19 September 2004

Sky Captain, the biggest waste of Art Direction since Fifth Element

I just saw Sky Captin and the World of Tomorrow, and there's never been a movie that took me out of the film so many times. While the posters show off some of the gorgeous art direction in this film, the film is terrible. Over and over again something happens -- whether in plot, character, or effects -- that takes you right out of the film.

* "Paley", the boss character at Gwyneth Paltrow's newspaper, is trying to be Lou Grant. But they forgot that the fruff-but-caring character has to be gruff before he can be caring. His first line is, "Polly, I don't want you getting mixed up in this."

* A scientist steps on a plate which passes him through the Van de Graf generator and turns him into bones... bones which have a richly textured, pitted look like absolutely nothing else in the entire movie (can you say, "Additional Visual Effects by...").

* Jude Law's P-40 (the Flying Tigers plane) flies from New York to Nepal. And back (admittedley, partway back he does run out of fuel).

After seeing the movie, I read some of the background information about how it's the "first live-action picture made entirely with computer-generated sets." Both this movie and Final Fantasy show why that's a bad idea; conveyance of emotions is not supported by the performances or flow in this movie. We've seen the lead actors be good elsewhere, so you can't blame it on them... From the footage I've seen so far, Polar Express later this year may put another nail in the coffin of the idea that performance capture and virtual sets are a good way to make [an entire] movie.

There is a lot of good work in the film (primarily art direction, but also Giovanni Rabisi as the show-stealing sidekick. "I meant, throw something" is a great line. If you're cursed enough to see this film, be sure to watch for him!

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