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If this were a better film, it could do for the sales of hand sanitizer what Sideways did for Pinot Noir.
This is not a bad film. It’s well-produced, well-acted by a first-rate cast, and diligently convincing in its scientific details. Unfortunately, it maintains an emotional distance between the audience and its characters, and this serves to keep the film from being truly engrossing.
In the end, Guy Ritchies’ take on the Holmes mythos is a handsomely executed, entertaining action movie with a Victorian setting, but every time “Holmes” stepped on screen, I kept expecting him to strap on an iron suit and start fighting terrorists.
In some ways this movie is the cinematic equivalent of artificial insemination using a dead man’s swimmers. A.I. had been on Stanley Kubrick’s back, front, and middle burners at various times since the early seventies. For a while, it looked like it wouldn’t see the light of day until development hell froze over and, when Kubrick kicked it after completing Eyes Wide Shut, it seemed inevitable that A.I. would forever remain as Kubrick’s great “lost” project.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was billed as an experiment in digital film making, shooting actors against a blue screen to be composited into computer generated images. I’m not sure if there’s anything here that George Lucas wasn’t already doing on a much larger scale for the Star Wars prequels, so as an experiment in technique, Sky Captain is probably much ado about nothing.
Making a film about Howard Hughes is quite a challenge, given that the man was largely an enigma even to those who knew him best. How do you tell the story about who struggled to hide his numerous demons and lived the last few decades of his life in virtual seclusion from the world? Director Martin Scorcese wisely chose to concentrate on the part of his life that was lived in the public eye but that is also part of the weakness of The Aviator. The facts presented here are well known to those familiar with the life of Howard Hughes and don’t really offer an incisive look at the private man.