Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) Poster

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I'm sorry I love it, I just can't help it...
conmech16 November 2007
This movie is somewhat the opposite of "Sin City". Sin City was a movie liked by everyone and made me feel stupid for not liking it. Sky Captain is the opposite I guess, despised by everyone and made me feel immature by liking it. But the movie is just too good not to like, sorry guys.

It gives the great atmosphere of old cinema plus comic books, and it does so perfectly using flying funny looking evil robots, strange laser guns, and comic-book like dialog. And it was the first time I said to myself "wow, Angelina Jolie is actually a good actress". She's nothing like her boob-flashing movies.

And story? For me a story is good as long as it's not boring. And this is a comic-book adaptation, it was MEANT to be silly, and it didn't bother me at all since I was busy enjoying the film. If u're a stiff businessman with no shred of child imagination and if u even hated Star Wars saying "hey, this can't happen in real life", then don't watch this movie. If u're a comic-books fan, watch it and love it. It has a great atmosphere, great visual effects, and it's exciting. And it's fun to watch.
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Movie has a very interesting look and feel
RmatthewC27 November 2004
I had not read about the movie before watching it and was fascinated within the first several minutes and continued to enjoy it through to the end. This movie's unique look and feel is its primary vehicle.

If you are looking for a sophisticated plot, this movie was not made for you. The plot and acting were adequate enough to avoid ruining the visual picture. The makers applied a comic book feel to the movie that allowed for softer edges and sepia tones, both with the animated sets and the human characters. If a set does not look completely realistic, the viewer is not troubled because the set is consistent with everything you see in the movie.

Anyone who has ever edited video or worked with animation would have to appreciate the visual art and quality of this movie. Otherwise, it contains a decent story that would be worth watching at least once.
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Well, I was sort of disappointed...
turbo44530 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I've said this in other reviews, without a story, you can give the audience all the smoke and mirrors you want, still no one will give a damn.

The director seems to have a great eye for 30s art deco (which I love), and I think the idea of using all digital backgrounds and such could indeed be the wave of the future in movie making. However, it's obvious the director got so interested in the digital rendering of his movie, he forgot to film many scenes which would have enormously helped this surprisingly thinned-plotted film. (SPOILER) For crying out loud, they forgot to have a villain in this thing! OK they have one, but he's been dead for 20 years by the time the movie takes place. Conran misses the point of HAVING a villain. As far as action goes, well let's see, Sky Captain (Law) shoots down ONE robot, two or three of the flapping wing airplanes (before Dex (Ribisi) tells him to stop shooting them down!!!), and a couple robots, but mostly spends his time looking dashing and getting others to fight his battles for him. Paltrow as Polly or Peggy or Punky or whatever is totally wasted in this movie (the reviewer who comments on hers and Law's lack of chemistry is so right) and I for one got a little sick of seeing repeated shots of the top of her camera, showing she ONLY HAS TWO SHOTS LEFT, both of which she wastes subsequently in the movie, one uncomically, one quite funny, although I saw it coming from 70 years away. No one except Law and Paltrow have any significant time on screen, and that's the movie's real flaw. An audience doesn't identify with robots, they need a hero to root for, and a visible, despicable villain to hate. Without that, plus a good engaging story, all the CG in the world won't help.
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Fascinating Visuals in CGI Homage to Classic Serial Cinema
gftbiloxi29 March 2005
Computer generated special effects have been around for quite some time now, and often questionably so, but they come into their own with Kerry Conran's SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW--an innovative film that failed in theatrical release but which now makes a big splash in the home market. And whether you love it or hate it, SKY CAPTAIN is likely to cast a very long shadow indeed.

As a concept, the film seems to be based on the popular serials of the 1930s and 1940s. This is not limited to the use of an improbable plot fueled by special effects and cliffhanger action sequences, but it extends to the dialogue and characters as well, all of which are typical of such celebrated serials as BUCK ROGERS, CAPTAIN MARVEL, SPY SMASHER, and THE CRIMSON GHOST. The film also draws specific plot elements from such diverse sources as KING KONG, LOST HORIZON, THE WIZARD OF OZ, and WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, to name but a few.

The story is typical of serials. "Girl Reporter" Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is doing a story on missing scientists--and when giant metal robots attack New York she unexpectedly holds a clue to their origin. She and Sky Captain (Jude Law) form an uneasy alliance to get to the bottom of things. With an assist from Sky Captain's faithful sidekick Dex (Giovanni Ribisi) and the disconcertingly military Frankie (Angelina Jolie), the two search the world--and finally track the wicked Dr. Totenkopf (Laurence Olivier, resurrected via CGI) to his secret lair.

