Friday, September 08, 2006

Somewhere in time

While eating lunch and watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow I noticed The Wizard of Oz was playing at Radio City Music Hall when Polly met Dr. Jennings. When she left the theater and walked down the street she passed another theater playing King's Row. Part of my mind was focused on watching the movie and the rest of it was trying to place the time period. One of the scientists, Dr. Vargas, disappeared after giving a package and a message to a purser to be delivered immediately. Dr. Vargas disappeared from the Hindenburg. What do all these things have to do with the movie and the time line? Everything.

The movie even contains references to Lost Horizon by James Hilton, which was released as a film in 1937.

The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939, King's Row was released in 1942 and the Hindenburg crashed in 1937. Granted Sky Captain is fantasy and these mistakes could be attributed to an alternate time line, which would have to be the case since there were no giant flying robots at any time between 1937 and 1942, but in setting the movie in a specific time the least the director and special effects wizards could have done was pick a specific time line. It would have made the story more realistic.

All that aside, I happen to like the movie with its nostalgic look and acting styles. I do question the effectiveness of an aviator with a major depth perception problem, notably Commander Cook with her eye patch. It's a great look for Angelina Jolie, but would hinder a pilot who needs both eyes to be completely effective when it comes to dive bombing an enemy and dog fighting.

In other ways the movie is reminiscent of the great science fiction thrillers of the 1950s, like The Incredible Shrinking Man, Them!, Tarantula and Forbidden Planet. What those early movies lacked in sophisticated special effects, Sky Captain delivers. There is a sense of reality to the movie and the performances that maintains the sensibility and scope of those early science fiction movies.

On a side note, the death toll from the Hindenburg's explosion was less than the crash and explosion of the U.S.S. Akron, the U.S. Navy's rigid airship. Most of the passengers and crew who survived the Hindenburg's explosion actually rode the flaming ship to the ground.

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