Thursday, 29 October 2009

Sky Blue (aka Wonderful Days) (2003)

This South Korean animated movie took a total of seven years to make, including the development of various pieces of software that were needed to pull off its startling visuals. All of that hard work is very much in evidence onscreen, even when the plot vanishes altogether in a haze. It really is a stunning thing to look at, but the viewer's involvement in the story is limited at best.

The year is 2140, and an organic city called Ecoban has been built after a massive environmental disaster has screwed everything up for humanity. A (you guessed it) rebel freedom fighter is loose in the city, trying to discover its secrets in order to free the slaves that work outside the city, feeding it power. Meh. The plot isn't all that gripping, but the film is a masterpiece of construction.

Using a beautifully handled mixture of cel animation (the characters) and CG (pretty much everything else), Sky Blue is a marvel of a film to look at. Dystopian cityscapes, thrilling vehicle chases on land and in the air, futuristic computer interfaces, flawless textures and weather effects and more are there for the eyes to feast on. It truly is astonishing, and even the raindrops are perfect. The CG elements are literally at the photoreal level in some scenes, and where some films like this tend to feel like the 2D characters have just been slapped on as an afterthought, here they are blended very well with the lush CG world they inhabit.

As a piece of beautifully made cyberpunk entertainment, Sky Blue is flawless. As a film, it lacks a real sense of depth to the story and the chharacters, but this is to be expected to a certain extent thanks to the translation from its original language. Still, the English voice actors do an admirable job with the translated material. The score is cinematic in scope and wonderfully varied, which helps to add some size to the piece (some parts remind me of John Williams and Howard Shore's efforts).

It is mosst certainly worth watching, for the visuals alone. Watch it on the biggest, clearest screen you can possibly find, and immerse yourself in one of the most stunningly realized science fiction worlds that has ever been shown. In fact, it may actually be those visuals that take you out of the story a little. You are so busy thinking "Wow, that looked awesome", that you sometimes forget what is actuallly going.

That said, some of the characters are kind of engaging, but nowhere near as much as how the film looks. It is worth your time to see this film. Your eyes will thank you for it.

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