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A WORLD GONE MAD

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Sep 14, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

IN A WORLD GONE MAD

By BILL WRIGHT and JOHN GRAFMAN

I’m as much a fan of retro looking sci-fi adventure as anyone, I mean, I’ve got street cred in that department. I’m an old guy (over 50) and didn’t grow up on video games. Hell, I grew up reading the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift (Sr. and Jr.). So, when you’re looking for someone to appreciate heroes surrounded by gadgets and technology far ahead of the time period, then I’m your man. Suspension of disbelief is one thing. Stupidity is quite another. I can handle the early WW ll aircraft that perform far beyond their capability. After all, the hero’s sidekick is the inventor type that customizes everything. I can even deal with a ‘storyline’ (if that’s what it is) that makes no sense at all. On the other hand, don’t go to great lengths showing how dangerous a uranium-contaminated mine is (the last surviving miner is horribly misshapen from radiation sickness), and then expect me not to question the heroines’ obsession with wanting to go back in the mine to get her camera film. If the mine is that hot, then the film is fogged beyond repair. How do I know this? Like I said, I grew up with the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift (aren’t cranky old men a pain?)

Okay, I got that out of my system. Besides the nitpicking, the movie is fun, pure (almost chaste), innocent. There were also some really cool toys. I particularly liked the bad guy aircraft, and Angelina Jolie’s airship. I’m sure that there will be a lot of carping in the various on-line sites about whether this film is a knock-off of anime, or of older films of the genre. Actually, this is a comic book on film, and a good one at that. It looks great, and the effects are fun. Unfortunately, there isn’t a real bad guy - no Lex Luthor, no nemesis. And the moral message is trowelled on a little thick. It’s an open question as to how well this will do at the box office. The PR machine needs to motivate the legions of cranky old men that grew up on Tom Swift.

- BILL WRIGHT

Somewhere over the rainbow, between action, adventure and science fiction, lies Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I wasn’t really sure what this movie would entail. During our screening, I realized that Sky Captain has a little bit of everything, but not enough of any single element to really make it gel. Sky Captain tries to capitalize on the serial feature formula suited to kids on the weekend with too much time on their hands. Kids can accept what adults look at as being total fantasy. The monochromatic, black and white feel works for movies made when this was the only option. Sadly, it filters the visuals with the same satisfaction of looking through dark, dirty sunglasses. The humor is sporadic, and the love interest subplot never goes far enough. This fantasy adventure has plenty of over-the-top action to keep the audience’s attention - even if the other elements don’t. While much of the film is CGI, the tried and true physical models of the likes created by Don Pennington on the P-40 go hand-in-hand to give this movie some bite. Planes, giant robots, rockets and ray guns are some of the best items, especially if you are into toys for big boys (yeah, I could use a ray gun now and then in traffic).

The time frame is prior to WW II, and the fear of war and secret weapons of all shapes and sizes loom large in the hearts and minds of America - not altogether different from today. This movie does earn an A+ for creative machines and some radical transportation. From flying machine to submersibles, Sky Captain has them all with the strange exception of automobiles. They have everything imaginable, but no cars! This should have been a warning sign to the movie’s producers. The cast members, all talented in their own right, don’t interact convincingly enough. Even the strained relationship of Gweneth Paltrow and Jude Law doesn’t have magic to it. While this shoot ‘em up tale comes off as semi-entertaining for adults, kids might find this excellent matinee material. Ultimately, this picture needs a glue that holds it all together for both kids as well as those born before the 90s. But hey, Harrison Ford can’t be in everything. Or can he?

- JOHN GRAFMAN

For more information please go to www.paramount.com

 

 

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