08 April 2009

Sky Captain and the High Def Quest

I recently got a really nice Toshiba 40" HD tv at the nice price of $800 at Best Buy. While I was a little leary of purchasing from the Blue Screen Box of Doom, I decided that the option of having the new equipment on credit for the next year and a half was a better plan than gtting something from internet super retailers TigerDirect or New Egg.

To date, I can't find anything about the tv that I've disliked, but I might have a bit of a halo effect from my costly, dope periferal of choice: the PS3 I've had since last June. While I thought playing PS3 was dope before the hd, I now have very little reason to leave the house, except to go to work and appease the girlfriend.

The reason I chose the PS3 over the X-Box 360, however, was my faith that the Blu-Ray player wasn't going to be headed the way of the BetaMax. I'm now gettin to reap the full benefits of the game system that has hindered (but also helped, via Rock Band) my social life.

With our new tv, we picked up a disc I've been pining over for a while, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I' a huge fan of the movie, since I think its the most elegant attempt at a Rom Com for Men I've ever seen, and it also gives me faith that there is a real actor inside Seth Rogan despite his Stoner comedy attempts to prove otherwise (He was genius in 40 Year Old Virgin and SuperBad, though). That all being said, Kevin Smith can write/direct well enough that even a hack can be cast opposite an indy starlette playing a lesbian and end up with a career in Hollywood. It also ended up being the first Blu-ray I popped in to give me the Holy Shit look after seeing how stunning it looked. For a movie with neither flashy effects nor stunning visually stimulating cinematography, I'm thoroughly impressed with the quality of the movie and the pop of the details.

This made me start to investigate some movies available on Blu-ray that had massive Hollywood hype regarding visual effects. Since I anticipate Star Wars to be on Blu Ray just shy of the next century (after being tweeked by Cyborg George Lucas to its definitive piece d'resistance for that moment), I chose a film I'd botrh never saw and heard good things about: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

As I compulsively check wikipedia about things like film production, budget, casting decisions, and critical response (even though I often don't give two shits about the final topic), I learned that Sky Captain was one of the first movies to be shot on a digital backlot; seeing the Blu-Ray of the movie makes this hugely obvious, since all of the backgrounds where flat and obviously dead relative to the actors in the movie.  In this movie, it both helps and hinders the film: the inanimate backgrounds gives the movie a great feel of homage to film noir and Golden Age comic books, but it simultaniously betrays the movie as a "fake" compared to the original due to the use of such overt special effects.... Kinda like how cool everything in the Matrix franchise felt until you saw something cooler pulled off with real life stunts.  Having recently watched Australia, a boring-as-hell but beautiful movie, Sky Captain constantly reminded me that the awesome Retro-Futurist setting was fake because you could see all the seems that stitched it together.  Theatrically, the gold fleck was rubbing off of the prop laser pistol every time there was a scene change.

I completely enjoyed seeing robots fight WWI dogfighters and the Great Arc re-imagined as a Rocket Ship.  The movie, however, simply felt like an overblown scene from a greater film noir short story, leaving a bad "What, that's it!?" taste in my mouth after all the work had been done to engineer this fantastic alternate history.  The most beautiful part of the Blu-Ray, however, was admiring the hard work that went into coloring the movie, much like you might look at a well inked comic book.  The stark constrats between the gray of New York City and the richness of Shangri-La make this a definate Blu-Ray viewer for cinemagraphic purposes.

That being said (and not to switch genres), I think playing a bit of BioShock or Fallout 3 would fire my imagination nurons a bit excitedly if I wanted a bit more retro-futurism in my life. At least those have opportunity for a sequal... I'm certain Jude Law couldn't carry an audience through another one of the Sky Captain movies. I guess that's what happens when you hire a man with as much machismo as a tampon in the lead role.

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