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Overall Rating
3.59

Awesome: 26.49%
Worth A Look34.59%
Average: 16.22%
Pretty Bad: 16.76%
Total Crap: 5.95%

12 reviews, 113 user ratings


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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
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by Jay Seaver

"A perfect escape."
5 stars

I don't know where to begin with what I loved about Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, so I'll start with the opening credits, which have a wonderful 1930s look that required twenty-first century computer graphics to create. The soundtrack is perfect, borrowing from the same sources that John Williams used for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Superman. Speaking of Superman, the general feel of this movie brought to mind those great Fleischer Superman cartoons. In the real 1930s, animation was the only way to create this kind of bigger-than-life adventure on the screen, but writer/director Kerry Conran has incredible tools at his disposal to build a world directly out of his imagination. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's got Jude Law and Gwynneth Paltrow, either.

Paltrow, in particular, is perfect here as Pollly Perkins, the kind of thirties career girl who could handle anything the men could while also looking gorgeous in her red lipstick and high heels. She's perfect glammed up for the period, able to toss of wisecracks, wither men with a look, and take the wonders around her in stride. She's an icon but also an individual.

Law's character is iconic, too; his Joe Sullivan is the courageous playboy adventurer who finds the girl initially annoying but falls into an easy rapport with her. During the period in which Sky Captain is set, the "superhero" hasn't yet been codified, and there's a feeling that any kid could grow up to be him. He's as quick-witted as Polly but not as sharp-tongued.

Also on board is Angelina Jolie as Captain Frankie Cook, who doesn't appear until halfway through the movie but manages to crank the tension between Polly and Joe up a notch and is a commanding presence in the midst of a fantastic anachronism.

It's worth bringing up the cast first because they are the ones who sell this world to the audience. The world of Sky Captain is almost entirely created inside a computer, even more so than the last two Star Wars movies were, and though I'm one of those movies' staunchest defenders, it's this cast that displays the most comfort with their unreal (and non-present) surroundings. They're good enough that they can react to a swarm of CGI robots and banter wittily at the same time. Heck, Conran even ends the movie on a joke, letting our last impression be how these guys play off each other.

But this movie's got more than just characterization; any movie with a decent script can do that. This movie's got some of the most stunning visuals committed to film, and it just keeps coming. From the giant robots invading New York, we move on to other robots, incredible air battles, monsters, gigantic flying fortresses that would make Nick Fury jealous, an incredible underwater battle, and the astonishing inside of the sinister Totenkopf's private island. I realize I'm talking like the front of a 1935 pulp magazine here, but it's fitting. Kerry Conran and his brother Kevin, the film's production designer, swipe liberally from old comics, Old Hollywood, and old pulps to construct a consistent world, and then have great fun pitting Joe, Polly, and Frankie against Totenkopf's forces.

By now many have seen the way the Conrans filmed the actors against blue screen and then built the movie around them, and it's got a somewhat surprising effect - even in cases where the special effects aren't absolutely perfect, it's okay, because that's in line with the rest of the movie. By building the movie as a patchwork, they manage to make it cohesive. And they clearly love this genre and period. Even as the movie is frequently very funny, it's funny in a genuine 1930s manner, not mocking the trappings at all. That's why when the movie serves up cliffhanging adventure, it can get away with trapping Joe and Polly in a room stuffed to the rafters with dynamite. And when an action sequence finishes with an improbable escape, the audience doesn't sneer, and doesn't just laugh - the preview audience responded with actual mid-movie applause. You'll know which sequence when you see it.

