Following in the spirit of Oshii's thoughtful (if highly pretentious) Ghost In The Shell, The Sky Crawlers is characterised by its melancholic tone, minimalist dialogue, and broody scenes. Unlike Ghost In The Shell though, it lacks anything to be broody about.
In the movie's favour, it has some of the best quality animation I've seen. I'm not just talking about the CGI
battle scenes, but the character models. Their movements and physical actions are a perfect similacra for those of real humans. Speaking of the action scenes, they are fairly gritty and attractive too. Shame the movie keeps them short and pointless, as though determined to not be seen as an action movie.
The Sky Crawlers
is a tale about non-aging beings called "kildren", who are required to engage in never ending dogfights for the purpose of entertainment (or something). Not that the movie explains this right away. It takes the movie a long time to reveal its silly sci-fi plot; so long you'll be wondering why it didn't just spell it out from the beginning (seeing as how the DVD blurb does just that). The reason is that this movie just doesn't have a lot to say, so it is takes as long as possible to say it. As a consequence, we have plenty of navel contemplating
and terse muttering in dull looking rooms. It just comes off as incredibly bland.
The central mystery is about one of the kildren pilots trying to discover what became of his predecessor. It isn't much of a mystery to us. We can guess fairly early on who this pilot actually is, or we would, had we cared in the first place. The movie lacks anything in the way of sympathetic characters, so can't possibly associate with their stupid (but dead serious) situation. When all the big messages about fate and fatalism finally show up in drab monologues, we are beyond interested.
Had they any real length, I might have recommended this movie on its action scenes alone. But due to their shortness and the amount of waiting involved to see them, I can't even do that. Give this one a miss.