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How Kerry Conran saw Hollywood's future - then got left behind
Continued at Telegraph.
FEB. 24, 2004
Artist and writer Dave Steven's THE ROCKETEER had all the goods: a sporadically published yet wildly popular comic book that re-launched interest 50's pinup queen, Betty Page. But when it came time to make it into a movie, the lunkheads at Disney chose the insipid tag team of writers Danny Bilson and Paul Mateo (TRANCERS, ZONE TROOPERS, ELIMINATORS, ugh, etc.), giving director Joe Johnston, nothing worthwhile to work with.
The screenplay first stripped out everything fun and amazing about the comic book, then gutted the charm as well, leaving nothing but a Hollywood Trivia pursuit as numerous scenes became a wasted game of "Guess what famous dead actor this character is supposed to be?"*
It's not fair to push a past failure from one movie company onto the unknown efforts of another film studio. Especially when SKY CAPTAIN has such a cool cast: Gwyneth Paltrow (SE7EN, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY), Angelina Jolie (THE BONE COLLECTOR, TOMB RAIDER), Jude Law (eXistenZ, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY), Lin Bai (THE CROW, THE BREED), and Giovanni Ribisi (THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, THE GIFT). Plus first time writer/Director Kerry Conran has a pretty interesting bio at imdb.com.
But judging from the trailer on the website, the film also has the grave error of having every single frame in soft "Vaseline" focus (warning: No Vaseline may have been used in the making of this film). Everything is too soft, but that doesn't cover up the cartoon-y look of some CGI effects looking too CGI: and this is just the impression I got from watching the preview on a Quick Time screen about the size of a business card. You gotta wonder what it will look like on the big screen.
I say all of this because I'm exactly the kind of person such a movie would be directed towards. Monster robots! Alternate History! Retro Future stuff! Thriller! This movie has the potential to kick ass in the kind of fun way that the original Stars Wars did way back in the 1970s. That movie had such momentum behind it that its still moving forward nearly 30 years later even after two dismal prequels.
Director Kerry Conran is going for Fleischer animation appeal set in a gothic Fritz Lang world of Manhattan cityscape: complete with chiaroscuro light and shadows. Yet the "blur" that runs throughout, and the muted colors present even in the blue sky daylight scenes, is enough to give me pause about this film.
I hope I'm wrong.
The problems I'm seeing - fake looking robots stomping through fake looking cities - just might kill this. Godzilla movies could get away with their "model" looking cities only because they were made so long ago. A select (read small) number of people are willing to pay the overpriced theater ticket to see a toy city stomped to bits on the big screen. Yet even today, you could make 10 Godzilla movies for what a single Hollywood big budget film commands. Godzilla movies never had actors who expected $10 million a picture, let alone 3 of them. And for all of their fans and lip service, most Godzilla movies have gone direct to video in the U.S.
Now Paramount may be showing the CGI "rushes", so the unrealistic nature of the buildings and other effects might be cleaned up (use longer render times) in the digital houses. But if that's not the case, I hope that in saying this, someone will notice and take a second thought or two. Because for all of it's potential, visually this movie is looking like FINAL FANTASY with live action actors.
* To be fair, the critics loved THE ROCKETEER. Gene Shalit, Siskel & Ebert, and Peter Travers all gave it rave reviews. Critics loved it, fans of the comic book and movie audiences hated it - or just weren't impressed enough to bother with it. What little Rocketeer fan sites there are today pay homage to the creator and the comic, not the movie.
September 13, 2004
Interview: Kerry Conran, Jon Avnet for "Sky Captain"
Continued at Dark Horizons.
Copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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