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Visual splendor lifts ‘Sky Captain’ above its genre

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, February 8, 2005

It’s not every day that a movie is jaw-droppingly beautiful. “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” is one of the rare movies where every scene looks like a work of art. Which in a way, they were.The first thing that should be known about the film is that every scene was filmed in front of a blue screen. That means that every background was created on a computer, digitally worked upon so that every pixel is perfect. This in turn creates some truly spectacular images never before seen on film. The visuals can even be described as breathtaking, a trait that not many movies can claim.The movie is based on the radio broadcasts and stories of the early 1900s. That means that a new amazing image is presented every couple of minutes. Giant robots, flying fortresses and genetically created monsters grace the silver screen in all their computer-generated glory. Anyone with even the slightest bit of knowledge of the cartoons, comics and broadcasts of that age will find something familiar and nostalgic about the movie.There is a downside to the nature of the movie however. This is not a typical action film and expecting it to be filled with the clichéd look of an action film would be a disservice. Calling the movie cheesy, and the plot contrived would be valid criticisms, but would also be a disservice to the point of the movie. For many films of the film, those would be part of the reasons why it works so well as a tribute to old radio programs.The actors do a commendable job, considering their unique situation. All of their actions are performed in front of a blue screen, so they have to react to things that do not exist. Jude Law does a great job in his role of the Sky Captain, acting serious on call and hamming it up when necessary as well. Gwyneth Paltrow gives a commendable performance as the reporter covering the Sky Captain’s exploits. Both act convincingly in front of the blue screen and meld into the computer generated backgrounds well.The rest of the cast perform admirably against the blue screen as well. Indeed, it’s often quite difficult to separate the computer-generated extras from the flesh-and-blood ones. If any one movie will be remembered for blending what is real and fake, this is it.A significant amount of time went into creating this movie, and it shows in the special features on the DVD. There are commentaries, making-of documentaries and behind-the-scenes features. They show different aspects of how the movie was created, and all the time that was put into creating the amazing scenarios within the movie. The extras are very interesting and fun to watch, especially from a purely technical standpoint.”Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” is a visually astounding movie, one that never fails to impress with each progressive scene. Do not make the mistake that millions did by not seeing this movie. It is unfortunate the movie bombed in the box office, as it would have been great to see more of the Sky Captain’s exploits. This movie is a unique gem, unlikely to be imitated anytime soon.