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Sky Blue (A Movie Review)

SKY BLUE (2004)

Featuring the voices (English Version) of Catherine Cavadini, Marc Worden, Kirk Thornton, David Naughton, Karl Wiedergott, Rebecca Wink, Bob Papenbrook, Andrew Ableson, Sunmin Park, Marc Scarpa, Jamie Simone, Jeffrey Winter and Mark Lindsay.

Screenplay by Moon Sang Kim, Jun Young Park and Sunmin Park.

English Language Screenplay by Sunmin Park, Howard Rabinowitz and Jeffrey Winter.

Directed by Moon Sang Kim.

Distributed by Maxmedia/Masquerade Films. 86 minutes. Not Rated.

Okay, deep dark secret time here. I know almost nothing about Anime. Okay, I know, I know – I'll leave my movie geek credentials at the door. I've never seen Ghost in the Shell. I've never seen Kiki's Delivery Service. I've never even seen Pokémon. In fact, the closest thing I'd ever seen to Sky Blue is the old Heavy Metal movie, and that was over twenty years ago. Before that, you have to go all the way back to Speed Racer.

So, I'm a little naive when it comes to the rules and conventions of the art form. I'm not looking at this as an animation junkie, just an interested moviegoer. On that level, I was pretty impressed by what I saw. Sky Blue may not have been a spectacular film; however, it was a spectacular looking film that had the added benefit of being rather entertaining as well.

This movie (which was known as Wonderful Days in its original Korean incarnation) is a post-apocalyptic fantasy of the Earth in the 22nd Century. Due to increased environmental pollution (are you listening George W. Bush?) the world has become a wasteland. Only one city is still able to sustain life, a futuristic metropolis called Ecoban. Ecoban is very much a class society, the clean and well-bred upper class lives a life of quiet opulence. Their lifestyle is made possible by the hard work of the lower class, "the diggers," who live in squalor as they create energy from the pollution.

The story focuses on three people in this world. Jay is a beautiful (female) agent who has to deal with both sides and feels for all humans. Her boss is the more cold-hearted Cade, who will do anything in his power to keep the status quo. They are both surprised when the computer is breached by Shua, a former Ecoban resident they thought was dead, who is now leading the rebellion of the Diggers. The three of them were friends as children, but Cade betrayed Shua and let him fall to his death ten years earlier (or so he thought). Now Jay is torn as both men are in love with her but are trying to pull her in different directions as civil war breaks out.

Now like I said, I don't have much knowledge of anime, but I assume this isn't an astoundingly original storyline for the form. However, it is done in such a stylish, eye-popping manner that it you overlook some slightly conventional plot twists.

The world of Ecoban is incredibly impressive, as created by a mixture of CGI, cell animation, live action, and miniatures. Much of the background animation is worthy of framing, and even simple shots like falling rain hitting the ground are spectacularly beautiful.

If I have one small qualm with the animation, it is in the character design. While the backgrounds are exploding with movement and color, the actual people we are watching seem strangely static – often only their lips and eyes are moving during entire conversations. Even The Simpsons work harder than that.

Sky Blue has been making the festival circuit (it was screened at the 2004 Sundance Festival, San Francisco Film Festival and Leeds Film Festival) as well as making its way into some cities like Los Angeles and New York. If it makes it near you, it is worth tracking down for the opportunity to view it on the big screen. Sky Blue is visually stunning and well worth seeing for that reason alone. It's a nice surprise that it is not the only reason. (12/04)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2004 All rights reserved. Posted: December 28, 2004.

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