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Sky Captain and the World of Tommorrow

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Sky Captain and the World of Tommorrow

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law
Director: Kerry Conran
Rated: PG
RunTime: 106 Minutes
Release Date: September 2004
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action

*Also starring: Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Gambon, Ling Bai, Omid Djalili, Laurence Olivier

Review by Jerry Saravia
1 star out of 4

The critics have been kind to "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow." I suppose they imagined that sepia-drenched vistas with giant flying robots and flying airstrips borrowed from the futuristic world of "Metropolis" and "Just Imagine" and pop sci-fi tales makes for good cinema. It can but it also helps if something of interest happens in those vistas. "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" is one of the emptiest, tedious action-adventure movies I've seen in a long time. It is so dull, so underimagined on a story level, so devoid of any charm or wit, that you'll leave the theatre wondering why this was even made. Did the director even look at the dailies? As far as I can tell, there is a news reporter (Polly Perkins) played by Gwyneth Paltrow who seeks information on some murdered scientists. One such scientist foretells of some calamity coming their way. Next thing, we know there are dozens of ships coming into New York City circa 1937. They are not ships though, they are giant robots who parade around New York City until they reach some perimeter to do something dastardly. The robots were apparently sent by Dr. Totenkopf (played by a holographic Sir Laurence Olivier) but the reason is unclear - I suspect it is nothing more than world domination. Enter the devil-may-care Sky Captain (Jude Law) whose job is to zoom in and out of cityscapes in his jet without hitting any buildings or billboards, especially when he makes those sharp turns. He wants to wipe out all these robots and hunt and capture the nefarious doctor. Polly wants to come along for the ride so she can take a snapshot or two. Of course, this Polly is so picky that she will not take pictures of just anything, especially when there are only two shots left. I wish I could say there is more to "Sky Captain" - some level of surprise and adventure to keep us giddy and excited. Director Kenny Conran has so fallen in love with these vistas that he assumes they are enough to sustain feature-length. Not so, not when the characters are so disengaged and so humorless. There is barely much of a story and the characters are so paper-thin as to be thinner than paint thinner. You know those nasty paper cuts you can get sometimes - these characters are even thinner than that. They are as robotic as the giant robots themselves. The whole film is an attempt to fashion a world of innocence that never existed except in those pop sci-fi tales and sci-fi movies of yesteryear. That's an admirable idea but it is just an idea. If "Sky Captain" were to be judged on visual aspects alone, it would suffice but then George Lucas has created far more amazing vistas in the "Star Wars" films. Nobody recommends "Star Wars" on special-effects alone. Jude Law attempts to have a good time, but he seems withdrawn from the adventure - as if it he was always hot and bothered. Gwyneth Paltrow, an actress who showed range in "The Talented Mr. Ripley," coasts along on looks alone - as if the look of a 30's woman with Veronica Lake hair was enough. Paltrow should do glamour photos for Elle or Vogue, not for a movie as insubstantial as this one. Only Angelina Jolie as the eyepatch-wearing Franky, Sky Captain's former flame and a damn good pilot herself, shows any sense of joy - too bad, her performance is nothing more than a cameo (and why wasn't she this good as Lara Croft)? Giovanni Ribisi as a gum-chewing sidekick of Sky Captain's has the right attitude but his performance is also short-shrifted and eclipsed by the visuals. As for Laurence Olivier, all I can ask is, why? "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" is a big, lumbering, colossally boring, noisily incoherent mess of a film. It pays homage to "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "King Kong," "Buck Rogers" and even "Jurassic Park," nary the verve, the passion, the humor, the human interest or the excitement (I think I may have spotted one last-minute escapist moment for what is supposedly an escapist adventure). "The Rocketeer," a delirious homage to 30's and 40's serials, had the right attitude and some genuine excitement, and it evoked a time of innocence. This movie is a computerized, digitized dud.

Copyright 2004 Jerry Saravia

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