Friday, November 09, 2007

Odd Movies

I watched "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" last night. It's one of those movies that I've been meaning to watch for years but never quite got around to. Until I found my brother had it, that is. I borrowed it from him, and last night I finally had enough time to watch it.

I found it...vaguely disappointing. Visually it's a masterpiece reminiscent of Miyazaki. The design work is great. The acting is...well, better than you realize. Considering that most of the time the actors are reacting to stuff that isn't there, they do a superlative job.

But the characters themselves are flat and uninteresting. Gwyneth Paltrow looks great in retro clothing, just as I expected. Jude Law looks...well, let's just say I wouldn't turn down outfits like the ones he wore. But other than that, they just didn't do anything for me. I think I cared more about Lex than Joe or Polly--and I didn't care that much about him, either.

The writing and editing were bad. So bad, in fact, that I can't help but think it's done on purpose in homage to...something. And therein lies the problem. Homage only works if the audience if familiar with the genre being...homaged? Homagiated? I'd say it's probably homage to the old serials of the 1930's and 40's, but I've never seen them. And there is no way they could have even approached the EFX this movie has. If anything I think this may be homage to old radio plays, as a listener's imagination is the only medium that could have accommodated this kind of story.

The plot was little more than a shell, really. We were never given more than the briefest of exposition, and there were many, many places where more was needed--not just wanted, but needed.

All in all, the movie is comparable to the character Polly Perkins: Gorgeous, but not much substance. And I think that's why I struggle with this movie. It's not often that I simultaneously love and hate the same work of art.

I referenced Miyazaki (aren't I the cultural snob!) before, and in hindsight the reference is more apt than I realized. I've only seen one of his movies, "Howl's Moving Castle", and it was beautiful. But unlike in "Sky Captain", the characters were developed. There was a lot of background information glossed over, and not much exposition, but I think Miyazaki shows more skill at knowing what to explain and what to just let "be".

Visually, however, they have a lot in common--though I also rate Miyazaki higher for attention to detail. They both provide spectacle in the best sense of the word. The British flying aircraft carriers were impressive, and one of the best moments of geeky pleasure came when the British aircraft slipped their propellers from front to back to switch from airplane to submarine mode. It, okay?

So yeah. Good movie. Bad movie. Unsatisfying in that they did such a good job on some things that surely they could have done a better job on the rest of it. Oh well, it was worth everything I paid for it. (Thanks, Bro!)

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