The applause rule alone would get Sky Captain a perfect rating, but that's just the point when everyone in the audience expressed their joy. I had a foolish grin on my face for the entire hundred-five minute running time, and not just because I love the comics, pulp sci-fi, and movies that the Conrans borrow from so liberally. Sky Captain doesn't just borrow; it knows what makes a fun movie and delivers it in its purest form.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10762&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/17/04 23:51:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/26/09 Ganry41 These vocabularies, the syntax which structures them, and their set of speech sound units, 5 stars
10/26/09 Gangster90 Atlantic Yards project, the largest ever in Brooklyn, to build a basketball arena plus at l 3 stars
10/26/09 Mr.Carrot74 In effect, a dual-processor hyper-threaded machine provides four processors and ser 4 stars
10/24/09 Roy93 Well, this is a fantastic description, perhaps less becoming a scientist than a poet. , < 2 stars
10/24/09 Bob25 The plantings are chosen to be wind and drought resistant and modules can be rotated seas 5 stars
10/23/09 Loy62 In all likelihood, there is an archive or two that you know are critical for you to visit 2 stars
10/23/09 Crazy82 We need to find ways to remove c02 from the atmosphere. , 5 stars
10/23/09 Roy43 In some cases, our success at preventing fires for nearly a century has altered natural pro 5 stars
10/23/09 Arnold91 Therefore, using cache-aligned memory can reduce the number of cache updates necessary wh 3 stars
9/21/09 lopolongboards.com Even if there are less valued employees in the firm, the highly-valued ones will drive the 5 stars
9/16/09 xJNVqWokXRMFZKRA doors.txt;10;15 4 stars
9/14/09 www.apc.gov.ab.ca For the fitness that we are pursuing, every parameter within your control needs to be modul 2 stars
4/22/09 Dr.Lao Enjoyable homage to a nearly forgotten genre 4 stars
12/23/08 Popcorn muncher Great flick. Losers hated it because it went way over their heads 4 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner This is the kind of movie you fall asleep too. 1 stars
5/27/08 PAUL SHORTT AMAZING TO LOOK AT BUT NOT AS MUCH FUN AS IT SHOULD BE TO WATCH 3 stars
7/12/07 MaDmAN Very stylized look but soooooo boring 2 stars
5/23/07 dude stunning but overall boring 2 stars
3/27/07 David Pollastrini Great fx 3 stars
3/21/07 dude ggod 4 stars
2/04/07 William Goss A gloriously glossy and supremely superficial diversion worthy of a lazy afternoon. 4 stars
7/21/06 Anthony Feor BORING 1 stars
7/06/06 drydock54321 it's different. 4 stars
4/10/06 Thomas Semesky The actors interaction with the blue screened backgrounds lack emotion 2 stars
1/30/06 the laughing man Brings us back to the 50s in imaginative ways. 5 stars
12/06/05 Sir Spam-a-lot Coulda been worse 3 stars
9/04/05 Quigley i am so sick of jude law being in every movie, especially sci-fi. skip this movie, please. 2 stars
8/15/05 cristeen69 so so ,boring over budget film 2 stars
8/12/05 Renee is Gabby I has some cool inventiveness but is let down by scripting and application 3 stars
7/27/05 Indrid Cold At some point after Jurassic Park, CGI extravaganzas became no big deal. WAL though. 4 stars
7/04/05 Ben Baxter Cheesy, without being funny. 2 stars
7/02/05 sam bonner the acting is wooden, but the adventure and effects are exciting 4 stars
6/20/05 darick Good graphics, action, average acting, irritatingly tried and tested story 3 stars
6/18/05 chris. better than i exxpected. very pretty. 4 stars
5/05/05 Kristi Achilleos Cool movie! i;ll definitely buy this on dvd! its so cool! all the scenes had smthn special! 5 stars
5/01/05 J K Rowling overrated 3 stars
4/29/05 matt 10000 pounds of dynamite are about to blow. lets take cover behind this box of dynamite 2 stars
4/13/05 Quigley great science fiction with cardboard characters and horrid screenwriting. thats all it is 4 stars
4/09/05 B Kniprath Very intesting movie. Good plot, for 1940's. 4 stars
4/01/05 keithers.. a fun ride but totally cgi gets annoying 3 stars
3/31/05 hannaho Exciting adventure from this new filmaker. 5 stars
3/23/05 HL A Fun Ride..Entertaning...Well Made Romp. 4 stars
3/07/05 Charlie Dinosaurs were lame crap, but the rest of the movie was interesting and exciting. 3 stars
3/04/05 Mider nice stuff people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung definitely unique...great actors to watch 4 stars
2/20/05 Alice Colwell not much of a story to it 3 stars
2/18/05 tatum One of the most beautiful looking films ever made 5 stars
2/09/05 Dr Hock Oh so pretty, yet oh so aweful. 1 stars
2/04/05 Barbara Long Really strange flick. Wasn't my thing. 3 stars
2/03/05 Clifford C Gardner Not great - but a nice change in style 4 stars
2/02/05 Sheila awesome effects, holds your interest 5 stars
2/01/05 Kenneth Hannan The cartoony style got old fast. 3 stars
1/31/05 Lisa Craven Hated it and couldn't watch more than 2 minutes. My kids thought it was okay. 2 stars
1/31/05 Brian The cinnematography was laid on so thick that I couldn't see or appreciate the juvenile pro 1 stars
1/30/05 bongeezer What is this? 2 stars
