'Sky Captain' lands on DVD
Ed Bradley ~ Friday, January 28, 2005 ~ Flint Journal
Flint's Kerry Conran got
to relive the sense of excitement of making his first movie, "Sky Captain
and the World of Tomorrow," when he helped prepare the home video version.
He admits he did the obligatory director's commentary "in a state of shock
- I'd never done one before, obviously," Conran said recently from Los
Angeles. "I hope it sheds some light on how the film was made."
This week's DVD and VHS release
of "Sky Captain" - a science-fiction adventure starring Jude Law, Gwyneth
Paltrow and Angelina Jolie - caps a whirlwind time for Conran. He created
the film's unusual look - its all-digital backgrounds - on his home computer,
then in 1999 found major-studio backing for his first film, which he wrote
and directed for release last September. The "Sky Captain" DVD (Paramount,
$29.99) includes deleted scenes, a gag reel and five behind-the-scenes
featurettes. One of the latter contains the six-minute short that Conran
initially created to sell the film. To unearth the primitive short of robots
invading Depression-era Manhattan was "a bit embarrassing, frankly," Conran
said. "Some people will be shocked that it was what got the film made.
But it can be something of an encouragement to people that they can sit
in their home and create something" for a movie.
Conran and brother Kevin
- the production designer for "Sky Captain" - are working on their second
film, an adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs tale "John Carter of Mars."
By the time that movie is ready for DVD, there will be plenty of available
material for extras. "The great thing now is that there are people who
can take the time to document" the making of "John Carter," Conran said.
"In fact, there are people now who are already thinking about those things."
For "Sky Captain," he said,
"we didn't have a lot of footage of the (production) process from day one
- but there was just enough." In "Sky Captain," set in 1939, the titular
flier-adventurer (Law) and a persistent newspaper reporter flame (Paltrow)
seek the mastermind of a plot to rule the world through attacks by giant
robots and the kidnapping of prominent scientists.
Despite much positive response,
"Sky Captain" grossed only $37.7 million, slightly less than the $40 million
it took to produce. (The use of digital backgrounds, before which the actors
emoted, made "Sky Captain" cost much less than a typical action-fantasy
film.) "Clearly all of us were disappointed that not everyone could see
the film," said Conran. It didn't help that "Sky Captain" was delayed from
a plum June release date last year to September because of post-production
delays. "It would've helped us to have the June date ... but the film was
promised (by Paramount) on a date that was not realistic," Conran said.
He also said the marketing missed on targeting the coveted under-30 male
"The film might have been
seen as something for their parents, something old-fashioned," he said.
"But it also was something very contemporary. "The great thing now is that
people can take the time to discover it (on video), to find that it is
something for everyone."
© 2005 Flint Journal
Chimps have 'sense of
Human decisions tend
to be emotional and vary depending on the other people involved
NEWS ~ January 26, 2005
display a similar sense of fairness to humans, one which is shaped by social
relationships, experts claim. They found that, like humans, chimps react
to unfairness in various ways depending on their social situation. Details
of the study appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B:
Biological Sciences. A similar finding has been reported in capuchin monkeys,
suggesting that a sense of fairness may have a long evolutionary history
In the study by researchers
at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, US, chimps were
paired to see how they would respond if one received a better reward than
the other for doing the same amount of work. When the pair came from a
group that had known each other only a short time, the unfairly treated
chimp responded negatively. An animal rewarded with cucumbers - instead
of highly prized grapes - "downed tools" and refused to do any more work.
But when the pair were from a close-knit social group that had bonded over
a long period of time, unfairness was more likely to be tolerated.
Fair play award
The same reaction is seen
in humans, who tend to react negatively to unfair situations with strangers,
but not when they involve family members or friends. "Human decisions tend
to be emotional and vary depending on the other people involved," said
Dr Sarah Brosnan, of Yerkes National Primate Research Centre. "Our finding
in chimpanzees implies this variability in response is adaptive and emphasises
there is not one best response for any given situation but rather it depends
on the social environment at the time." In a previous study, the same team
identified a sense of fairness in capuchin monkeys. "Identifying a sense
of fairness in two, closely-related nonhuman primate species implies it
could have a long evolutionary history," Dr Brosnan explained. "The capuchin
responses as well as those of the chimpanzees - the most closely related
species to humans - could represent stages in the evolution of the complex
responses to inequity exhibited by humans and may help explain why we make
The scientists found chimps
demonstrated "inequity aversion" when they were treated unfairly, but not
when they received the better reward. They seemed willing to take advantage
of good luck while their partner lost out. The same response was seen in
capuchins. But even this selfish response mirrored human behaviour, said
the researchers. "Whereas people may prefer equity to any sort of inequity,
advantageous inequity is typically preferred to disadvantageous inequity,"
the researchers write in Proceedings B. "Most people tend to respond by
psychological rather than material compensation - that is, justifying why
they deserved a superior reward - and most people will choose to ignore
information that could lead to a more fair outcome at a cost to the self."
ALSO AT THE BBC NEWS SITE:
Are Cultured Creatures
sharing evolve from group hunting
show sense of justice
chimp takes up smoking
Today ~ New DVD Release
By Justin RudeWashington
Post Staff Writer ~ washingtonpost.com January 23, 2005
The retro-futuristic "Sky
Captain and the World of Tomorrow" got mixed reviews from critics, but
its throwback visual style and digital filmmaking techniques were widely
touted for being on the cutting edge.
