Thursday September 30, 2004

Sky Captain

The Wife and I saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow last week. I enjoyed it more than she did, but that's hardly surprising. Much like Star Wars (although it wasn't that good), Sky Captain seemed tuned to appeal to geeks of exactly my stripe. It pressed most of my SF/pulp/adventure buttons, while still managing to be a bit flat and lifeless in parts.

[Fair Warning: spoilers ahead]

Hidden mountain base? Check. Giant robots with that shoot cool-sounding beams out of their eyes? Check. Pilotless ornithopters attacking New York? Check. WWII-era fighter plane? Check. Hand-held raygun? Check. Shangri-la? Check. Secret flying airbase (or should I say "helicarrier"?) with all-girl fighter squadron with eye-patch wearing commander? Check, check, and check. Huge spaceship-ark with two of each kind of animal, not to mention a superfluous hundred-foot-high Art Deco statue? Check.

It wasn't all good, of course. I don't think any of the actors brought their parts to life, although I did like Polly stressing about the last two shots left in her camera. You can't blame them, though. It must be hard to work inside a brightly lit green pingpong ball, pretending to see all the stuff that's going to be added later. I firmly believe that Jude Law has a devastatingly cool Han Solo-ish charming rogue inside him somewhere, if only the script had given him a chance to show us.

The all-CG production worked out pretty well, I thought. I was certainly aware of it every so often, but it didn't distract me the whole time like I thought it might. There's no doubt in my mind I'm going to buy the DVD when it comes out, if for no other reason than to turn down the sound watch the beautiful scenes (ornithopters over NY, the mountain base battle, Totenkopf's office, the Ark). Occasionally, the compositing of the flesh-and-blood actors and the CG world didn't quite work, especially when the lighting wasn't quite right—for example, in the underwater battle Angelina Jolie was all shiny, like they'd sprayed her with silver paint.

Also, can I just say at this point that, with respect to Gwyneth Paltrow, I don't see the attraction? She's medium-pretty, I suppose, but her voice just grates after a while. There's only so much nasal I can handle, and she's so nasal that sometimes she sounds like a Brit imitating an American accent. (I'm thinking of Peri from Dr. Who, here.)

Anyway, Sky Captain is good fun if it's the sort of thing you're into, but probably only moderately entertaining otherwise.

Extra Obscure Addendum: When Frankie's huge flying heli-carrier came on the screen, emblazoned with a 50-foot-high Union Jack, it occurred to me that they should have been accompanied by a line from a song on Sealab 2021. It's sung to the tune of "Rule Britannia", and it goes, "Dig these choppers! These choppers can't be beat!" (Listen to it here.)

This is how my brain works, apparently. The song's not even really about helicopters. The "choppers" they refer to are teeth, and the next line is, "Corn on the cob is one of our favorite things to eat!" Still, maybe they'll dub it into the (inevitable) super-special director's cut for me.

Hmm, on rereading, this seems like a pretty scatterbrained review—sorry for the free association. If you want something more coherent, try this post over at Byzantium's Shores or this review over at Locus.

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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Frankie's flying squadron was all-girl? Huh. The things you miss.

I left this movie with the opinion that Gwyneth Paltrow can't act her way out of wet paper bag. That may be a tad harsh, but Jennifer Jason Leigh did a much, much, MUCH better sassy lady reporter in The Hudsucker Proxy.

But Jude Law is hot.

And you could totally tell they were all acting to greenscreen. Pity.

Posted by: The Wife at Oct 3, 2004 1:01:25 PM

Yeah, I didn't notice it was all girls either, but I've read it in several different articles on the 'net, so I guess I was too distracted by the COOL PLANES to notice the pilots. You should be thrilled.

Posted by: The Tensor at Oct 3, 2004 7:12:00 PM