Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow

Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
Since the movie is in the old school Noir style, I would like to have seen the cover reflect that more. I guess they decided to kind of trick people by putting more modern images on the front. That way you might not realize that you are about to see a non-conventional (in a good way) movie. Therefore I don’t really like the cover in comparison to how it truly reflects the innovation of Sky Captain.

The menus are all new and improved with Blu-Ray Disc. You can pull up the menu anytime during the movie as a semi-transparent overlay. The menu is slick and stylish and very easy to use. It has a hint of the mechanical styling’s from the movie, but it’s not that distinctive. I’m afraid that all HD menus will end up looking the same. Let’s hope not.

Features: 8/10

  • Commentary By Producer Jon Avnet – This guy is a bit too Hollywood producery for me, but he’s enthusiastic about the movie and he’s not too technical or boring to listen to. He’s not too much fun to listen to either 🙂
  • Commentary By Writer & Director Kerry Conran – This guy is almost in a coma, or that’s how he sounds. He’s calm and collected and if you didn’t know he was so obsessed with this whole project you might think he lacks enthusiasm for it, but that’s not the case. He talks about details and the experiences of making this movie with great affection which makes it a good commentary to listen to on your second pass of the movie.
  • Brave New World Chapter 1 & 2 – From conception to completion they have given us a great documentary style extra showing everything from the crappy building they chose as their studio, to meeting a lot of the behind the scenes people. Those slaves to the CGI who spend countless hours of their lives in dark rooms with computers. It’s a good set of extras for sure.
  • The Art Of The World Of Tomorrow – Turning an all digital vision into a real movie isn’t an easy task. You get to see the concept drawings, the process of turning the idea of a giant robot invasion into movie reality. I love that stuff.
  • The Original Six Minute Short – See the short that got Kerry Conran a movie deal. It’s amazing what one guy can do with his PC these days. It’s inspiring, if I weren’t so lazy:)
  • Deleted Scenes – Nothing here that would have added to the overall direction of the movie. Some of these deleted scenes are not finished digital products so you can see how primitive a CGI movie looks before it makes it through the finishing mill.
  • Gag Reel – A few fun shots of mistakes by actors, and some clever little digital scenes that shows how hours and hours of sitting the computer might effect the brave visual effects staff.
  • Anatomy Of A Virtual Scene – See how they can take all the different components of a shot from the live action to special effects, to digital backgrounds and more, step by step.
  • 3 HD Trailers – Whatever.

The Movie: 7/10
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a true adventure. I know that sounds like a boring opening line for a movie review, but when I thought long and hard about how to describe this CGI spectacle, adventure was the one word that kept cropping up time and time again. I could start by saying, “We’ve come a long way in the world of movie making when a film can be virtually all CGI except for the humans stuck in here and there for good measure.” Or I could say, “It doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while a movie comes along that’s so different from the rest even if it’s not perfect, it’s a wonderful change of pace.”

Not being perfect isn’t a bad thing. I did love the style of the whole thing, the film noir influences mixed with comic-book-come-to-life moments. It’s not cartoony, and it’s not shiny photo realism. It’s a bit foggy and smooth rather than sharp and detailed. This is the innovative part, for sure. You know right away this movie is not your typical Hollywood action offering, it looks different, sounds different, and feels different. My only complaint, which is completely superficial and probably enough to piss off any film enthusiast, is that once in a while I wanted things to not be soo soo dark in the beginning. I know, that’s lame since film noir is inherently steeped in the contrast between light and dark elements on the screen. It’s meant to direct the viewer to look at exactly what the director wants you to see, fair enough. I guess since taking film classes so long ago in college I have learned that using a technique simply for the sake of it can be a challenge when it’s competing with the story and characters.

