Mrs. Geek and I rented three DVDs over the weekend: The Notebook, The Terminal and Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow. The first two were pretty good. The third one was visually stunning but otherwise awful. So awful in fact, that I feel obliged to go into detail.
Where to begin? The movie stars Jude Law, Gwynneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie, all young actors who delivered worthy performances in the past. The chemistry between the characters they play is awful. At least two thirds of the dialogue between Mr. Law and Ms. Paltrow can be boiled down to repetitions of one of the two following exchanges:
Law: Did you sabotage my plane in Nanking?
Paltrow: Were you cheating on me in Nanking?
Paltrow:I have two shots left [in her camera].
Law: Is that all you think about?
As anyone can plainly see, Mr. Law's and Ms. Paltrow's characters were formerly engaged to be married... and obviously care a great deal for each other. That their past gets in the way is understandable because he might have stepped out on her for a while, and she might have sabotaged his plane in such a way that he was captured and held in a Manchurian slave camp for six months. You know, just little impediements to a stable, loving relationship like that.
The locations for the action are a virtual tour de force of submerged occult references that are not used at all. Of course, the birthplace of the Sinister Plan in the film is pre-Great War Germany, land of various Illuminated Lodges and Thule Societies that spawned Hitler and his ilk. The major point of action for that Plan immediately prior to time of the film is the Himalayas, where we get to stop at the mythic land of Shangri La (Cymbala). Finally, the Plan comes to fruition on a small ocean island with a sunken city right next to it -- obviously Mu or Atlantis. Add in a dash of Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" and visually dark Art Deco New York and you've pretty much got the backdrops for all the action. Of course, all this stuff just sort of sits in the background... and is rarely mentioned, much less explained.
About the only thing that saves the film is its visual look. An interesting mixture of kitschy comic book computer graphics and live action, it is an impressive film to look at. I wish someone would do a version of Batman or Buck Rodgers in this world. With some decent plot and character development, this sort of visual design could be part of a real tour de force.
As it is, however, the film misses where the Indiana Jones movies hit: nostalgia and visual appeal are wonderful, but those are just interesting bits without characters to hold them together. This film really has none.
on 2005-04-12 at 10:49 a.m.
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