Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
I feel bad. I didn’t read the reviews I ran yesterday closely, and that intensely negative one that started off the column may well have been fake. There were no chapter titles in the film that I saw, and this guy specifically mentioned how much he didn’t like that device. They cut the chapter titles almost seven months ago from the film, so whatever he saw, it wasn’t what screened at Paramount yesterday.
We do have a couple of new reviews from people who were there, though, so let’s kick it off:
Hi Harry... haven't had anything to post in a while... but I'm sure you'll appreciate this! This is fairly spoiler free.
OK... so last night at the historic Paramount Studio Theater, I sat with the first audience ANYWHERE as we watched the new film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I was really looking forward to this, being an animation junkie and recognizing all of the Fliescher-esqe designs in the trailer. What I got was so much more. First off let's talk about the design. While indeed it does give the sense of a 1939 vision of Metropolis with its art deco buildings, moody pastel palate, and straight skirts, we also get an all-encompassing sense of cinematic grandeur, not seen in motion pictures now a days. I was really swept away by how enormous this movie felt. There is a lot of old school Hollywood style visuals. And as much as this is a love letter to the pulp-era Sci Fi/ Adventure comics, this is a serenade of Hollywood films of the late thirties. And while everything feels so retro-rific!... there's no denying that the weapons and robots are so cool, that every kid will want one and they will sell millions of toys. They just ROCK!
Next, the cast. Jude Law really revives the serial hero here. Playing him very straight and very sincere. Here is a man dedicated, but has a few flaws. He's not perfect, and he doesn't apologize for his imperfections. It doesn't hurt that he's so damn pretty to look at either, even all bloody and beaten. Next up is Gwyneth. Probably the weakest link. The character isn't bad... in fact, the character is pretty awesome. She takes the intrepid reporter to some near despicable levels, while still keeping her likeable. I just feel Gwyneth was miscast. I would have liked someone with a bit of an edge, a Jennifer Jason Leigh, a Drew Barrymore, even an unknown, I just felt she kind of had the whole Natalie Portman "how the hell am I supposed to act against a blue wall?" syndrome. Giovanni Ribisi comes in for the quirky comic relief, and does a fine job. But the real scene chewer is our beloved Angelina Jolie. DAMN she is fierce. For the 15 minutes she's on screen, she eats it alive. She devours her expositional lines, and spits up such subtext, I almost felt there was a play by play of her sex life with Joe (Sky Captain).
The Story, not since Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (I was too young to see Raiders in theaters), have I been whisked away on such an adventure. I felt like a 9 year old sitting in the theater, going along for every big challenge. The chase scene through New York was like riding the rollercoaster around the New York New York Hotel in Vegas. Each turn led to a new thrill and new obstacle. And I wanted more. The villains motivations are intriguing and less of the maniacal world dominating Dr. Evil type you would expect in this movie. And the world wide chase to stop him from completing his mission seemed to fit within the parameters of the world the filmmakers have established. Nothing seemed too extreme, no matter how fantastic it was. Some of the effects weren't finished, and there were scenes in black and white (probably needed to create the pale Technicolor look of the film), but for the most part everything was as it should be. I wouldn't change a thing.
Overall this movie is going to be the one people are talking about. Geeks across the world are going to think this movie is made just for them, as there are a plethora of numerical, visual and literal nods to many masters of their fields, a full on hardon for Sci-Fi's champions of the page and screen. I only hope Paramount backs this movie with a full campaign. As kids will love it, if they just get to the theater, Adults will love it as it makes them feel young again. I can't wait till you see it so you can tell me your thoughts.
The Horseless Headman
Here’s another take on the film:
Hello Ain't It Cool--
Last night I attended the world's first screening of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, and just wanted to share my thoughts. I'm a long time reader, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to post my first review. Let me preface by saying the gorgeous digital print we saw wasn't finished yet--certain scenes were still in bare-bones animatic, and this wierd little "Work in Progress" logo kept popping up on the lower right hand corner of the screen, but for the most part, the effects were in finished form.