Set in an alternate and
idealized 1939, "Sky Captain" tracks a dashing pilot (Jude Law) and an
intrepid reporter (Gwyneth Paltrow) as they embark on a globe-trekking
quest to save the world from a mad scientist. The plot's archetypal themes
and heroes of yesteryear's pulps leave much to be desired, but the DVD
offers much more, with extras that focus on the film's unusual creative
Digital high-definition cameras
filmed the main actors in front of a blue screen, and that footage was
later inserted into computer-generated environments. Using this technique
to create an entire feature-length film was a big undertaking, and two
featurettes look at how it was done.
The DVD also includes a short
film by director Kerry Conran and his brother Kevin Conran, a production
designer on "Sky Captain." The six-minute homemade movie was so well received
by Paramount that the studio signed up Kerry -- who had never before worked
on a major studio film -- to direct a full-length version. The short also
inspired Paltrow, who had not yet seen a script, to agree to play a role
in the film.
Two commentary tracks, concept
art, deleted scenes and a gag reel round out the DVD's extras.
"Sky Captain" is one of
several new films that inserts digital footage of real actors into computer-generated
environments. With such big names as director Robert Rodriguez ("Spy Kids")
working on similar projects, it's fitting that this DVD pays so much attention
to filmmaking techniques. In the long run, the methods pioneered in "Sky
Captain" may have more staying power than the film itself.
Sky Captain And the World
Paramount Home Video; DVD
$29.99; rated PG
Ed McMahon remembers Carson
Monday, January 24, 2005
Despite the tobacco
habit, Carson was "always a health nut, very proud of his body," said McMahon.
He got a kick out of doing the Tarzan sketches where he was in a nude-to-the-waist
costume that showed off his fit form.
Neko Case roars on behalf of tigers; works with Sadies on upcoming CD
January 17, 2005 ~ Canada's
(CP) - You don't often hear country singers crooning about animal captivity.
But singer Neko Case, who has always steered off traditional roads, says
she was inspired to write a song about a caged tiger who went crazy walking
in circles after reading numerous headlines about the beasts last year.
"It was a really bad year for the tigers," she says earnestly. "I cannot
figure out how your average citizen gets hold of an exotic animal and has
it on their farm or their theme park. Why is this allowed?" The 34-year-old
performer tackles the issue on her latest album, The Tigers Have Spoken,
a live CD recorded at shows in Toronto and Chicago last year.
points to the Siegfried and Roy mauling as an example of what can happen
when wildcats are trapped in unnatural conditions. There was also the shooting
death of Bobo, owned by one-time Tarzan actor Steve Sipek. The animal was
killed after escaping from his owner's Miami compound.
the title track she laments: "They shot the tiger on his chain/In a field
behind the cages/He walked in circles 'til he was crazy/And he lived that
DISNEY CHANNEL HILITES
Lightyear of Star Command" and "The Legend of Tarzan" marathons
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21 (11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., ET/PT)
Disney presents a President's Day Marathon featuring the wildly popular
Disney animated film "Lilo and Stitch," followed by 4 episodes each
of "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" and "The Legend of Tarzan."
Stolen statue of Cheeta
returned to the sanctuary
By Kakie Urch ~ The
Desert Sun ~ January 15th, 2005
The bronze chimp that
marks the home of Hollywood’s beloved Cheeta has been returned.
Stolen during Christmas week
from the Casa de Cheeta primate sanctuary where the retired movie star
ape makes his home, the 90-pound statue was returned by a Palm Springs
resident who had bought it. According to Dan Westfall, who operates the
sanctuary, a resident from less than 2 miles away put a note in the mailbox
saying he had purchased it off the person who had stolen it. "He was nice
enough to let me know he thought he had it," Westfall said, noting the
man didn’t know the statue had been stolen. As for the star of the
Tarzan movies and "Dr. Doolittle,"? "He was excited to see it. He was just
happy. He knew it was missing." Cheeta, the world’s oldest known
living chimpanzee, is 72, about 20 years past the 50-year average life-expectancy
for chimpanzees in captivity. He lives with 11 other primates in the sanctuary
operated by Westfall at 1033 Francis Drive. The sanctuary isn’t open to
the public, but tour buses of celebrity homes make the facade a regular
stop. Westfall, director of CHEETA, Committee to Help the Environment of
Endangered and Threatened Apes, the nonprofit that runs the sanctuary,
had made a public call for the return of the statue. "We’re happy to have
it back and Cheetah’s happy to have it back," Westfall said. "It’s going
to be welded down. It was chained down before and the lock was picked,"
Tree house in the grand
Martin Wainwright ~ Wednesday
January 12, 2005 ~ The
. . . The multi-branched
wood and concrete Swiss Family Robinson tree house was a long-standing
feature of Adventureland sections of Disney theme parks. Based on the 1960
film derived from Johann Wyss's book about the marooned but inventive family,
it was even given its own botanical name: Disney-dendron semperflorens
grandis, or large, ever-blooming Disney tree. Since 1999, the identical,
24 metre high structures in Paris, Florida and the other parks have been
rebranded as Tarzan's Treehouse. . .
Danton Burroughs' first
choice to play his grandfather in an ERB film bio pic:
Kevin Spacey signs on as
Lex Luther in "Superman Returns,"
Some interesting fan reviews
of the John Carter novel set sold on CD through Amazon