Jan 29, 2005

Sky Captain

Oh yeah, I've got your future right here.

Watched Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow last night, and I think I just heard my wife go to somethingawful.com or somewhere else, because I know she was a little less enthused than I was, tho she bought it for me, so I know there's some glimmer of hope in there. *lol*

And yes, it was everything I had hoped it would be. When I was growing up and discovering the world(s) of science fiction literature, I stumbled onto the Golden Age, back when science fiction writers wrote about things like microwave transmitters and vehicles that went to the moon, and I was enthralled. I could not believe that someone could actually write about something that might come true one day and be at times very accurate. I've talked about things like that before, so I'm not going to beat a dead horse, but that's the joy of science fiction, to me.

The other joy of this Golden Age writing was that it had for the most part a very Utopian view of the future. I know I am painting in rather broad strokes here, but compared to today's crop of dystopian writers the Golden Age was downright sickeningly sweet, but it was sincere: they really meant it.

So that brings us to Sky Captain--I'm not familiar with the director, but his love of the Golden Age shows right thru from the beginning scene to the last frame. There is a film company called "Metropolis," the folks who presented Matthew Broderick in Godzilla, whose video moniker is a city skyline with two zepplins flying around, and a third about to dock. Sky Captain opened with a most beautiful rendition of that--the Hindenburg III, ghosting through a snow-filled sky over glorious Thirty's statuary and architecture, approaching the Empire State building's mooring clamps. What a vision of the future--a place where style and comfort is more important than speed.

And don't start on me about inaccuracies--I know they abounded, but I simply don't care. This is a loving flight of fancy, and as such deserves, like true love, a blind eye. I know full well that a Curtis P-40 Warhawk could not become a submarine, nor could it fly apparently non-stop to Tibet from New York. I know that two people crammed into it's cockpit would have killed each other long before they got across the first state line, and that the radiator-fins-and-ray-guns style of the Thirties could not last, but damned it was beautiful to see. Huge Art-Deco robots (Asimo is cool but has ZERO style points) and flying air bases, you name it, I know it's pure foolishness, but what a grand madness it is.

What really pleased me most was the homages to so many, in so many ways--Golden Age comic book references, images honoring the glory days of flight, visuals that evoked the horrifingly serious/strangely funny Nazi propaganda films of WWII, aircraft battles straight from W. E. John's "Biggles Of The RAF," Edgar Rice Burroughs' dinosaurs and steaming jungles, Godzilla, "The Wizard of Oz" references, Indiana Jones/Allan Quartermain, a line that I took to be a reference to "The Parralax View," and a stalwart hero who was every inch the lantern-jawed Strong American Male, an intrepid heroine who could pass for a starving Veronica Lake, and a fresh-faced sidekick as reeking with Gonna Be President One Day Potential as any Dick Grayson or Jimmy Olsen.

I miss my Hugo Gernsbach future. I miss not being able to buy a ticket on the Graf Zepplin to cross the country in a few days. I miss looking to the skies to see flights of giant robots soaring overhead. I miss when rocket ships were powered more by acres of chrome and huge fins than by liquid fuel. I miss having heroes whose reputations were sterling, and whose motivations were beyond reproach. I miss a future where Evil always lost, Good always triumphed at the last tick of the countdown clock, and the line between the two was as sharp as the razor that Our Hero shaved with.

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