Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (1/10)

by Tony Medley

This is a sci-fi futuristic film set in 1939. The production notes for it state, “Featuring state-of-the-art special effects never seen before, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow represents a trailblazing moment in cinematic history. With more than 2000 effects shots, this unprecedented feature uses live action filmed against blue screen and fills in every frame detail digitally, after the completion of principal photography.” Sky Captain had no sets and no locations. Everything except the actors is computer generated.

You’ll notice that there is no mention of script or story or directing or acting. And with good reason. There is no evidence of script or story or directing or acting. It’s all special effects. It’s not even pleasing to the eye because the color is more sepia-like, the antithesis of “glorious Technicolor."

Joe “Sky Captain” Sullivan (Jude Law) flies a P40 Warhawk WWII fighter. He’s searching for a guy named Totenkopf, an elusive German scientist who has created horrible machines that in March of 1939 attack New York City. Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an intrepid journalist who fears nothing and has had a relationship with Sky and goes with him to search for Totenkopf, leading to some outlandish adventures.

Since this is a takeoff on pulp fiction stories, nothing in this film equates to reality or makes sense. Sky can fly his small fighter pilot around the world without refueling. He runs into Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie) another old flame who’s floating around the world in a refueling station who helps him and gets Polly jealous. Don’t go to see this film for Angelina because she couldn’t have spent more than a couple of days filming her scenes, she’s in so few. It’s almost fraudulent to advertise her as one of the three co-stars.

One thing I did like about it was that in one scene where Sky and Polly are looking for something they come to a room with the number 1138 on it, a subtle homage to George Lucas, whose first film was THX 1138 (1971).

The film is not visually pleasing because of the lack of good color. It’s not intellectually pleasing due to the lack of a reasonable story or good humor. It’s another film where there’s absolutely no tension because, despite overwhelming odds, you know that Sky is never going to be vanquished. He goes up against, literally, thousands of adversaries and never gets a scratch.

The script is not funny or even humorous, or logical, or satirical.  There is no logic. The sepia type color makes it unpleasant to watch. If this is the future for major Hollywood films, just Computer Graphic Images (CGI) and virtually nothing else, I’d rather watch the old Buster Crabbe Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon films made in the ‘30s, which you could have seen for a dime, first run.

September 18, 2004

The End