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SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW ($30) is a visual masterpiece. This motion picture is a genuinely spectacular homage to the movie serials of yesteryear, brought to life with all the tender loving care that the digital technology of the 21st can offer. SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is truly a triumph of art deco science fiction production design that brings to life an amazing re-imagining of a 1939, that that filmmakers of the last century could only dream about. Of course, SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is also a brilliant exercise in synthetic filmmaking, one in which, the actors were photographed in front of blue screens; interacting with simple props and one another, while the film’s extraordinary backgrounds were completely realized in the digital domain.

What I really like about the plot of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is the fact that maintains that "aw shucks" innocence of a vintage 1930s serial in its telling of its fantastical tale, instead of trying to play things in the smarter and slyer fashion of modern movie. In fact, the storyline perfectly captures the essence of this lost form of movie entertainment, moving from one exciting moment to the next, as though it were building cliffhanger after cliffhanger, in a multi chaptered tale that would keep its audience coming back to the theater week after week.

SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW stars Jude Law as Joe Sullivan, the heroic 'Sky Captain' of the film’s title, who finds his services in great demand when the world comes under attack by an army of gigantic robots. Also entrenched in this epic mystery is Joe’s former flame, a tenacious lady reporter named Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow), who has connected the giant robot attacks to the disappearances of a number of prominent international scientists that once worked together on a project headed up by a reclusive, seemingly mad genius named Totenkopf (Sir Laurence Olivier). However, finding Totenkopf and unraveling his ultimate objective leads our heroes on a round the world adventure that requires just a little help from Captain Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie), and her amphibious assault squadron, which she commands from on board a sky borne British aircraft carrier. The cast of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW also features Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Gambon, Ling Bai, Omid Djalili, Trevor Baxter, Julian Curry and Peter Law.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Having seen SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW in the theater, I can say that this is an utterly superb looking presentation of this synthetic world and the motion picture’s intended look. SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW features a slightly soft focus look that allows the live action and the digital world to blend seamlessly. Much of the time, the colors try to emulate the black and white look of an old movie serial by utilizing a sepia toned palette; however there are splashes of stronger hues throughout. Blacks appear velvety, whites are clean and the contrast has purposely blown out highlights on occasion. The image itself appears flawless and would seem to have been taken from a digital source. Digital compression artifacts rarely make their presence known.

SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW comes with a terrific Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The sound mix is highly aggressive, and like the movie’s imagery, it is not bound by reality, thus allowing the sound designers free reign to create a big expansive sonic world that is perfectly married to the visuals. All of the outlying channels are fully implemented, for both the big effects scenes and the smaller, more intimate moments. Fidelity is excellent, with the music always maintaining a full-bodied quality and the sound effects coming across in a completely believable fashion. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. A French Surround track has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a great complement of supplemental materials. Two separate audio commentaries are featured on the DVD, the first is with producer John Avnet, while the second includes writer/director Kerry Conran, production designer Kevin Conran, animation supervisor Steve Yamamoto and visual effects supervisor Darin Hollings.

Brave New World is a two-part program that looks at the making of this unusual and complex film. Chapter 1 runs twenty-eight minutes and follows the production’s evolution from simple idea, to home computer generated short film, to an actual production featuring big name movie stars. Chapter 1 also offers interviews with cast members and a look behind-the-scenes, as the actors perform in front of blue screens. Chapter 2 of the program clocks in at twenty-three minutes and spends its time focusing on the lengthy postproduction process. The Art Of World Of Tomorrow is an eight-minute program that looks at the film’s stylistic influences and how the drawings are ultimately brought to life on the screen. The Original Six Minute Short that writer/director Kerry Conran created on a personal computer, which he used to sell the idea for the film is also included, as is a gag reel and two deleted sequences.

As I stated above, SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is a visual masterpiece that serves as a wondrous homage to the old style movie serials of yesteryear. As for the DVD, Paramount has done a marvelous job with the presentation; the movie looks spectacular and sounds incredible. Of course, the extras are also terrific, as they cover the film’s unique production in extensive detail. If you love old style movie serials, or want to see something truly unique in the realm of synthetic filmmaking, you must pick up a copy of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. Highly recommended.



Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Widescreen Edition) (2004)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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