There were many bad reviews of this movie when it came out, but I was still attracted to its styling, the cast, and the feeling of being an old serial movie full of gung-ho much like the Flash Gordon series. So it remained on my list for a long time and just recently arrived.
I can’t say I was disappointed for all that I expected of it, although I was disappointed by the lacklustre DVD offering, but it let itself down in just rushing too much through the story.
The effects and style were great through this movie, using Second World War feel to it and yet cramming in gadgets throughout which were far from out of place, they just seemed to fit perfectly. Once you accepted the period, then the arrival of the robots, everything else was acceptable and you were along for the ride.
The style of the filming was very cool too, although the effect was soon lost as you were pulled into the film. On one level that’s great because you’re concentrating on the movie, but on the other hand you wonder if the money and effort spent on that washed out effect could have been spent elsewhere on the movie.
Not that the effects needed it. There wasn’t anything that looked poor in this movie, and that was partly down to the style itself which I’m sure managed to hide a few things, but also down to the entire comic serial feel to it, where almost anything would be acceptable. I mean giant robots, planes that doubled as submarines, and flying aircraft carriers? Preposterous, but they fit right in and the effects never intrude into your viewing experience. Some of these ideas were really good, and visualised very well.
The story did seem rushed, and initially very confusing. Whether this is down to poor editing or not I’m unsure, but it did have that feel of a harshly cut film. It did get better as the story moved on though, and during the travels to Asia the movie had settled into a good pace.
There were definitely shades of Indy in this movie, but in a completely different setting and light. It was fun and over the top, and quite entertaining. Yet Gwyneth Paltrow seemed to be very out of place and awkward and just didn’t fit well in her part. Angelina Jolie was a different matter, her short cameo was superb fun and she looked like she was enjoying it just as much. Jude Law was good, but nothing special. It took a little getting used to him in this kind of role and initially he didn’t sit well for me, but the story took over and he grew into it.
At the end there were less thrills and surprises than the journey there, in fact I seemed to have guessed them all before they actually arrived. So the enjoyment did trail towards the end.
A big mention has to go out to the use of archive footage and effects to get the superb Sir Laurence Olivier onscreen as the baddie. That was superbly done, a great surprise, and perfect casting.
Presented: Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic
The style of the visuals was really good and something new and unique, but it made it hard to see if the picture was sharp. There was a good balance of black in the movie though, with darkness really looking dark and not some lightened grey.
Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1
I was surprised to be only presented with a DD5.1 track, I would have expected a DTS for an audio and effects rich film such as this, however there was none. Yet it did manage to give me some excellent sound, well dispersed around the room and myself, and some strong effects when needed.
A very poor offering and pulling the pathetic marketing trick of releasing one version with next to nothing and waiting until sales die down enough to release a fuller version. The Collectors edition, as they call it, offers two audio commentaries, a gag reel, deleted scenes, featurettes, etc. That’s not Collectors, that should be the standard. This practice hits low marks for me.
Onto the movie side of the offering and we’re looking at a fun romp, a slightly confused and rushed storyline initially with a rather weak performance from the female lead, but still fun. With great ideas and effects you’re sure to see something quite different from the usual action\adventure romps you’ve seen. Yet not enough to make up for the pathetic marketing ploy of the DVD offering and the negative aspects of the film.