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homage

It is with great, great delight that I can honestly say that Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is one of the most spectacular films of the year (or in recent memory, for that matter). A dizzyingly diverse mixture of influences are brought into play: Flash Gordon, the Fleischer Brothers' Superman cartoons, MGM's The Wizard of Oz, King Kong, The Lost World (1925), Metropolis, Terry and the Pirates, various 1940-'50s serials including Commander Cody and King of the Rocketman, and numerous film noir classics -- and still, I suspect that's just a beginning. This is a beautiful, amazing film which manages to do what George Lucas did so long ago with Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but has failed to do more recently. It takes the past and makes something new and brilliant and breathtaking from it. Some might mistake this for camp, but Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is emphatically not camp. Which, I fear, will make it even more unfathomable to many of today's moviegoers. I think Gene Shalit has best summed it up: "If you don't like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, you just don't like movies."

Kerry Conran's direction is spot on, and his script is, by turns, tight, suspenseful, humorous, bold, and minimalist. The casting could hardly have been better. Jude Law has just the right kind of good looks to pull off the role, Gwyneth Paltrow is the plucky reincarnation of a hundred lost movie goddesses, Angelina Jolie's "Frankie" Cook is a perfect mix of sexuality and no-nonsense airwoman, and Bai Ling's presence dominates much of the film, though she never utters a single line. Are the SFX good? They are beyond all expectation. They are such a seamless fusion of Fritz Lang's Bauhaus/Deco sensibilities with a CGI/post-Matrix paradigm one finds it hard to believe the marriage wasn't there all along. I know a lot of film critics are giving this one the boot, but trust me, they're wrong. See this movie. Please see this movie. But don't see it with a chip on your shoulder. You know what I mean. That, "Okay. Here I am. Entertain me." bullshit. Allow this movie to show itself to you on its own exquisite terms. It's a film that more jaded, cynical filmgoers will never get, because many of them have forgotten that it's okay to have fun at the theatre and spend 107 minutes smiling until your face aches. Without reservation, I adore this film. Oh, and Crimson Skies geeks, you might love it the most.

It's been a hit and (mostly) miss summer for movies. There has been brilliance, such as The Village and Spider Man II, and there's been unspeakable abomination, such as White Chicks and Open Water. Okay, mostly there's been unspeakable abomination. Maybe I'll do a best and worst list tomorrow.

Today, Leh'agvoi, by Va'ganor's burning eye, I swear that I'll get your latest Nar'eth manga up.

Yesterday, we got the print off to Mesa. I spoke (via e-mail; I rarely use the frelling phone) with Voltaire, Ramsey Campbell, and my editor at Penguin. I tried to think of something to contribute to the Fiddler's Green charity auction (proceeds go to the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund; suggestions welcomed). Mostly, I thought about how badly I need to complete "Bradbury Weather" and begin Daughter of Hounds. Oh, and the new Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology arrived, and that's always a good thing. Sadly, the chaos continues unabated.

I wanted to pass along the following excellent observations on Murder of Angels from my online discussion phorum, courtesy Matt Spencer:

I think the most surprising realization for me was that this story is, of all things, a fable of sorts. And not of the "and the moral of the story is ..." variety, but rather a demonstration of the need to recognize moral gray areas, of the dangers of too narrow a perspective, of tangling good intentions with skewed personal motivations. In a lot of ways, the more I think about Spyder, you successfully conveyed with her what I believe George Lucas was attempting with Anakin Skywalker; too much power, a genuine desire to do the right thing with that power, a genuine desire to love, be loved, to make everything right, yet also that tragic skewing of notions of the greater good with personal hang-ups, a lack of perspective of what it is or isn't one person's place to decide for everyone else, and so forth.

Which brings me to another point ... the Joseph Campbell myth approach is more pronounced here than in any of your previous novels. In
Silk, there were parts that I sensed it, though it never quite materialized. Not that it needed to do so overtly, but now that I've read MoA, it seems clear; Silk is, and always was, only the first half of the story.

I never, ever thought that I'd see MoA compared to Star Wars, but, looking at this, I think the boy may have a point.

Comments

( 8 comments — Have your say! )
happyspector
Sep. 18th, 2004 08:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Cait! :-)

*spoiler*

"I never, ever thought that I'd see MoA compared to Star Wars"

Not even when Niki gets her hand cut off? (yes, that just now occurred to me LOL)
greygirlbeast
Sep. 18th, 2004 08:25 pm (UTC)
Not even when Niki gets her hand cut off? (yes, that just now occurred to me LOL)

Frell.

Yes. Now that you mention it.

The unconscious and subconscious are amazing things.
floridacayman
Sep. 19th, 2004 02:22 am (UTC)
The Village received was greeted with such negativity by the critics and audiences. I thought it was a wonderful film. I wonder if it'll ever get the appreciation I think it deserves. I think people were so focused on "the twist" that they didn't bother to pay attention to the movie itself.

Michael
greygirlbeast
Sep. 19th, 2004 04:11 am (UTC)
I think people were so focused on "the twist" that they didn't bother to pay attention to the movie itself.

I think Shyamalan has painted himself into a corner. The audience keeps expecting a twist, because he keeps making "twist films." It's not that each film isn't very good, in and of itself, but after four "twists" you get audiences who are more concerned with second-guessing the film than simply watching it.
happyspector
Sep. 19th, 2004 03:15 am (UTC)
Most critics seemed not to like it ... Most people I know personally liked it ... I've read a fairly even distribution of positive and negative from on-line people and such, though it does tend to inspire strong reactions either way.

I suspect in time it'll be remembered fairly well.
greygirlbeast
Sep. 19th, 2004 04:13 am (UTC)
I suspect in time it'll be remembered fairly well.

This is my hope, for both The Village and for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
happyspector
Sep. 19th, 2004 03:19 am (UTC)
*irk* *meant to respond to floridacayman's coment!*
That was regarding "The Village," NOT MoA which so far, EVERYONE seems to love (for the record, I actually don't think the "Kate & Leopold" fan has actually read the book ... read the review right beneath 'em, and I think you'll see what I mean).
greygirlbeast
Sep. 19th, 2004 04:17 am (UTC)
Re: *irk* *meant to respond to floridacayman's coment!*
*irk* *meant to respond to floridacayman's coment!*

Don't worry. But quoting helps avoid confusion.

for the record, I actually don't think the "Kate & Leopold" fan has actually read the book ... read the review right beneath 'em, and I think you'll see what I mean

It's always a possibility. I'd not compared the two directly, but now that you mention it...
( 8 comments — Have your say! )