Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

The world of the 1939 comes alive in all its pulp glory in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, a labor of love by writer/director Kerry Conran, who spent years laboring on his MAC in his garage coming up with a short film that would later morph into the full movie.  Sky Captain is beautiful to just sit back and look at.  Except for the actors, nearly everything in the film was made on a computer.  The actors read their lines and did their movements in front of a blue screen, the Conran and crew created the futuristic world around them.  The look of the film is outstanding, and the most memorable element.  It intentionally looks like an amalgam between old movies and old comics books, and this lends a feeling of nostalgia.  The best choice Conran made was to eschew realism and give Sky Captain a hazy, washed-out look.  This makes the movie seem like it is being played off a decades old reel, a relic from the past.

Not only does Sky Captain look and feel like an old movie, Conran made sure that many of the story and character elements were in place.  All of the cliché characters are there, the dashing hero, the plucky, perky female reporter, they old scientists, mysterious enemies, and the geeky assistant.  Conran wrote a two-fisted story full of giant robots, ray guns, bombers than turn into submersibles, and floating military bases.  It's quite a creation, and all fits very nicely into an Indiana Jones-type mold of action/adventure.  The art deco-esque design of the buildings and cars, along with the Stella McCartney designed wardrobe for some of the stars looks gorgeous.  The main element missing is the story and chemistry.  There is little to no chemistry between Sky Captain (Jude Law, Cold Mountain, Road to Perdition) and Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow, Sylvia, View from the Top).  In fact, every time they have their flirtatious banter, Sky Captain slows to a crawl.  The two dated years before, and with this invasion of robots are just meeting up again.

The story is so ephemeral that long after Sky Captain is over, the only thing people will remember are the gorgeous visuals.  Fantastical images like a zeppelin docking at the top of the Empire State Building, a sky full of flying robots descending upon New York, or smaller, iconic poses of a bunch of hands pointing at the sky are memorable and beautiful.  Aside from a few instances where people are running, forcing the perspective to move with the person, it's hard to tell that everything is fake.  Conran chose to keep the camera static most of the time, which makes it easier for the computer visuals to look more realistic.

Perkins is investigating a story on disappearing scientists.  One of them whispered for her to look for "Totenkopf" before he ran away.  Suddenly, large robots begin attacking the city.  Sky Captain is called in to save the day, and he and Polly soon realize that the scientists and the robots may be connected in a grander scheme.  Perkins and Sky Captain investigate across the world and flirty and argue the same way that these couples always do.  The story is predictable, but it is still fun to watch, which is the point of a film like this. 

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.

1 hour, 47 minutes, Rated PG for a sequence of stylized sci-fi violence and brief mild language.

Back to Movies