And what effects! This is the most visually imaginative film I've seen since BATMAN gave us Anton Furst's incredible design for Gotham City. The New York of SKY CAPTAIN looks the way the you dream it would look. The art direction takes a cue from the modernist designs of the 1930s, offering a breathtaking view of a city simultaneously suggesting the past and distant future. This movie deserves an Oscar for it's incredible art and costume designs.
Set in 1939, the story is a throwback to the Rebulic serials of Flash Gordon, and the Superman cartoons produced by Max Fleisher which populated the cinema of the same era. Ace fighter pilot Sky Captain, played by Jude Law with the perfect note of "gee whiz" charisma, comes to the aid of reporter Polly Prince (Gwenyth Paltrow) when giant robots invade New York, stealing the city's power generators. The plot thickens as Polly learns that several scientists involved with the design of the robots have been disappearing, and the appearance of a Mysterious Woman (Bai Ling) hints that something far more sinister is afoot.
The plot takes our heroes all over the globe in search of the lost scientists, from Shambala to Atlantis to the Lost World, all the while bringing one great action sequence after another, all set against some of the most beautiful settings to ever grace the screen. The film is one big homage to Fritz Lang, Victor Fleming, and most of all George Lucas, right down to the TK421 and 1138 references. My hat is off to the filmmakers, who obviously chose this story to showcase a very specific kind of technology, much in the same way Lucas developed STAR WARS, or more notably, the way Lisburger developed TRON.
If the film is a visual masterpiece, it also makes for pleanty of popcorn munching fun. Law brings to mind the matinee idols of Jon Hall and Buster Crabbe, all the while having a ball with his role. Having just as much fun, Giavonni Rabbissi, Michael Gambon, and especially Angelina Jolie (in a scene-stealing performance as a royal airforce captain) also bring marvelous energy to the film, as does Bai Ling, providing a memorable screen villan in the same vein as Darth Maul and Lady Deathstrike. Paltrow, while bringing to mind the glamour-puss starlets of the 30's, is decidedly miscast in her role. Polly Prince certainly requires a look of 30s glamour, but her spitfire personality and comic relief is lost in Paltrow's blank performance. The role begs for a leggy actress with energy and wit--Charlize Therorn and Naomi Watts come to mind, and though her recent credits wouldn't suggest it, the perfect choice for this role is Drew Barrymore. P olly Prince needs as much energy and charisma as Sky Captain, and Paltrow falls flat.
The movie has a few other blotches, though nowhere near as glaring as Paltrow. The movie could use a bit more exposition to explain the origins of Sky Captain and his island base, as well as explaining the motives of the villians, who I dare not mention here. There's also one glaring continutity error throughout the movie, as characters refer to World War I by name before World War II would have ever started.
But nevermind. This is the kind of movie that you enjoy the more movies you've seen, if not for it's freshness and ambition than for it's geeky references. It's also the kind of movie to build a franchise on. After last night, I'm ready to see SKY CAPTAIN VS THE MARTIANS or SKY CAPTAIN AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. Hopefully, the Paramount marketing department will put some effort into promoting this, since the film is far more deserving than say their STAR TREK or MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchises. Moreover, the movie realizes what Roger Ebert once observed in his review of THE ROCKETEER--that great pulp movies, like say RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, use their origins as inspiration, rather than model. Compare RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to TOMB RAIDER, or THE ROCKETEER to STAR WARS, and you'll get the point. SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is of the latter variety--a movie that knows its goofy origins just enough to give them edge.& nbsp;Without a doubt, this is one of the best movies of the summer, and one of the most interesting movies of the year.
3 1/2 Stars out of Four.
And incidentally, call me Froggie Dude =).
If I can get all these updates finished in time, and get writing, I’ll have my review up in a few hours. It’s interesting to see the reactions as they roll in so far.