A Digital Universe
I watched Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow this evening and I must say that I really enjoyed the movie. It is absolutely incredible what the director--a first time filmmaker--did with digital technology to create the film's world. Basically, nearly everything in the movie except the actors is CG and it all looks marvelous.
The film has an old school, comic book/pulp science fiction type feel to it. I can't quite describe it, but you should have some idea if you've seen the trailer. Actually, if you've seen The Iron Giant, just imagine that brought to life and you might start to have an idea of what you'll see when you watch the movie.
Unfortunately, the writing doesn't live up to the visuals. That's not to say it's terrible, but it certainly is lacking. Overall, it's a really fun adventure story, but the characters are not nearly fleshed out enough to make the movie truly great. There's plenty of entertainment here, but not as much depth as there needs to be.
With the main character, Joe Sullivan, the lack of depth is obscured by the fact that Jude Law puts in one hell of a performance. Even working with thin material, he brings the character to life very well and gives him a great sense of fun, surety and mischievousness. However, Polly Perkins--the other main character, played by Gwyneth Paltrow--doesn't come across as well. She's likeable enough, but the writing really hurts here. Paltrow is game for the role, but she's not quite able to overcome the script deficiencies. Too often, the character comes across as distant and cold when it feels like she's supposed to be the exact opposite.
Yet there's no denying this is one hell of a movie. The visuals are amazing and the story is fun and exciting. The action sequences are very compelling, with some great aerial battles. Still, I can't help but imagine how amazing this would have been with a topnotch script.
I still think I'm going to buy this on DVD, though. If nothing else, this is a movie that shows just how far filmmakers can go with CGI these days. This puts the new Star Wars movies to shame in terms of effective use of computer imagery. Kerry Conran, the director, didn't just use digital effects for gee whiz effect--he used them to create the entire visual feel of the movie. He crafted a complete and coherent universe with computer graphics, rather than just using them for action setpieces. This movie lays the groundwork for some exciting film projects in the future. I can't wait to see them.