The look of the film follows suit. The live cast worked on a blue screen set, and with the exception of a single set, the costumes, and items the live actors had to handle, everything you see on the screen was created in the computer and added after the fact. A great many people have described the look of the film as "deco," an arts movement associated with the 1920s; this is misleading. It would be more accurate to describe it as a mixture of pre-WWII arts movements filtered through a 1950s sensibility, and the result is like nothing so much as a pulp science fiction magazine cover unexpectedly come to life.

Now, how much you like this will depend to a great extent on how clearly you recognize the film styles and specific films that have clearly influenced it. If you know nothing about serials, for example, you are likely to be appalled by the flatness of the script and Paltrow's one-note performance; on the other hand, if you are a serial fan, you'll immediately recognize that the script is reflective of such serials as SPY SMASHER and that Paltrow echoes Linda Sterling, famous for such serials as THE CRIMSON GHOST. It wouldn't be too much to say that in many respects SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is akin to an inside joke.

But most particularly, your liking for this film will depend on how you react to the visuals. I am not a great fan of CGI when it is used to bolster live action films such as GLADIATOR or TITANIC; I can usually spot the CGI and I find it distracting. But I have to come down in favor of SKY CAPTAIN: this isn't an effort to "make it look real;" this is an effort to make a totally artificial world, and whether it be giant robots, Shangri-La, or Radio City Music Hall the designs are stunning and remarkably well executed. Whatever other shortcomings it may have, SKY CAPTAIN has incredible visual "WOW!" The film is currently available in a DVD release that is visually handsome with superior sound, and the package contains a fair number of bonuses. Unfortunately, the two commentary tracks are less interesting than you might expect, but two short documentaries ("Brave New World" and "The Art of the World of Tomorrow") are quite good--and the original six minute short that inspired the film is fascinating. Not every one will get it, so I recommend you rent before you buy, but on the whole this is a show truly worth the money. Recommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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A truly unique film experience
canadasbest19 September 2004
You won't find many movies with the look of 'Sky Captain', the film has a style that is all its own.

Apparently set in the 1930s yet featuring technology most of us associate with a time in the 2030s, 'Sky Captain' does a good job of blending the old generation with the new. I really did like the glossy look of the visuals.

The story is not overly deep and I would have loved to see some more backstory development for some of the main players, but for what it is,the plot is easy enough to follow along too.

Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow have great chemistry together here and I'm glad things between them stayed constant through the film. I could write more here, but I won't spoil the ending for those who haven't seen it.

Despite the fact I enjoyed "Sky Captain", I am still thankful these films are the exception rather than the rule. I still prefer films with real (or at least partially real) sets and shooting locations. I've read comments here about the quality of the acting in this film and that's a pitfall for so-called "Blue screen films". Even a great actor has a challenge when standing against a blue screen and pretending to respond meaningfully to something that's not really there. The acting here isn't down right corny, but I believe if the key players had more real surroundings to play off of, the performances would have improved. I also think Angelina Jolie's "Frankie" character deserved more screen time.

'Sky Captain' is an interesting experiment and certainly a movie that will hold your attention for 90 or so minutes (the movie is pretty short in comparison to other blockbusters).

So, if you're curious, check it out, you likely will get something enjoyable out of it.
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Visuals And Audio Are Incredble; Story Is So-So
ccthemovieman-14 November 2005
Wow, what an amazing visual film. Being someone who loves cinematography and artwork in general, I acquired this film quickly after hearing about it. I wasn't disappointed, except for the story which was just so-so.

Almost the whole film is computerized and almost has a painting-like look to it. In fact, many scenes look as if Edward Hopper had painted them. Yet, it is a live-action movie with real actors whose faces aren't altered, except for Gywneth Paltrow's hair which is made more blondish and shimmering.

Story-wise, it's nothing special, just a corny old-time serial story about someone using high-tech robots and spaceships to take over the planet. The time period, however, is pre-World War II so to see this futuristic type of robot is a bit of a stretch. Nonetheless, it's a strictly old-fashioned sci-fi story with little profanity and, except for the robots, a great retro look.

Going back to that "look," this film is still very worthy of viewing because it's absolutely stunning to see. There truly is nothing quite like it. I'm sorry it didn't do well at the box office because that won't encourage others to make more of these visually-inventive kind of films. This must look beyond incredible on an expensive plasma TV set!

