need such tricks to help us, why not? Such devices only help to convince us we never really left 1939.

Jude Law is fine as Joe, a Sky Captain who should have been an American. But he plays it with a bit of flair, emotion when it's okay for a hero to display such things. Gwyneth Paltrow is a good blonde, and is equal to Sky Captain's banter. Giovanni Ribisi has a nice role as a quick-thinking sidekick, the brains behind Law's brawn.

What we're seeing is definitely The World of Tomorrow. This is the way movies will be made in the future. Jon Avnet recognized this immediately when he saw Kerry Conran's computer-created short. A movie which has three large stars (four if you count the dead one) in it, at fantastic locations, costing $75 million? Only a movie with EVERY scene built from CG could do this. This is the future. While the unions of set builders may complain, matte painters and visual effects houses rejoice.

The only faults with the movie? I grew a little restless at the predictable premise, but then they'd throw something at me to renew my interest. Angelina Jolie -- there weren't enough scenes with her "Franky" in them. In a black aviator-leather outfit, a patch and a spiffy British accent, she lights up every scene and steals them from Law and Paltrow easily. Nice dirigibles.


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