Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow

One of the year's best films gets a package to suit.

The DVD presentation of Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow is a choice between a single disc and a two-disc set. I shall be reviewing the two-disc set.

Copy picture

Effortlessly stylised and very pleasing would be my immediate response, simultaneously sharp as a tack and softly photographed. It's like nothing you've ever seen before in a movie. A rich mad-scientist's lab of retro tones and styles, with modern sensibilities. Light blooms, pastel colours used in highlight, from near black-and-white all the way to broad saturated near Technicolor for the film's climax. Compression artefacts, artificial sharpening, aliasing and other anomalies are not present. Astonishing mastering work.

The audio is near reference, a gorgeously prepared Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track (No DTS, I hear the naysayers whine) with outstanding fidelity, soundstage pans and discrete effects galore. The sound mixing and editing is not touched upon in the supplementary section, but like most animated films, the dialogue track is about all the mixers have from the set. Everything else has to be artificially created and mixed and it's as good as any great mix I've heard all year. Edward Shearmur's grand score is well recorded and integrated and Totenkoph's island, to take a good example, is full of life. The dog fighting has gunfire whizzing through the air and deep bass makes itself known early. There's nothing quite like giant robots pounding your subwoofer.

There are two commentaries to choose from. One is nothing short of an audio Making Of by producer Jon Avnet. He's a confident, interesting speaker, talking about all aspects of production, from research, to seeing Kerry Conran's six-minute short, through coaxing him into directing actors - describing his reluctance as "watching molasses go uphill in winter" - and only occasionally stopping to make note of what is onscreen at the time. It may be a non-screen-specific commentary, but there's a film school wealth of information here. Go enjoy.

The alternative commentary is by Conran and his leading digital artists. There are a few solid nuggets of information on offer, but most of the track is silence and repetition. I'm sure that if he was sufficiently prepared to speak about his work, this budding writer/director would be highly entertaining and cheerfully obsessive about things he likes in the film.

The Brave New World Making Of documentary is spread over two video segments. It's roughly chronological, detailing the film's production from concepts to finished work. The six-minute short, pre-production, animatics, casting and suchlike are covered with brevity and Behind The Scenes footage, which is most enjoyable. We see early glimpses of Conran knitting together the short film on his Apple II and pulling together the cast on the George Lucas stage at Elstree. The art department have wallpapered Kevin Conran's (Kerry's brother) sketches everywhere. It's one of those breathlessly well made documentaries that leave you wanting more from these fascinating and self-deprecating people. I kept wishing that they'd be just a little bit more proud of their sterling first work.

The Art Of The World Of Tomorrow is a short eight-minute featurette, detailing the art department, costume designs and how the look was influenced - another terse and well made piece.

There are two deleted scenes, which in reality are scene extensions. The first is Totenkoph's Torture Room, where we learn what happened to the enslaved Tibetan people after being infected by radioactivity. This scene is completely rendered. The other, The Conveyor Belt, is a large scene extension, which is largely composed of animatics. Neither belongs in the film.

The now-famous six-minute short is also here and it's easy to see early shots, which have been transposed from this to the finished film. It's also been augmented by Shermur's score. I was somewhat flabbergasted at the work, the eye for a great shot and the dedication needed to see through this four-years-in-the-making short.

The entertaining Gag Reel is also present and correct, and you'll get a chuckle from it.

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2005
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Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow packshot
Giant robots on the wing in fantastic story of mad scientist, intrepid reporter and fighter pilot.
Amazon link

Product Code: PHE8751

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Commentary with producer Jon Avnet; commentary with writer/director Kerry Conran plus digital artists; Brave New World mini-doc; Behind The Scenes featurette; The Art Of The World Of Tomorrow featurette; short film by Kerry Conran; Gag Reel; deleted scenes

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