Also notable is the sound. The better the sound system you have, the more you will be blown away with the audio here. It's as good as the visuals. If only the story was as good!
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Visually stunning and clever
FilmOtaku21 September 2004
I'll be the first to admit it. I went into 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow' with a lot of trepidation and even loathing. I didn't like the direction that cinema was taking with this film, featuring a backdrop that was mostly digital, because being a film purist, I used to relish the feel of actual celluloid in my hands, so this 'fake' creation was disturbing. I am still wary of this possible trend, but after seeing 'Sky Captain', I found that art can be realized in this medium.

'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow' not only boasts one of the longest film titles in recent months, but a great cast: Jude Law as Joe 'Sky Captain' Sullivan, our hero, Gwyneth Paltrow as Polly Perkins, our intrepid reporter and Sullivan's former flame and Angelina Jolie as Capt. Franky Cook, a friend and ally of Joe's. There is an evil element threatening the Earth, and it is up to Joe and Polly to find out who is behind the threat, before Earth is destroyed.

One line is all it really takes to sum up the story, which is generally all it took to summarize the films 'Sky Captain' pays homage to. The story is good, and it certainly boasts one of the most entertaining endings that I can remember in recent years, but it is the presentation that is the biggest draw with 'Sky Captain'. The overall style is 1930's Art Deco mixed with bits of Neo-Futurism. The robots in the first half hour of the film look like something out of comic book, the clothes and character styles are most certainly inspired by the 1930's, and the backdrops and locations are very Deco. It's obvious that one of the advantages in producing a film in this manner is that the filmmaker can be as elaborate in design as possible, because the 'set design' was very rich and exciting.

As a lover of classic film, I found the numerous nods to the films of the 30's very refreshing. Several scenes or lines could have been construed as corny, but I found them to be presented with a giant wink at the audience. Because all of these aforementioned elements were done so well, this film was a huge success in my opinion. And despite my concerns (which are still prevalent in my mind) I can sincerely rave about and recommend 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow' to just about anyone who appreciates both art and good entertainment.

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This film is incredible
funkyfry4 November 2004
I read through some of the other comments on here... I can't imagine who went to this movie expecting it to be full of philosophy or deep thinking, it's just a fun thrill ride type of movie and it is one of the best of those types of films to appear in decades. I knew the film would be cool looking because I caught a few minutes of it at a drive-in, but when I watched the whole movie it really blew me away as a well-conceived well-executed whole. I liked the characters, I didn't think they were "realistic" but they were fun in the old-school movie kind of way. It reminded me somewhat of a Howard Hawks film, actually. I like the love triangle here and wish it had been developed more. The visuals are just amazing. This movie is in every way better than the new Star Wars movies.... it has the great futuristic dogfights that were so great in the first 3 SW movies but are missing in the new films, and its effects are better thought out and better done than "Attack of the Clones".

Everybody who likes science fiction or just who likes good old-fashioned movies should see this film. It is suitable for kids and for adults. Very good photography and direction, I think this one will be appreciated by film fans looking to the new fronteirs of filming also. This film gave me some hope, at long last, that Hollywood will not become a wasteland of effects without good story, so I am indeed surprised that many posters here consider it to be just that. To me, this film is a gem.
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Just couldn't watch it
allang-217 September 2004
I like the time period, I like the attempt, but watching a movie that looks like I'm looking at it through a coke bottle gives me a headache. If I played computer games that were this blurry and out of focus, I would upgrade my computer. Could be that this was the look the director was after, but not so it hurts the eyes and you want to leave after 10 minutes. If I hadn't taken someone with me to this film, I was out of there. Even though it was a series and not a movie per say, Band of Brothers accomplished this. They made it look like WWII footage, with just a touch of graininess, but it was still a pleasure to watch. Movies need real people, with real sets, and real locations; Use CGI when it is appropriate, not for an entire film.
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Looks great and is a fun homage to the period but what it has in effects & design it lacks in script, characters, plot and humour
bob the moo10 October 2004
In a 1940's of the future, scientists are mysteriously going missing and only plucky journalist Polly Perkins has a lead. Meeting with a scientist in a secret rendezvous, mere minutes before he disappears, she is horrified by the sudden appearance in New York of a horde of giant robots. Luckily Sky Captain Joe Sullivan comes to the rescue in his customised Spitfire and prevents the robots robbing the city's central generators. With further attacks around the globe, Sky Captain and his group team up with Polly to track down the source of the robot menace, uncover the plot involved and stop it before it is too late.

