BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Sky Captain ...

What a shock ... I actually went to a movie on its opening day! Yesterday, The Wife was going to take The Girls up to Dojo, but wussed out on it (I was home still trying to get our computer stuff up and running for the new business ... I still need to set up the DSL wireless LAN this weekend). Daughter #1 has a half-day next Friday, and I was suggesting to go see Sky Captain then, but somehow it seemed like a better idea for last night. We caught the 6:15 showing and then took The Girls over to their favorite, The Rainforest Cafe, for dinner.

Sky Captain was pretty good ... more amazing of how it was done than the film itself. Certainly, it drew on a lot of sources that were sort of sub-referencing through my mind all through the movie (the floating airfields ala S.H.I.E.L.D. for example). If you havent read about it ... the whole movie is done wih CGI sets ... the actors worked against a bluescreen on a floor grid that showed where things were going to be. The props that they actually handled were real, but everything else was filled in via computer. Now, CGI has come a long way ... think of FarAway in Shrek2 as an example of "sets" done in the computer (or, for that matter, all the exterior shots from the Babylon5 series) ... and (while I've personally not played any computer games in the past decade) there's that whole "game reality" out there.

The scenery in S.C. was sort of in between the Shrek2 and the computer game levels, flowing animation like in Shrek, while striving for a "reality" like in the games. In many ways S.C. remided me of Disney's unappreciated Treasure Planet, where at the end I found myself thinking "What awesome effects!" before realizing that the whole movie was "effects" in that it was animation. There were only about five points in S.C. where I was "disappointed" with the CGI ... which, given the totality of the movie, should not be a big deal, but at those points it "breaks the illusion" as much as seeing the wires holding up a flying character in a regular movie ... I'd detail the points where they happened, but that would be "spoilers", so let's just say "boxes in mine too flat", "fires in hangar too 'game-y" or 'linear" (should have used that algorithm developed for the dragon in Shrek!)", "parachutes folding into ocean", "crew running towards plane (too 'Shrek-like' human motion)", and "palace-city looking like a bar painting (only the waterfalls looking 'real')" ... at each of those scenes the "seamlessness" shifted and suddenly it was like watching an inverted Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which was disconcerting until you moved into the next shot and sort of got back into the illusion.

Daughter #1 really liked it, and #2 made it through almost the whole thing (she started to freak out with the dinosaurs, and had The Wife take her out with about 15 mintues left in the film). As far as plot, the best parts were the subtle jealousies between the two female leads and the stuff like the real meaning of the number on Sky Captain's plane. #1 was disappointed in the humor, as she thought it was going to be funnier, but most of the humor was for adults (tongue-in-cheek stuff from old Sci-Fi movies and comic books), certainly she wouldn't get why it was funny for them to be referring to "World War 1" in 1939 (rather than "The Great War" or some such). There were some hoots in there though ... I even think I saw Godzilla on a newspaper cover. The movie ends abrupty, without even trying to tie up various loose ends, and there's plenty of room to spin off sequels.

I wonder if this approach will "revolutionize the film industry" ... many of the "sets" reminded me of those in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which (while using a lot of CGI itself), spent a heck of a lot of money on locations and sets that S.C. just spun out of the computer. As this technology develops, it would likely be quite the temptation to spend the budget on actors (no doubt how S.C. could have three "names" involved), and have them work against a bluescreen in a warehouse. This could actually be something like the advent of "talkies", where the silent film actors with bad voices were suddenly out of work, if the "bluescreen" model becomes the norm ... only actors who can ACT (i.e., interact with nothing and make it look like something) would succeed. Anyway ... seeing Sky Captain was well worth the time and money!

Well ... it's back to messing with the computers today ... I'm hoping that this wireless LAN thing is not going to be more of a pain in the ass than it has to be (i.e., I know that I have to put cards in five computers, but I sure hope that the signal goes around corners and isn't screwed up by aluminum studs in the wall).

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