Sky Blue film review

Sky Blue is an ambitious mix of 2-D and 3-D animation, miniatures and live action. It is a notable anime achievement. With elements of ecological devastation, class warfare and romance, the story is much more typical than the visuals. But the striking rendering of an apocalyptic future are a definite selling point for anime fans.

Although it falters somewhat, as far as the storyline, its densely layered images, and its haunting sound create a dual cautionary vision: a bleak landscape and a high-tech metropolis, all sporting metallic blues and violets. The relative flatness of the conventional anime characters is a stark contrast to the extremely detailed backgrounds and sets.

Sunmin Park, whose producing credits include The Others, directed this re-edited English-language version of Moon Sang Kim’s Wonderful Days. The film is the result of a massive 7 year undertaking by hundreds of artists and technicians, working with Sony’s 24p HDW-F900 digital camera and Panavision’s Frazier Lens. This is the same equipment George Lucas used in Star Wars: Episode II. The film shows clearly the Korean animation industry is ready for much larger scale productions and collaborations.

The story unfolds in 2142, when toxic rain has been bathing the planet for the century since global warming made it all but uninhabitable. The tech-savvy elite thrive in Earth’s sole city, Ecoban, an oasis that runs on carbon-based energy. Refugees in the unprotected wasteland survive as Diggers, the labor force that mines carbonite, Ecoban’s lifeblood.

Jay (voice of Catherine Cavadini), a member of Alpha Patrol, which guards Ecoban from interlopers, begins to question the city’s leaders, including her lover, Cade (Kirk Thornton), after witnessing the murder of hundreds of Diggers in an accident. Her loyalties face a more urgent test when she reconnects with exiled childhood sweetheart Shua (Marc Worden), leader of an increasingly agitated resistance.

Sky Blue refers to the cherished moment when, as kids, Shua and Jay glimpsed the sky through a break in the cloud cover that casts the world in grimy darkness. Despite the often stilted dialogue, the visuals alone pack a powerful punch, with a richly detailed alien world. The animation is simply superb, with ravaged countryside blending effortlessly with the complex construction of the Ecoban city. Something to behold on the big screen.

Review © 2005 by Rene Carson

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