Howdy. Senior Writer Jason Heller here. Just wanted to let you know that Science Friction, The A.V. Club’s monthly sci-fi film series, continues tonight at 7:30 at Alamo Drafthouse Denver with Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow. Released in 2004 and written and directed by Kerry Conran, this pulp-inspired adventure stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Bai Ling, and Michael Gambon, and includes a posthumous appearance by Laurence Olivier. Conran shot the film using an entirely digital backlot, making it—along with 2005’s Sin City—a lightning rod for that controversial cinematic innovation.
Although it was somewhat less than a blockbuster upon its release in 2004, Sky Captain is ripe for rediscovery—and if you’ve never seen it on the big screen, you’re in for a visual feast packed with airships, giant robots, and Conran’s lovingly stylized retro-futuristic aesthetic. Sky Captain is a beautiful example of the dieselpunk genre, which anachronistically fuses the fashion, architecture, and popular culture of the 1930s and ’40s with advanced technology. There are homages and Easter eggs galore, from Fleischer Superman cartoons to ’50s Godzilla films, for the eagle-eyed viewer. All that aside, it’s a daring, roaring, action-adventure spectacle.
Like Fantastique (Science Friction’s sister series at Alamo Denver, which focuses exclusively on fantasy and is also sponsored by The A.V. Club), Science Friction is curated and hosted by yours truly, alongside my old pal Frank Romero, co-founder of Denver Comic Con. Frank and I will be there in person tonight to introduce and discuss Sky Captain, but that’s not all: Author Kronda Seibert, who’s also the founder of AnomalyCon, Denver’s premiere steampunk convention, will be our guest co-host. She’ll talk about the link between steampunk and dieselpunk as well as give away a pair of tickets for the next AnomalyCon, which will take place March 25-27, 2016. Here’s what Seibert has to say about the relationship between dieselpunk and steampunk:
Dieselpunk is steampunk’s door to zeppelins, airships, ray guns and goggles. Our love of alternate-history technology also comes from a conglomerate understanding of the revolutionary era that really blurs the lines between specific advancements of technology. Unlike the ancient eras where we can say, “Bam, the wheel was invented, and then boom, chariots happened,” the pre-modern steampunk/industrial revolution was a whole lot of stuff happening simultaneously, so that we can’t really say, “That element is too modern for steam” without giving up all the features we hold dear. That’s really why we call it steam-“punk,” so that we can utilize the best inventions of other times and shake things up a bit. AnomalyCon is about merging a lot of different -punk elements with alternate history for a higher level of creative literacy.
Tickets for Sky Captain And The World of Tomorrow are on sale now.
Science Friction schedule
June 17: 12 Monkeys
July 15: They Live
June 4: Time Bandits (in 35mm)
July 2: Big Trouble In Little China