by Eric D. Snider
Released: April 15, 2005
There is an epic, even Shakespearean, story of love, technology and environmentalism lost in the self-serious jumble that is "Wonderful Days," a Korean animated film that has been dubbed into English and is being released here under the title "Sky Blue."
It is a century or so in the future and, as is so often the case, we have nearly destroyed the earth. A living city called EcoBan is the only refuge from the acid rain that falls ceaselessly everywhere else, but the guardians of the city are elitists, in the sense that they prefer to have everyone outside the city work as their slaves.
They're called Diggers, these people, and they have to work in mines to obtain resources to keep EcoBan powered up and happy. A Digger rebellion is in the offing, though, led by the mysterious Dr. Noah (an EcoBan expatriate) and helped by a young turk called Shua.
Shua, it turns out, was the childhood friend (and first love) of Jay, a young woman who is now a mid-level security officer for EcoBan. Upon discovering the fate of her friend, Jay is even more conflicted about the goals of EcoBan than she was before. But EcoBan is the only life she has ever known, almost, the only thing keeping her alive, warm and safe.
Do you see the potential for great things here? A conflicted heroine, a forbidden love (it's even a love TRIANGLE!), the struggle of a lower class to rise up against the oppressors, the ethical repercussions of futuristic technology -- these are the raw materials of a brilliant, sweeping film.
"Sky Blue," however, is not that film. It is instead a humorless, dour affair in which everything is treated with such gosh-darn importance that you wonder if the filmmakers thought they were making a documentary, not a cartoon.
Judging the book by its cover, though, the film is beautiful. The people are drawn and animated in the Japanese "anime" style (i.e, they look like real people but move like robots), while the backgrounds are gorgeous and computer-generated. Especially on the big screen, the images are stunning. Yet the dialogue and the voice work are so flat that, regardless of the visual beauty, I can't say I was ever very interested in what was happening.
Note: Whoever the English-language voice actors are, they're not credited in the film's preliminary press kit nor on the Internet, at least not as far as I can find. Hence, none are named in this review.
Not rated, probably PG-13 for a lot of violence, a little mild profanity
1 hr., 30 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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