All the interviews around this film have talked up the visuals and the possibilities of making movies entirely on blue screen etc and, to be honest, the marketing behind the film reflects it really well because it is all about the visual style and effects with very little else. The film starts immediately with a really great visual feel that harks back to the old sci-fi serials of the 1930/40's where the future is based on the present with knobs on. The lighting and delivery is all fitting this period and it works pretty well on this level. The scale and nature of the effects are impressive, they are all retro and look great and only occasionally is it obvious that the actors are staring at things that aren't there. Of course after this we have problems, because looks enough aren't quite enough to make it all work. The period feel will make it a cult film with time but at the moment it is not enough to just sell me a computer generated yarn with no substance to it.

I suppose in a way the writing and delivery is all in keeping with the genre that it is homaging but this is a thin excuse for material that is slightly dull and lacks the twinkle and wit it really needed. Wooden acting and clunky dialogue can be fun if served up with the tongue in the cheek but that never really happens here to the degree it should. Thinks looked good at the start with Godzilla making an appearance on a Japanese newspaper but aside from this and a handful of other comic touches the film is played pretty straight – meaning we feel we should treat it so, something I found too hard to do. The dialogue is fun at times but is mostly as stiff as much of the delivery. The cast are not to blame because they are remote from the action, secondary to the visuals and trying to match the acting of the genre, which is traditionally wooden. I'm not totally sure that bringing back Olivier was a good idea but it was such a small part of the film that it didn't really matter and left me wondering why they bothered in the first place.

Law is boyishly handsome and works pretty well with the material, looking very British in his beautiful Spitfire. He has fun with his character and he at least seems to be in on the joke. Paltrow has some comic moments but mainly she plays it pretty straight and is a little dull. Ribisi is all at sea, he plays it straight and looks bad as a result. Jolie is a nice addition but has little time to make an impression – she never has a character and is really nothing more than a set of lips! Support from Gambon and Ling Bai is wasted and neither makes an impression – especially disappointing from Ling who is really the main baddie for the majority of the film. None of them are good enough to make the plot engaging or bring out characters in their genre clichés but they try their best and at least fit into the period quite well.

Overall this is eye candy but it is candy that will develop a cult following based on how well it captures those old serials and the scale of the visual designs and effects. Many viewers will lament that Conran didn't move away from his computer for longer and put more heart and wit into the script because this has little or no substance to it and, when backdrops are not stunning and robots are not stomping it can get dull (and does). Worth seeing for the effects and the visuals, this is a very expensive sci-fi serial that is fun but sadly lacks any substances, characters or real humour.
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You Can't Always Go Back
coloradokatchoo3 November 2004
While my peers were racing to the movies to see such films as Pretty in Pink and Say Anything I couldn't wait to visit my grandparents' farm in southeastern Colorado. In my grandmother's antique cabinet in their 'playroom' were literally hundreds of tapes; movies staring the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, and dozens of cliffhangers such as Mystery Squadron and The Adventures of Red Ryder . My love of serials is one of the few things I remember sharing with my father.

So when I was sitting in the theater and the first preview for Shy Captain and the World of Tomorrow came on I was transported back to the safety of my grandparents' home and the love I felt while watching old cliffhangers with my dad.

I was instantly in love with the movie, the beautiful quality of every frame that made the movie appear to be one beautifully illustrated comic book and, of course, the similarity to the campy sci-fi movies of the 1930's. I went home and immediately looked the movie up on the internet.

I was stunned to find out that this was the first film Kerry Conran had directed or written, and that Sky Captain was originally a six minute reel that producer Jon Avnet saw and wanted to turn into a feature length film. The movie itself was first storyboard with crude animation so that the actors would understand what was happening in their scenes since the entire film was shot in front of blue screen. Because there were no actual locations filming only took 26 days instead of an estimated 6 months.

When the movie opened on the 17th of September I was there for one the first showings. The theater was all but empty, only about twelve other people were there, all men, all in their thirties and all alone. I was truly shocked at the small turn out, what about this film had turned off so many movie goers?

The movie began and I felt like a little kid falling in love with movies for the first time all over again. The shuttle references to classic sci-fi movies of the 1920's, 30's and 40's littered the screen. References to King Kong, Forbidden Planet, and the comic book Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. were everywhere you looked. At one point Polly Perkins the feisty reporter played by Gwyneth Paltrow is talking to her editor on the phone saying, 'They're reached Sixth Ave… Fifth Ave…. they're a hundred yards away', a direct quote from Orson Welle's radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Even Star Wars was referenced when Joe 'Sky Captain' Sullivan played by Jude Law is instructed to land on the air carrier's pad 327, the same number the Millennium Falcon lands on in Cloud City. By far the greatest reference to past greatness is the appearance Sir Laurence Olivier, who died in 1989, as the villain Dr. Totenkopf, using CGI and archival footage Conran brings back to life one of our greatest actors.

