it was worth the wait. it was most definitely worth the wait. [b]Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow[/b] even managed to exceed my sky high expectations (pun intended), which is pretty amazing since it's been atop of my must-see list ever since i first heard of it. i was even nervous that my high expectations would diminish my enjoyment of the film, but i'm so happy all my hopes and dreams were completely fulfilled. i am admittedly a sucker for films of great visual beauty and uniqueness so this really is my sort of movie, but damn, what a ride! from frame 1 it just grabbed me, and never let go until the end credits rolled.
the digital effects, and the style Kerry Conran used, certainly is an acquired taste.. i can understand that it didn't attract the audiences, but boy did they miss out on something sweet. this is how you use digital effects on a large scale.. all too often films just toss in effects for effects sake, with little point or purpose.. restraint is rarely shown and even if [b]Sky Captain[/b] isn't exactly restrained, it feels like a whole other beast than so many other visual effects-driven films of the last 5 years or so. Conran used the digital effects as a tool to achieve something he couldn't possibly have done with physical sets, and it's the opinion of this reviewer that he pulled it of splendidly. surely not every single effect in every single frame is photorealistically perfect, but i honestly haven't seen many films that have been flawless ([b]A.I. Artificial Intelligence[/b] would be the only one, i think). 99% of the visual effects in [b]Sky Captain[/b] are as great as i could've hoped for though, which is quite the accomplishment since almost everything, aside from the actors and a few props, was done digitally. groundbreaking work, really, even if the technique isn't necessarily a new invention. as for the style, i have heard some saw they made it look soft to cover up flaws in the visual effects.. honestly, i don't buy that. i wouldn't claim to be an expert on older films, but i have certainly seen a whole handful of films from the era the film takes place in (late 30's, early 40's) that have a soft, dim look to them, and it seems rather clear that this was what Conran always wanted and intended. and for me, that works wonderfully since it gives the film that truly different look from anything else we've seen in.. forever?
[b]Sky Captain[/b] isn't all about the visual effects though, it does have a plot, actors and a whole lot of other elements in it too. if we start with the story, surely it's perhaps nothing revolutionary but it does it's job for sure and that is to offer up a whole lot of action and adventure. the film may be a little too slimmed down, with not enough slower, character building parts, but that's a minor complaint because it really offered up one amazing sequence after another, hurdling towards it's finale. and considering how much it'd probably cost them just to add another 10 minutes, given all of it is done digitally, it's understandable that they slimmed the story down to the bare necessities (though i read the upcoming DVD release will have deleted scenes.. hmm). [b]Sky Captain[/b] is no [b]Raiders of the Lost Ark[/b], but it offered up an interesting and exciting story that certainly works for me.
as for the acting, well, it's not really that much to speak of since it's not exactly an actor's movie. i actually thought all of them did a good job with it though, especially considering it was all shot on a bluescreen stage (which tends to make actors stiffen up a bit since they have nothing to really draw from in their surroundings). not sure if any one of them have done any other films that have been shot this much against bluescreen, but i think they did well with it, even if it's not really anything worth mentioning as career-topping performances or anything. Jude Law made for a pretty damn good hero in Sky Captain, and i was surprised by how much i liked Gwyneth Paltrow in this film.
lastly, i'd like to mention the film's other technical aspects, especially the art direction, sound and score in particular. the art direction on this film deserves to be nominated for the Oscar if you ask me, but of course it most likely won't since it didn't really have any tangiable art direction or physical sets.. i say, art direction is art direction, whether it's digitally or physically achieved. for my money, this is the art direction to beat for 2004. if the Academy can't recognize great design for what it is, then screw them! one can only hope that they sense that it's time to take a step into the future, and i hope they sense it with this film. the sound (sound editing in particular) should also be commended since it had to be done completely from scratch, much like any animated film.. maybe it's not quite as sharp as [b]The Incredibles[/b], but it's certainly terrific work. finally, there's Edward Shearmur's great, great adventurous score.. i'd been listening to this for weeks before i actually got to see the film, and the main theme is one of the best adventure themes i've heard since John Williams' score for [b]Raiders of the Lost Ark[/b]. again, this isn't as good as [b]Raiders of the Lost Ark[/b] or anything, but i definitely think it deserves to be mentioned.
[b]Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow[/b] might not be for everyone, but i hope more people give it a shot once it's out on DVD because it's one hell of a fun ride. like i said, it just grabs hold and doesn't let go, a rollercoaster ride of a movie, really. and a total visual feast too in the meantime. if you're looking for a film experience that's both exhilarating and unique, this is the film to watch. i had such a blast watching this, and i can't wait to watch it over and over again once i get the DVD.
****½ stars out of five.