Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Sky Captain and the Theater of Tomorrow

msmemory IM'ed me at midafternoon, and suggested that we do Sky Captain as our weekly date. In particular, she pointed out that it was showing at the Premium Cinema in Framingham, which we've been meaning to check out anyway. We went to the 7:30 show.

The theater is obscenely expensive ($18 per person), but they do roll out the red carpet for you. Some details:
  • There is an adequate restaurant built in: nothing to write home about, but not bad, and the prices are only a smidgeon higher than normal. You can eat outside the theater in the restaurant, or eat at the retractable tables built into the seats, or both (if the movie starts, you can bring your food inside).

  • The seats are sinfully comfortable: cushy, well-made, with tons of legroom. They are basically decent fixed armchairs. A few specific seats are special: there are a couple of loveseats off on the sides, and a few rockers. Seating is chosen when you buy your tickets, so there's no rush to get inside. (The fourth row seems to be the optimal seats, but the seventh row where we were is still fine.) I would strongly recommend reservations if you go -- it lets you choose decent seats, and they do seem to often sell out.

  • Popcorn and soda are complementary with your tickets. That's actually worth something like four bucks right there, which goes a little ways towards making the tickets less insanely expensive.

  • The basics of the screen are generally solid. It's small (since it's a fairly small theater), but appropriately proportioned. Sound is excellent (THX built in). It's all raked stadium seating, so even I didn't have to worry about seeing over the people in front of me.
Overall, while it's too expensive for everyday, it makes a nice occasional splurge. We'll probably go back when it seems convenient.

Sky Captain was about what I expected: not high art by any means, but a fun ride and a loving homage to the movies that it's aping.

The pacing is a bit breathless, especially at the beginning. I think that they were trying to intentionally pace it like a serial, so there needs to be something huge happening every five or ten minutes. This is fun, although it does get a smidgeon monotone after a while. The action scenes are, unsurprisingly, excellent, and keep getting bigger as the story progresses.

The acting isn't deep, but it isn't meant to be. It does manage to hit just the note it is aiming for, feeling very much like those serials of the 30's. The movie is pretty much entirely Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, with everyone else in very secondary roles. He's essentially playing a classic comic-book hero, and she is Lois Lane to the core. She is not, blessedly, a screamer in this story, but the high heels jokes are rife. Angelina Jolie doesn't really deserve the equal billing -- her part is only a shade bigger than a cameo -- but she does get to play the coolest person in the world: Nick Fury, Blackhawk and several other such heroes all rolled up in one. And a young (yes, young) Lawrence Olivier plays a crucial role in the story. I need to find out more about the background of this.

The plot is thin as tissue paper, of course, and doesn't stand up to any sort of logical examination, but it isn't meant to -- just assume that suspension of disbelief is essential to this story. (The same is even truer of the science.)

The effects are delightful, of course. Despite the entire film being bluescreened, you really never get a sense of that: the sets have a fine sense of depth, mass and reality, and the computer gets to play with lots of imagery that would be too expensive to build. The cinematography evolves subtly but cleverly over the course of the film: color depth, in particular, is used as an important effect in the story. (There's a very appropriate nod to The Wizard of Oz early on.) The gadgetry is nicely done: true to the early scifi aesthetic, while foreshadowing the full plot that eventually comes to light.

The script is never brilliant, but never dreadful, either. My favorite line in the movie is actually the last, but again it generally hits the tone it's going for.

Which, I suppose, really is the summary of the film: it knows what it's trying to do, and does it. If you go in expecting a high-end homage to the classic serials, you won't be disappointed. On its own merits, it is good although not great: a solid B effort, in my estimation...

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