Sky Captain and the World of HOLY SHIT!

Journal - Reviews

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Movie Review

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow


When I first saw the trailer for Sky Captain, my reaction was, 'that could be the greatest 20 minute movie ever made'. It was inconceivable to me that a film that was so highly stylized, and relied so much on special effects could hold together for an hour and a half.


Well, let me tell you, not only does it hold together like an ass suffering from the stomach flue, It so relentlessly delivers jaw dropping images that it is almost exhausting. The latter is a lot to say, in this day and age. To compare it to much more high budget fare like Star Wars Episode 1 or 2, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy is almost unfair, because neither of those franchises comes close to capturing the epic excitement that Sky Captain does.


I can already hear fan babies crying. The Star Wars prequels have pretty obviously polished out most of their epic nature with way too much money to make the actors look like they're hiking through Toon Town, but how can you say that about LOTR!? Just wait for the Return of the King Special Edition to come out on DVD and I'll get into it -- but in a nut shell, Lucas nor Jackson seem to know how to use their resources to their most visually dramatic potential.


Sky Captain is 100% visual drama. From the moment that the Hindenburg III docks on the Empire State building, and hands point into the air like constructivist posters, it is a roller coaster ride like no other. So much so, that there could never possibly be a sequel, because you'll find that there was not a single visual concept of serial filmmaking that wasn't stuffed into this one film.


One thing you'll notice right off, is that it looks INFINITELY better on the big screen than it does on TV. TV ads made it look a bit blurry and awkward. The last thing you'll realize, to it's credit, is that the production design and costumes are flawless. Yes, flawless. Not once, was I ever pulled out of the film by some piece of inappropriate furniture or hat. 


The special effects were also surprisingly effective, considering the amount of compositing they had to do. The only times, though, I was taken out of the film was a quick homage to Godzilla in a newspaper montage -- just inappropriate -- and a shot of a very crude looking computer generated skeleton. Even the computer generated animals didn't pull me out of the story.


Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

The closest film to compare it to, at least conceptually, is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Taking the afternoon serial and creating a post-modern homage that is pure escapism. The differences are that these two films take completely opposite tracks in doing so. Sky Captain is not Indian Jones. Not for the lack of being heroic, but for the lack of any sort of character. Sky Captain is like flipping through your favorite comic book so fast that you are ignoring every word being spoken by a character so that you can get to the next full page, grandiose illustration. Indian Jones is like entering the comic panel and not only reading every word he says, but getting a glimpse at the thought bubbles you never even noticed existed.


Jude Law is perfectly cast as Sky Captain, as well as Giovanni Ribisi as his faithful sidekick, Dex. Angelina Jolie's cameo stands tall on it's own, and actually becomes one of the most interesting characters in the film. But Gwyneth. Gwyneth! For the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow has proven herself in other roles, such as the Royal Tannenbaums or even Shallow Hal, I would assume she knew nothing of acting. This was the most flat and two dimensional character I have ever seen outside of a student film. The one grace was that she did play it confidently.


My guess was that under the circumstances, not having a single standing set constructed and being splayed out in a blue room for a month to shoot, it just wasn't a productive Gwyneth situation.


The roles in this film, were probably more based around 'pretending' than 'acting'. Any 12 year old tomboy who grew up with Star Wars action figures instead of Barbies probably could have played the role better than Gwyneth. But that tomboy isn't going to be able to hold up in dinner theater. The boys in the film, though, were right there 100% of the time, milking what little characterization they could out of a mediocre story.


That's that, on Sky Captain. My recommendation is to see it on the big screen, while you can, and go in understanding that the entire genre it is inspired by is based off of bad writing.