Saturday, September 18, 2004

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - Rules! 

Alfred Hitchcock, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Gene Roddenberry. Buck Rogers, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Captain Proton, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Seaquest DSV, Babylon 5, King Kong, Land of the Lost, sci-fi, mystery, action, romance and all other types of B-movies. Kerry Conran extracted the genetic makeup from all these cinematic predecessors and mixed them up, creating a primordial ooze from which he brought forth Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow!

The Girl, FMB and I got to the theater at 7:15 for the 8:00 show to secure the perfect seats, which was successfully accomplished. We've been waiting since last December, when we first saw the trailer in the exact same theater, when we were there to see The Return of the King. We were at the Loews Boston Common, in theater 2, which is one of the giant seating capacity, enormo-screen theaters, with the best sound in town. We were in the center, right behind the aisle, so there was no one in front of us and we had a railing on which to prop our feet. And the crowd continued in until the house was full of geeks, gayboys and lesbos. I felt so at home! Then the film commenced.

It had me from the opening credits. Everything was perfectly retro with a high-tech edge. It's what the sci-fi filmakers would have created in the early days if they only had the technology to match their endless imaginations. The lighting, the music, the sound quality, the dialogue, the twists and turns. Giovanni Ribisi's stunned declaration, "Shazam!" and his collection of Buck Rogers comic books. It's set circa 1938, only different. It comes complete with background showings of the hit movies of the time, a Brownie camera, experimental ray guns, visuals of radio waves travelling across the countryside in visibly expanding rings, and camera movement across the world as a giant topographic map with the countries labeled and the compass directing the way.

Jude Law is Sky Captain, flying ace extraordinaire; Gwynneth Paltrow is Polly Perkins, girl reporter; Giovanni Ribisi is the early cool geek inventor, complete with sexy workings of his slide rule and protractor, impressive mental calculations and technobabble to beat the band; Laurence Olivier makes an awe inspiring appearance (via archive footage); and Angelina Jolie is Frankie Cook, Captain in Her Majesty's Navy and commanding officer of an elite unit. Wow, is she perfect. Her clipped accent is nothing like the also perfect one in Tomb Raider, and she's totally commanding. As Polly Perkins says, "She's quite a girl." I'll say. At one point I was thinking that Frankie is the Military Jane West to Polly's Career Girl Barbie. Although to be fair to Polly, she's got quite a bit of both Nancy Drew and Lois Lane in her as well.

Frankie is the central figure in the ultimate wow-factor sequence of the entire film. I won't give it away, but you'll know it when you see it. Many of us burst into applause at its climax. And we all applauded when the end credits began rolling. As we were standing up to exit, the leatherman behind us said that he had a sudden craving for Ovaltine and Winstons.

I can't wait to see this again, and I will no doubt put myself on the preorder list as soon as it's available. Grab your friends and head down to whatever local cineplex has the biggest screen and the best sound system. Get some popcorn, sit back, and let yourself be taken on a fabulous ride of futuristic nostalgia.

Reality Check: FMB loved it as much as I did, but she and The Dark Lord also played Darth Vader's Theme as the music to accompany their first entrance as husband and wife at their wedding reception. And she can speak Elvish.

Two quotes from The Girl:
"Oh my god, I'm embarrased to be seen coming out of the theater with all these geeks. I mean come on - look at them all!"

"I'm never going to another one of these goddammed movies with you two again."

But I heard her laughing a few times. She just won't admit it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:12 AM