I was in movie geek heaven, for about the first hour, and then my attention started to wonder. In a society of attention deficit the constant motion and flying from one scene to another and the quick, panicked, pace of this movie should have fit in, however I felt teased, as if I was only watching part of a movie, the part that would never have a conclusion. We receive through the dialogue what little character development the movie has to offer, which isn't much, and in the end no one grows, or changes, or even becomes deeper than a character in a commercial.

Looking back at the old serials I realize that the characters remained the same generic, two dimensional characters they were at the beginning, but the lack of development goes unnoticed in an action film less than twenty minutes long. Today the only programs we watch that are less than twenty minutes are situational comedies that parade a host of cardboard characters through redundant stories lines. A two hour long episode is too much, perhaps Kerry Conran should have stuck more closely to the serial format and released the movie in smaller segments, maybe then I would have remained entertained and in love with his homage to old cinema. We are a country that seems to forever be moving forward with little room to go back and even though we sometimes get nostalgic for a simpler film, or movie hero, it's not always possible to pull off with today's intellectual needs.
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Sky Captain is a Lifeless and Dull Indiana Jones
JeremyHowe17118 September 2004
In a word, this film was boring. It lacked life and spark. A big problem is with the two leads. Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow had no chemistry whatsoever. He was boring, and she was annoying.

The visuals were interesting, but they didn't enhance the scenes. If anything, the visuals tended to detach the audience from what was happening on screen. None of the action sequences felt real, and hence, the film failed to create any real drama or a sense of danger.

The film had potential, but it needed a better script, better acting, and a better director. I kept thinking during the film, you know, this movie would've worked if Harrison Ford was Sky Captain, Karen Allen was Polly, and Steven Spielberg was the director.

Ignore the critical acclaims for this film. The critics I think are praising the film because they *want* to like it and want it to succeed even though it fails on so many different levels.
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Souless, Cliché, Dull
james_bickert17 September 2004
Visually interesting, but falls flat in the originality department. This tedious excercise in technique wears thin after the opening battle. Jude Law has the charisma of burnt toast, but in his defense this film contains some of the worst dialogue I have ever seen on the big screen. In fact the script is so poor that it keeps taking you out of the film, and had me thinking about work, bills, my dogs, etc. There are many moments that scream bluescreen. Paltrow is as wooden as they get. This could of been saved by snappy film noir dialogue or over the top camp. My only complaint on the technique is that Black & White film (sorry, computer) would of helped because it looks like Turner colorized black and white. Just a big dull cliché mess. I would rather break my femur than sit through this endurance test again.
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Soooo many holes...
messin1810 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie feels so EMPTY. IN every scene in the movie the maximum number of actors on the screen is like 10. Because everything was shot in front of a blue screen there are never really any extras and the movie just feels weird.

The ACTING was HORRIBLE! It's so obvious this was in front of a blue screen because all of the action scenes you can see the actor/actress wondering around half running when they should be running for their lives.. Looking at the floor for their marks...

Spoilers: Also you'll find yourself banging your head watching the movie. At one point at Sky Captain's home base they have like 100 planes sitting on the airstrip. They have advanced warning an attack is coming... So what do they do? nothing. All of the planes get blown up and yet again the ONLY person fighting back is the Sky Captain...

THE ENTIRE world is under attack and he's the ONLY person ever fighting back. At the very end of the movie you see hundreds of plains taking off finally... but what do they do? Nothing... the movie is over...
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A bloody sacrifice to the Deus ex machina; suitable only for small boys
PenOutOfTime11 February 2007
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow sets out to be pioneering, sets out to be clever, and sets out to gain cult status through references to the past. Instead, we have an early stinker of a predecessor to what will no doubt be many, many, CGI films in the future.

