Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (IMDB) (Netflix)
A unique blend of live action and computer-generated effects that's either a stroke of genius or a maddening compromise. Maybe both are true. It's inspired by the serials of the late 30s, where there was little confusion on gender roles and good vs. evil—evil in the form of giant robots and birdlike flying machines created by a mad scientist with an apocalyptic view of the world. Gwyneth Paltrow is the plucky reporter/photographer and Jude Law is Sky Captain, with trusty gum-chewing sidekick Giovanni Ribisi as his ur-Q.

The patter is fairly snappy, the story reasonably engaging if thin, and the artistic vision was certainly vast, but I'm not sure it will make anyone forget the Indian Jones series or Harrison Ford and Karen Allen. The integration of the live actors with the digital, well, almost everything else, is achieved by by coloring them and fuzzing them up to look slightly digital themselves. It works and is oh-so arty, but the net effect is that whole movie seems shot through fine cheesecloth, and the urge to cry out to the projectionist—"Focus!" was at times overwhelming. A yes-but recommendation.