Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) – Review

2 Stars


For the first 20 minutes or so Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is sensationally entertaining and visually dazzling. Then the plot kicks into gear and all we are left with is the visual dazzle and that is not enough to support a feature-length film. What starts out as exceptional becomes tiresome awfully quick. Director Kerry Conran employs the same green-screen effect that Robert Rodriguez and Zack Synder would go on to use (much more proficiently) in Sin City and 300, respectively. The story begins in New York during the 1940’s, Dr. Walter Jennings is the last surviving member of seven scientists, once chosen to serve at a secret facility stationed outside Berlin at the onset of the first world war. In a frantic state Jennings contacts Metro News reporter Polly Perkins and explains that a secret sect is following him and plans to murder him for his knowledge of an impending global attack. Before long giant robotic machines (that resemble the animated Iron Giant) are raining down mayhem and destruction on NYC.

The goal of the invasion is to unearth large generators, excavate entire steel mills and rob communities of their energy and oil reserves the world over. With military forces stretched thin across the globe, national leaders must once again call on the elite mercenary forces of Sky Captain and his army for hire to uncover the meaning of these troubling events. Joe A.K.A. Sky Captain (Jude Law) must team up with his ex-flame Polly to stop the evil plans of the nefarious Dr. Totenkopf (Sir Laurence Olivier in archive footage). The odd couple track a radio signal to Nepal in the hopes of finding Totenkopf, aided by Franky (Angelina Jolie) a commander of the floating British Royal Navy. The mobile Navy is stationed on a giant floating aircraft carrier hovering the skies at 30,000 feet. The race is on to defeat the mad scientist plans for a Utopian society, rescue Joe’s buddy Dex (Giovanni Ribisi) from his clutches and get Polly’s story in on by deadline.

Sky Captain is all surface and style with very little substance. Sure, there is plenty to marvel at, but even the most amazing sights become muted when the story has no emotional connection, the actors have zero chemistry and the script lacks narrative drive. At heart this is an unabashedly retro piece of work, reveling in the clich├ęs and conventions of cliffhanger-adventure serials that originated in the 1940s.

Director: Kerry Conran
Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Angelina Jolie

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