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03 October 2004 @ 01:10 am
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow  
Not a great movie - not even a good movie. It gets a thumb squarely in the middle - if you get a student discount on rentals and have access to a biggish TV, make Sky Captain a considered choice.

The special effects were much better than average, and if I had known going in that it's almost an homage to the 40's era comic-book-style movie, I might have enjoyed it much more. The characters are entirely two-dimensional (even Law's former love interest with Jolie falls flat), and entirely predictable. The plot leaves nothing to the imagination - by the time we find out a mad genius wants to destroy the world, we don't really care, and are not entirely surprised. All the exposition is force-fed in tiny chunks to the audience, and it's always too little too late - by the time we realize why it's And the World of Tomorrow, it doesn't even matter - the climax is already upon us.

The main problem with the story is that the protagonists are continuously willing to lay everything on the line for the wildest shot at something that can drive the plot. One scrap of paper held up with gum sparks a trek to the Himalayas. I almost wished they died slowly of radiation poisoning in the uranium mines - the plot would have moved about as fast.

The setting and the effects will probably be the only parts of Sky Captain worth remembering. There are some especially cheesy rendered sequences, but the better part of the movie is fun to watch. Not mind-blowing beautiful - just fun to watch. There is a perpetual gauzy filter, which throws you back to halcyon days that never were, and a time in the 1940's with giant robots and no Nazis. The film keeps its retro 40's throwback feel consistent, even if it can't decide what kind of gun Sky Captain is actually carrying.

This was my largest problem with the movie as a whole - consistent references to a timeline that is never fully explained. The movie opens with a shot of Hindenberg 3, and German dialogue. World War I is constantly used as the starting point for the history of the main villain. gnfnrf and I place the movie's actual real-world time to roughly 1940-1947 - and there are no Nazis. No explanation as to why there are no Nazis, no explanation as to the victor of WWI, no explanation as to why every military person on Earth dresses like a Nazi. If Germany won, I'm okay with that - but keep mentioning how President Roosevelt is doing in office, and we're going to keep wondering how WWII's going along.
though she be but little, she is fiercehilabeans on October 4th, 2004 12:02 am (UTC)
Since the post I was just about to make would pretty much be repeating your comments, I'll add my own two cents here and save space.

I went into it expecting the '40's comic book style, and I thought they did that very well. It was pretty. It was also vague, the characters had no depth (although that did sort of fit with the comic book style), and it contained one of the most boring chase scenes I've ever watched. When Dex said he needed thirty more seconds, my mental response was, "Shit, the scene's going to last that much longer?" And every attempt they made to create a sense of urgency was immediately undermined: time constraints would arise, and the characters would immediately find ways to waste time. Five minutes to save the world? Plenty of time to talk with Polly, give her a lingering kiss, and knock her unconscious before getting on with it. Thirty seconds to get on the ship? (I was tempted to start timing the characters at that point.) Time to make a few comments, pull oneself laboriously back onto the walkway, and run a hundred yards or so before the door closes. And the fuse on the dynamite was ridiculous.

But it was pretty.
lio on October 4th, 2004 06:10 am (UTC)
All of these things were faithful to the 40s style. Even the lousy plot and characters, and the last-minute impossible moments were true to comic books of the time. Cheezy? Yes. For that, it really is a fun film to watch.

Retro-style films do something for me. I also enjoyed Pleasantville for similar reasons.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on October 4th, 2004 06:21 am (UTC)
As a big fan of the Lensman novels (so retro they don't even have TRANSISTORS, by God), I don't mind the lack of characterization so much as Law and Paltrow's refusal to play into it. Even the hackneyed plot devices would be okay if they seemed to like what they were doing, even for a second - Jolie was the only one who looked like she was having a good time.
lio on October 4th, 2004 06:27 am (UTC)
And that's why Jolie kicks ass. :)

Actually, I liked the Dex character, too. While thin, with few character features, I liked that he was the only one with any "brains" in the army for hire. The ray gun was fantastic! And his well-timed comments: "There's one way to find out.... I meant throw something."
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on October 4th, 2004 09:03 am (UTC)
Ribisi really knows how to play a character to the hilt. More Dex + More Frankie + Less Polly = Doc enjoys the movie more.
though she be but little, she is fiercehilabeans on October 4th, 2004 11:00 pm (UTC)
Total agreement. I was annoyed because I really wanted to like Polly, and she could have been an interesting character. Instead, she was mostly an encumbrance to Joe, as well as an annoying backseat driver... er, backseat pilot? And having Frankie for contrast just made Polly look worse.
Do You Wanna Be Free or You Wanna Be Right?malcubed on October 4th, 2004 08:31 am (UTC)
Had you seen the trailer? How could you not have realized this was a serial homage?
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on October 4th, 2004 08:59 am (UTC)
I had seen the one before Hellboy - my issue still stands.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on October 4th, 2004 09:04 am (UTC)
I would also maintain that just because most serials were crap doesn't mean that the movie gets off light for being crap.
Do You Wanna Be Free or You Wanna Be Right?malcubed on October 4th, 2004 03:20 pm (UTC)
No, it's because almost every Hollywood film released in any given year is crap that it gets off light for being crap.
elfdope on October 7th, 2004 08:42 pm (UTC)
It still needed a giant deathray
You have no love for bad movies. I should tie you down and make you watch my serials collection just to remind you how brilliant it all is.

This movie had:

Giant Robots
Laser guns
Shangri La
Angelina Jolie in an Eyepatch

Yes the movie was stupid, but it was brilliantly stupid.

I think you needed more popcorn. You got to remember to turn the brain off for such movies.

Thats it you just earned yourself a complete viewing of "Undersea Kingdom".
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on October 7th, 2004 09:53 pm (UTC)
Re: It still needed a giant deathray
More popcorn may be the answer.