Written and Directed by
Running Time: 1:47
for sequences of stylized
sci-fi violence and brief mild language.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a fun and exciting ride from start to finish.
Our story takes place in a futuristic version of the past. A madman is terrorizing the world, using giant mechanical robots to destroy cities. No one knows who he is, or what he wants, but a dying scientist tells our ace reporter Polly Perkins that if this madman gets a hold of the two vials the scientist has, the world will come to an end. Enter daring pilot Joe "Sky Captain" Sullivan to try and save the day. Along with his trusty sidekick Dex Dearborn and former love interest Capt. Franky Cook, Joe and Polly try and track down the madman and save the world from total destruction!
If Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow were your standard action film, I would have still enjoyed it. But it's not your standard action film; not by a long shot. The hook of the movie is that just about everything you see is computer generated. All the sets, all the backgrounds, anything that's not human is more than likely not really there. The movie took six years to complete, with the entire film created on computers first, then the actors acting in front of a blue screen and edited in later. What you have at the end is a tremendous achievement that looked more real than a lot of action films you see today. But to me, the real key is that the story and characters were strong enough, that once you got past the hook, you could still enjoy the movie. My first thought was to compare it to Anchorman, the latest Will Ferrell comedy (bear with me, I have a point.) I thought Anchorman was an OK film. The problem was, you basically had this one joke character, that got stretched into a full length film. Once you got past the initial joke, the rest of the movie got kind of boring. In Sky Captain, once I got past the amazement of the visuals, I still enjoyed the movie.
There was an extended airborne chase sequence early on in the movie that blew me away. As my friend said, it was almost like being in a virtual reality ride in Disney World. You felt like you were in the airplane, flying through the streets of Manhattan with giant bird-like airplanes chasing you down. That chase was easily the highlight of the film for me, and when it was over, that's when I hit the 'OK, now show me what you really have to offer' part of the movie. From that point on, the story and characters became the important part of the movie, and the visuals, while still amazing, took a backseat. The story, while at times a bit strange and at the end a little preachy, was engaging enough to keep me interested. Why was this madman running rampant over major cities? Where did these giant creatures come from? Following Joe and Polly from New York to Nepal was exciting, then ending up in the middle of nowhere into a world that reminded me a lot of Jurassic Park was also a lot of fun. The worlds that were created by CGI were incredible and at times for a moment I really believed they were climbing up snow covered mountains, or wandering through jungles. Having Dex kidnapped made the story more personal, so that it wasn't just Joe and Polly saving the world, it was Joe and Polly saving a friend.
So the other thing that was important in keeping my interest, was the acting. I'm a huge fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, and honestly believe when all is said and done, people will look back and consider her one of the greatest actresses of our generation. So granted that little bias certainly helped the cause, but I enjoyed her performance the more the movie went on, as her character became less reporter-ish and more of a human. When she finally sees who it was Joe had an affair with those many years ago, and the two of them start acting like a couple in love who can't stand each other, you could see the emotion in her eyes. Jude Law was as funny and engaging as he always is. He always looks like he's got a little sparkle in his eye, like he knows something you don't and finds it all very amusing. Giovanni Ribisi, having come a long way from being Phoebe's half-brother on Friends was very compelling as the sidekick, almost little brother to Joe. You could tell he really looked up to the Sky Captain, and would be wiling to do anything to help him out. And Angelina Jolie... even in an eye patch she's still one of the hottest women around. Her role was small, but you could see she was having fun with it. Instead of having to carry the entire film on her shoulders, she was able to let loose and enjoy herself, and it made her character fun to watch.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I really enjoyed Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The visual effects were absolutely amazing and I hope people give the movie a chance. It's very high concept, but the best thing about it is that it's not just concept. The movie has a good story and some great characters so that even if you get past the look of the movie, you're still interested in what happens next. And that has always been the key to a good movie; wanting more.