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Wednesday, March 17, 2004
 
Ornithopters Over Manhattan!

And zeppelins over Long Island!


And giant, flying Mechano-Men pulverizing Packards on Broadway!


And ... uhhh ... Angelina Jolie as the crusty, one-eyed Naval
Captain.




What ... you thought I was kidding about the Jolie thing?


Not a single autogyro
or flying
jeep
to be seen, though. Oh, well ...


That's right. I've been sitting around watching the trailer for
Sky Captain and the World
of Tomorrow
,” the lushly rendered, retro-deco futuristic
movie due for release this June. In case you haven't seen it yet,
it's right
here
— in Quicktime format.


If you're like me, you'll notice that the visuals are very
reminiscent of those old Fleischer Studios “Superman
shorts. In fact, one
of those shorts
even featured a flying mechano-man.


But since,
stylistically speaking, Fleischer's “Superman” movies are
widely lauded as a triumph, I don't foresee this as a problem. The acting
does seem a bit wooden, though.


I'm sure I'll enjoy the movie, regardless of how well-written or
acted it is. Frankly, I'm a sucker for retro-futurism any way it's
dished up.


I even sat through a rerun of “The
Rocketeer
” on cable just a couple of weeks ago — and
not for the quality of the acting, believe me. I also used to have a
reprint collection of vintage “Airboy
comics, although I haven't been able to find it for quite some time.


Regardless of how well it does at the box office, the movie will
forever be footnoted for the dramatic technological leap it
represents in the world of filmmaking. For although all the actors
are real people, none of the scenery surrounding them ever really
existed.


That's right, almost
the entire movie
was blue-screened; the only parts that weren't
were the computer-rendered
action sequences
.


If it succeeds on a technical level (and
there's every reason to believe that it will
), studios will no
doubt regard this development as excellent news. At a rumored
$70,000,000
to produce, “Sky Captain” is already coming on far less
money than your average Hollywood blockbuster.


This can't be very good news for actors, though. In the short
term, it will mean acting is about to get a whole lot duller; emoting
in front of a blue screen that's supposed to be Southern
France ... or Southern France? Which do you think sounds more
appetizing?


In the long term, it means we're one step closer to the Holy Grail
of completely rendered movies — right down to the pixilated
actors themselves. There was already one unsuccessful
attempt
at this, but great
advances have been made
in the rendering
of human
actors
since then.


Frankly, it's inevitable. Welcome to the cubicle, divas!


Y'know, a movie is only a representation of a particular reality,
isn't it? Given that, are you prepared for what this movie represents
for you? Are you prepared
for a future
in which fantasy
is completely
indistinguishable
from reality?


One has to wonder: does the “World of Tomorrow” in the
title refer to events in the movie — or to the reality-warping
real-world technologies it represents?



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