That’s the imperfection with Sky Captain. Sometimes I was so hypnotized by what I was looking at I skipped over a few of the other things going on, like bits of dialogue or nuances of the actors’ performances. That sounds like I’m easily distracted, but when you see this film, you will understand. I wanted to take in every little morsel of the visual feast this movie offers but it can take some concentration not to miss anything from one end of the screen to the other. That’s my own fault, but then again, if some of the “effects” had been toned down a bit, or even fine-tuned I might not have been so distracted sometimes.

The film starts very dark with those directed areas of light to keep us on track and offer up a lot of old school film images, but as the story opens up and we get to know the characters, the darkness lifts. By the end of the film we are out of the shadows and into a full screen of special effects and cool images to go along with the flow of the adventure.

Speaking of performances. Honestly, a lot of the dialogue is throw back to the 30’s and 40’s films so it can be cheeky and somewhat wooden. That’s not to say it’s not clever or funny when it needs to be. Just imagine the image of a lady tied to the railroad tracks saying, “Will my hero save me?” and that kind of sums up a few of the more animated lines characters toss around between them. I love it. Don’t get me wrong. I thought the performances and the writing were spot on for the whole film. They had a sense of humor but took it very much to heart so it doesn’t come off obnoxious or with a parody effect. Just keep an open mind and don’t hold the standards you are used to for action movies to be the measuring stick for Sky Captain.

The sounds and dramatic music are worthy of a mention. It might be that we watched it on HD DVD, but I reckon that this movie just simply has a kick ass backdrop of sounds and scores that adds even more to the fantasy escape feel.

The story is so much fun and interesting. A bad guy who wants to possibly take over the world, or destroy it. A good guy who flies in to the rescue every time. And last but not least the chicks, a plucky reporter heroine who never backs down from her hardened newspaper woman exterior, except to be jealous of the other female in the flick, a tough as nails military commander with an eye patch. It all sounds so cozy and cute. You won’t know exactly whats gonna happen, which I always appreciate in a story. You can guess and re-guess, but chances are you won’t hit the nail on the head of this one. It seems to go one way, but then turns a bit, and then again. It’s not twisty with lots of plot disruptions, but it has its share of surprises. You just have to let it unfold and enjoy the ride along the way.

Value: 6/10
First of all, if you don’t have an Blu-Ray player, I would recommend adding Sky Captain to your standard DVD collection. It’s innovative and it’s a real adventure that I think you might want to watch a few times, and it’s only 10 buckaroos, or less. Now, on to the HD chatter.

Ok, so here’s where we get down and dirty. Why isn’t everyone jumping off the cliff to Blu-Ray bliss? I have one answer for you, price. It all comes down to money. At this moment in time is Blu-Ray worth the price? I don’t care if you are the guy who is obsessed with perfect picture quality and sound that blows your ears off your head. If you don’t have the cash to buy it, it ain’t gonna make it into your little home theater until you either win the lottery, get a raise, or the price comes down.

Let’s compare the Sky Captain Blu-Ray and DVD special edition discs.

The extras: HD version has one added “making of a virtual scene” feature and some HD trailers.

Image/Sound Quality: Hi Def is obviously better, along with the crisp clear sound. However, this is a movie with a unique visual style that doesn’t incorporate the sharp edges and bright natural colors that other movies have to begin with, so HD isn’t showcased as vividly as it might be with other, more traditional action flicks.

The question is, when you can get the regular DVD for 10 bucks and play it on the DVD player you already have, why spend around $500 on a new player AND twice as much for the movie on Disc? The truth is, I don’t have an answer for you.

Let’s go ahead and assume you have an Blu-Ray player. If I were to simply compare both digital versions of this particular movie, I personally don’t think this HD disc is worth twice the price of the standard DVD. You’ve got the right player so just go rent Sky Captain on HD, and save the other 10 for the Hi Def version of some other movie you must have for your new HD collection. If they had crammed a lot more extras on the disc I might have been persuaded to encourage everyone to buy it, but it doesn’t and I’m not.

Overall Score 7/10