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PHOTOGRAPHY

SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS:  106 minutes, 2 audio commentaries, Brave New World documentaries, The Art of the World of Tomorrow featurette, deleted scenes, gag reel, and the original six minute short

STUDIO: PARAMOUNT

RELEASE DATE: 1-25-2005

ANALYSIS: Kerry Conran had a dream of doing a movie with actors against a blue screen where he would add in backgrounds and everything else on the computer. He thought he could do it on his own, but he decided to show it to producer Jon Avnet on a whim after finishing six minutes. Jon Avnet was impressed and the road to a full length motion picture begun in 1998. SKY CAPTAIN AND TEH WORLD OF TOMORROW hit the big screen in September 2004 and now Kerry's vision has made it's way to DVD.

"Alert the Amphibious Squadron."

Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an annoying liar with egomania. Most of Joe's problems are Polly's fault. Polly deserves all the bad luck she received during this movie. Angelina Jolie is great in the small part of Captain Frankie Cook. I wish she was in more of the movie. Jude Law is OK as Joe aka Sky Captain, but the big star of the movie are the visuals. SKY CAPTAIN has Joe and Polly teaming up to find some missing scientists taken by Totenkopf (played by a famous dead actor). Totenkopf is up to no good with his army of robots and his right hand woman (Bai Ling).

SKY CAPTAIN is a homage to the cliffhanger serials of 1930s and 1940s. It is a fun sci-fi fantasy movie that is also an incredible technical achievement.

MOVIE REVIEW:  http://enterline2.tripod.com/skycaptain.html

VIDEO/AUDIO: SKY CAPTAIN is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The colors are rendered like how they were intended to look. Blacks are good and image sharpness is good, but the picture is soft at times. No grain is visible in this transfer.

You can hear the movie in English 5.1 Dolby Digital or French 2.0 Dolby Surround with the option of English, French, or Spanish subtitles. The dialogue can be heard clearly. Music is loud while some of the sound effects do stand out. The sound mix isn't bad at all. As for the special features, most of them have a subtitle option except for the Gag Reel, previews, and the commentary tracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The extras are great. A nice assortment that plunge deeper into the movie.

BRAVE NEW WORLD is a two part documentary on the making of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. Part One covers the genesis of SKY CAPTAIN from the six minute short that Kerry Conran shot in his apartment and created on his computer to the movie being green lighted to shooting against a blue screen on a soundstage in London. Part Two goes into the work that was done to create the movie on computers when all of the live action plates were shot against a blue screen and the problems they had with cooling the computers. They had problems like switching from 2D to 3D animation to create the CGI environments of the movie. They eventually had to outsource to other companies to get the movie completed in time for release.

THE ART OF THE WORLD OF TOMORROW has Kevin Conran (costume designer and production designer) talking about the design work for the movie while the actual production and costume designs are shown. He even talks about a robot design that wasn't used for the final movie.

Two deleted scenes are include on the DVD (five minutes in total). The first scene is finished and it adds a little bit to the movie while I can see why it was cut. The second scene is unfinished and features animatics and people against blue screen. It is an alternate version of what happens near the climax of the movie. The 2 1/2 minute Gag Reel features line flubs, laughter, and the animators having some fun during the animatic stage of the movie.

Finally, the original six minute short that sold Jon Avnet on making this into a feature film is included. It is an impressive short that is in black and white. It shows Kerry Conran even had a vision back in the 1990s when he was creating the CGI on an old Mac.

However, too bad Paramount didn't include the original theatrical trailer for the movie or the animatic version of the movie (that Kerry wanted to include on the DVD) which means you will probably see a 2 disc Special Edition eventually.

COMMENTARIES: The first audio commentary for the movie is with producer Jon Avnet. Jon Avnet goes through the development of the movie from the start of Pre-Production in 1998 to the finished product in 2004. It is actually interesting hearing this from a producer's POV instead of just the VFX and director's POV on the second commentary. He talks about the casting, financing the movie as he worried about how much the movie was going to cost, and other tidbits. He made suggestions after the movie was shot (in Van Nuys, California) to determine the shots for the actual principal photography in London. Jon Avent brought a lot to this movie that actually helped the project. He learns about sensitive the computers are to heat including to bringing in air conditioning to keep the temperature down to make sure the computers would keep running. The first commentary is the better of the two commentary tracks.

The second audio commentary is with writer and director Kerry Conran, production designer Kevin Conran, visual effects supervisor Darin Hollings, and animation director/digital effects supervisor Steve Yamamoto. They go into what elements formed each scene including what scenes survived from the original short and were improved on. They talk about the different aspects of the production, the actors (two fo the actors could speak Tibetan and one was actually a Tibetan priest), and what had to be cut due to the budget and what scenes were changed (as some scenes became grander). The commentary is quiet at times while it seems they are watching the movie instead of talking. Kerry does complain some scenes seem to have been cut too short.

MENUS: The menus do have animation, sound effects, and music to them. They are in widescreen and are gorgeous.

DVD ART: The DVD cover sleeve and disc art is also very beautiful. They don't suck.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The DVD for SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is one of the better DVDs of 2005 so far. The extras give insight into the production of the movie. This gem is fascinating from a technical standpoint. The script could have been a little better, but SKY CAPTAIN will rent well and it will probably sell very well.

this DVD review is (c)1-19-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia