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Thursday, March 31, 2011



Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a stylized sci-fi action film directed by Kerry Conran. The film takes place in an alternate reality in 1939, which in true history would have placed the setting just before the onset of the second World War. When an army of metallic machines invades and attacks a section of downtown New York, a mysterious man referred to as "Sky Captain" (Jude Law) is summoned to protect the masses. He manages to scare the machines away but takes on another nuisance in their stead: plucky newspaper reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow), a former lover who knows Sky Captain's true identity (his name's Joe, for those wondering). After Joe explains that he and his army-for-hire had encountered such menaces before, his secret base is attacked and his friend and resident weapons expert Dex (Giovanni Ribisi) is kidnapped. In an attempt to save his friend - as well as save the rest of the world - Joe takes Polly on a worldwide quest to find Dex and the source of these mysterious machines.

I guess I had some expectations going into this film - it currently holds a 72% approval rating on the online review aggregate - but maybe I should've read the fine print a little bit. Let's start with screenplay. There's really not much in terms of a great plot here, but I suppose it does enough to be serviceable. It should be noted that it's very easy to follow, but for this particular film, that facet works against it. This is the epitome of a "multitasking" movie, in that you can be working on any number of other things while you watch it, not giving it your full attention, and you'll still know exactly what's going on. Some people would find that rather appealing, but I personally don't like it when a movie can't hook me. In fact, that plays into my grading process, and I can tell you now that Sky Captain did not fare well in that particular regard.

The acting is also serviceable, but there's really nothing to stand and applaud. Law and Paltrow are good as our leads, and they play off each other well, but they're definitely not reaching either of their respective potential. Ribisi is good for a laugh here and there, but he's given much too little screen-time - I wanted more of his character, but I never got it. We do have some small appearances that should be worth mentioning: Angelina Jolie comes into to play Franky, another of Sky Captain's former flings; Michael Gambon appears as Polly's editor-in-chief; and the great Sir Laurence Olivier was resurrected through computer-generation and archive audio to create the film's central villain.

A tip of the hat should go to Edward Shearmur, who provided a rousing orchestral score for the film. Although it feels a little bloated at times, it works well for this film's particular purposes.

Overall, Sky Captain is all about style while lacking any real substance. A lot of money was thrown into the visual portion of the film, and I just wish they would've put a little more thought into the storyline and the characters. There's no real character arc for anyone in the film - okay, maybe a tiny bit for Sky Captain and Polly - and the story just wasn't compelling enough to capture my interest. A film without a decent hook is not going to fare well.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: D+
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  1. When we did the review we gave it a 2 out of 6 stars. It could have been so much better if they would have done it similar to the Rocketeer

  2. That's about where I'd put it.

  3. I think it's unfair to grade every movie on plot complexity, not every movie SHOULD have a complex plot.
    I also think the style and Pulp-action-noir themes of the movie carry it a long way.