1/29/05 darlenecom Brings you back to long ago days when you were young and thought you could do anything. 4 stars
1/26/05 Bobby da Squid Visually incredible but ultimately nonsensical and dull 3 stars
11/10/04 angelina jolie A revolutionary film 5 stars
10/31/04 JOE KENNEDY A GREAT SYTLISH FILM, WHAT THE ROCKETEER SHOULD HAVE BEEN, WEAK STORY AWESOME FILM MAKING 4 stars
10/29/04 Alex different indeed 4 stars
10/28/04 Kathleen Not very entertaining but ok...."Special" effects? 3 stars
10/26/04 John intriguing concept but has NO story NO charachters, bad effects and sub standard action 1 stars
10/19/04 Misty De Meo There's no real innovation in the plot, but it didn't need it - it was just plain fun. 4 stars
10/17/04 Aaron Smith Amazing visuals, the airborne aircraft carrier scene alone is worth the price of admission! 5 stars
10/11/04 Tom vision imaginative, but Law,Paltrow not as good as Jolie 3 stars
10/10/04 Steve It was different and that's what made it a great movie. 4 stars
10/06/04 your worst goddamn nightmare pretty, entertaining, silly little adventure flick that I liked 4 stars
10/06/04 Chris A film not afraid to do something different, looks great and has an awesome imagination. 4 stars
10/05/04 Jim Looks so good you almost don't notice the script is kind of crummy. 3 stars
10/04/04 vickie pretty to look at, boring after a few minutes. Dialogue was terrible. Ugh. 2 stars
10/03/04 Margaret Picture shot in sephia except for Polly's red lipstick, slow story, ugly art deco. 2 stars
10/03/04 Zai Sorry ..I had to walk out it was so boring. My husband and I BOTH fell alseep watching it. 1 stars
9/30/04 Jimmy Wanted to love it for it's style. But after the first 30 mins the film turned to shit 2 stars
9/30/04 irene did they even read the script before signing up? 2 stars
9/30/04 X DON'T GIVE AWAY THE ENDING TO SUCH A KICK-ASS MOVIE! 5 stars
9/30/04 Freddie Visually stimulating 5 stars
9/28/04 mkuntz A terrific entertainment: visually stunning, exciting, funny and good natured. Great! 5 stars
9/28/04 NICE GUY THE FIRST OF ITS KIND NICE 1 HOLLYWOOD 5 stars
9/27/04 Whatevr It was cool 5 stars
9/27/04 J. Bethancourt An unpretitious, purely entertainment romp. I loved it. 5 stars
9/27/04 LB If you are a fan of pulp adventure, run right out and see this immediately. 5 stars
9/27/04 Dog Lips completely boring. lame dialog, gratuitous explosions 2 stars
9/27/04 Koitus Fantastic figher sequences, in the city. But .. exactly "who" was controlling the robots? 4 stars
9/26/04 Heather This is the director's FIRST movie, WTF??!! 5 stars
9/24/04 Al Guy Robots- Great! Effects - Good! Characters - eehhh. 4 stars
9/23/04 Marcia Lartz Slow start, more compelling resolution. Gwyneth's poutiness grows a little taxing. 4 stars
9/23/04 Clock It's aight 3 stars
9/23/04 el burro Completely retarded beginning to end. 1 stars
9/22/04 KingNeutron Unique look, but I hope they do better with the plot +char. interaction next time. 4 stars
9/22/04 drfardook Average acting but its a visually stunning film. Its a fantastic pulp film. 4 stars
9/22/04 chimpy121 Extremely fun with great eye-candy. 5 stars
9/21/04 nick2k i liked it alot...nice retroesque adventure movie. been awhile... 4 stars
9/20/04 Eric Herman Utter nonsense. Never has there been a film more damaging to the 'steampunk' genre. 1 stars
9/20/04 T.J. Wood Clever vintage comic book adventure -- but the use of the image of Olivier was jarring. 4 stars
9/20/04 YSBEE See You in Last Era! 5 stars
9/20/04 BrianWilly Beautiful and witty as hell 5 stars
9/20/04 Naka Glorious, visually brilliant fun. 5 stars
9/20/04 dredphul all sfx, bad acting, no plot 1 stars
9/19/04 Kris no. Gwyneth, eat something. PLEASE. 1 stars
9/19/04 Jiz Cheesy, weird, but entertaining overall. 4 stars
9/19/04 Vicious Lovely visuals with a cool adventure story. 5 stars
9/19/04 Rooktoven Great eye candy and humor, dialogue a bit stiff 4 stars
9/19/04 CharWar I loved it! Can't wait to see it again. So different and fun! 5 stars
9/19/04 Heidi Shanklin The renderings are stunningly beautiful. A wonderful little movie 5 stars
9/19/04 Bill Very beautiful to look at, but superficial and predictable. Paltrow was very irritating. 2 stars
9/19/04 Titus So much fun! 5 stars
9/19/04 asdf Fun movie. I liked the Classic Pulp style. 4 stars
9/18/04 Kris The whole time, I was thinking "Blue screen, greeen screen, we all scream for ice cream" 1 stars
9/18/04 Naka FANTASTIC! Wonderfully original and brilliant all around. 5 stars
9/18/04 Sarcastro Derivative and hokey. Feels like something the Japanese would make. Actors wooden as well. 2 stars
9/17/04 Matt Seaver Amazing. A treat for the eyes. Early screenings make me happy! 5 stars
9/16/04 Jeff Incredible retro sci-fi flick. Something different. See it! 5 stars
9/10/04 Ray Good 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Sep-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 25-Jan-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Feb-2005


Directed by
  Kerry Conran

Written by
  Kerry Conran

Cast
  Jude Law
  Gwyneth Paltrow
  Angelina Jolie
  Giovanni Ribisi
  Michael Gambon



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