Some of you know I had started work on an online comic. It was to be a pulp comic for only 10cents a week. Called Dark Tomorrow it was to take place in a retrofutristic 1939 Berlin. The hero was to be a female pilot with a robot sidekick, fighting mad scientists and other pulp fodder. All in a muted grey palette, German expressionism angles with dirgibles and monsters. Then Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow... As soon as I saw the first sneak peaks my heart sunk and Dark Tomorrow went on hold. Last weekend I finally got to see the movie and a little relief, came over me. It was a different concept with similar tone and look, but still different. So next year after all the Star Wars hoopla, I plan to reintroduce the Dark Tomorrow...
But with a different name.
So that is where I’m coming from when I enter the theater excited to see something close to what I’ve been dreaming of. And Sky Captain doesn’t disappoint from the opening sequence of the Hindenburg III docking at the Empire State building it’s a 30’s future dream come true. Every scene comes straight from an Amazing Stories or Weird Tales cover. The movie becomes a game of recognizing every reference, from Godzilla to 1138. Even the Wizard of Oz sneaks in there several times. The movie looks great. But sometimes all this looking for Waldos takes you out of the story. The actors filmed this all on blue screen and it feels it. They are separate from the action, stilted. There is never any sense of danger or an Indy Jones style rollercoaster ride.
I want when that P-40 dives, the feeling that maybe the wings are going to come off, rivets popping , engine roaring. Just think of those 30’s, 40’s backscreens of couples in a car at night. You never feel as though those headlights behind them are going to suddenly crash into them. Sky Captain has this problem with everything, giant robots should terrify, not just look cool. I think about Jurassic Park (yes that movie has problems) But there are times the CG dinos really feel like they are bearing down on you. Is it the fact there is more of a set? I don’t know? I just couldn’t relate to the danger and it reminded me of the SW prequels.
Is this a problem with the digital backlot? It should work though, because animation still allows you to identify with characters and feel their emotions. Think Bambi. Perhaps directors need to approach filmmaking differently now with digital. I just don’t know.
And then the story is just a pastiche of ideas with the witty banter lacking oomph and there isn't enough tension between Gwyneth and Jude Law. Instead Gwyneth seems just whiny and not enough of the strong female of Katherine Hepburn or even the female lead in the first Indiana Jones. Though it is fun as they travel around to exotic locales solving this mystery, and finally meeting Sir Laurence Olivier. The Wizard.
But despite my criticism overall I really enjoyed Sky Captain and hope there is a sequel, there is so much potential for this first time director and concepts. An amazing freshman effort, I just wanted a senior project.