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By Phil Hall | February 15, 2005

In “Sky Blue,” Korean filmmaker Moon Sang Kim created an animated feature with artistic effects that are fascinating to behold. But beyond its marvelous animation is an anemic story and dullish plot twists that seem to have been lifted from a dozen other movies.

The year is 2142 and the Earth is in a pretty sad shape. Civilization has been reduced to the Ecoban, an enclosed city fueled by carbonite mined by a worker class called The Diggers. The Ecoban is ruled by a privileged elite who keep The Diggers in wretched physical conditions. Needless to say, The Diggers eventually get annoyed by their wretched state. Under the leadership of Shua, a young and hunky rebel, The Diggers launch their long-overdue revolt. Shua, however, has issues concerning Jay, the red haired (and, oddly, red eyed) female guard who was once his childhood sweetheart but is now employed in the military force assigned to crush the rebellion. These one-time lovers are now shooting at each other, even though their old love has not abated.

“Sky Blue” is a visually stunning achievement, mixing three-dimensional computer-generated animation with traditional cell animation to create an endless series of vibrant, richly-textured imagery. This is a film which demands to be seen on the big screen: the depth and scope of its artwork is brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed.

But sadly, “Sky Blue” does not possess a single original idea. The casual viewer can spot “Metropolis,” “Blade Runner,” “Akira,” “Lord of the Rings,” the “Mad Max” series and even “The Third Man” (with an elaborate sewer chase) in its various twists and turns. There is a depressing sense of been-there/done-that in its derivative sampling of other flicks.

Anime fans who don’t mind watching reruns or ripoffs will get more than enough diversion from “Sky Blue.” For everyone else, it’s a great looking production with no soul or imagination to call its own.

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