One does not expect a film of this sort to be realistic, but the 'face' of this film, as it were, is so contorted into one vast ironic wink, that no other tone is at all apparent. There is zero suspension of disbelief at any point in this film; NONE! Indeed the much mentioned "sepia" tone and fuzzy image, designed to evoke the 1930's, are but the final straw in giving the film not so much the charm of a comic book, but rather a (bad) comic book's pervasive air of insincerity and unreality. While technically striking, the film is not quite visually striking, being simply too phony to matter. I suspect that this film was aiming for the sort of insincere fun found in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, but unlike the "Pirates" franchise, the acting, humor, and dialog are all played down, rather than played up, and the plot is, amazingly, utterly and notably inferior.

While many people have criticized the dialog and acting, in fact, I think that both are somewhat cleverly done, but both are also so shriekingly at odds with the supposed action on screen, that one is reminded of a janitor sweeping in front of a movie screen while a film is running; a veritable exercise in DE-integrating live action and CGI.

I think (or at least hope) that this film marks something of a milestone in Hollywood as the final gasp of pure special effects awe over special effects artistry, and film craft. While intended to be sophisticated and ironic, the filmmakers are mired in a mentality that upholds pointless but technically difficult spectacle over all. The next generation of filmgoers in particular will be accustomed to high end special effects and are not going to be awed by special effects that are not supportive of story, nor truly interesting in themselves. While past films could shock simply because they COULD show a given scene, just like a novelist, future filmmakers will need to present a scene skillfully, and present scenes that support a story. Almost nothing in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is well presented, and unfortunately, the film is suitable only for small boys.
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Awfully boring and boringly awful
BruceMc19 September 2004
"Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (an amazingly incovenient title) is simply a bad movie; it has no heart, no deep ideas, nothing very special about it. Yes, the CGI backgrounds look interesting, but the result is that the whole thing is shot in an annoying soft focus. Additionally, the movie uses music the same way as, say, "Gilligan's Island" or the Scooby-Doo cartoons-- IT NEVER STOPS. Terribly, simply terrible. There are no fresh ideas, either, just gobs and gobs and gobs and... etc., of bits taken from older movies and serials. There is no gatekeeper here, the movie just seems to exist because it can. Save your money and your time. Not entertaining at all.
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Nice little action romp, short of plot but heavy on effects and adventure
filmbuff-362 December 2004
As computer graphics are becoming more and more a part of movies, it only makes sense that eventually a film would come along that is completely computer animated with humans just inserted into the footage.

That's the feel of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," a strange but fun fantasy/action movie inspired by the likes of classic sci-fi comics like "Buck Rogers" and "Flash Gordan." The characters are essentially live-action people walking in front of green screen images, but it does all mesh together nicely, if not too nicely.

The year is 1939, and several famous German scientists have wound up missing. When plucky New York reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is contacted by a scientist who fears that he's next, she discovers a diabolical plot by a mad scientist named Dr. Totenkopf (Laurence Olivier, thanks to some digital trickery).

Totenkopf has unleashed an army of massive robots on the world, and the call soon goes out to Joe "Sky Captain" Sullivan (Jude Law), a well-known hero-for-hire fighter pilot, to come to the rescue. Fate soon brings Perkins and Sullivan together again, having once been an item but now bitter over a past incident that left Sullivan in a Japanese prison camp.

They soon discover that Totenkopf is using his machines to raid the world's power supplies, but to what end they don't know. Skeptical at first, Sullivan soon changes his tune when the robots raid his base and make off with his chief mechanic and friend Dex Dearborn (Giovanni Ribisi). Committed to the task of stopping the scientist and rescuing his friend, Sullivan goes after Totenkopf with Perkins in tow, smelling a story exclusive that's too big to pass up.

"Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" is a nice throwback to the old adventure serials of the 1940s, and the look and feel is certainly inspired by the Max Fleischer "Superman" cartoons of that era, particularly the 1941 short "Mechanical Monsters" whose title robots bear a striking resemblance to the ones in this film.

First time director Kevin Conran, also the screenwriter, clearly has respect for the source material of the era, and the movie certainly has a unique atmosphere to it. However, the problem is the visuals and production design command so much attention that the characters come off as ancillary at best.

As the "Sky Captain," Law gives a laid-back performance, not really in keeping with a world famous adventurer. He's certainly charming and handles the action scenes well, but he lacks the ambition necessary for the role.

As Perkins, Paltrow seems to be invoking the spirit of Superman's Lois Lane mixed with Underdog's Sweet Polly Purebred, and as such succeeds at being a nosy reporter who often get in trouble. But Paltrow never really brings Perkins to life, and she recklessly endangers countless numbers of lives and is never even berated for her actions.

Ribisi and Jolie both fair well though their characters just exist to advance the plot. It is Olivier's presence here that is the real eye opener. More than 2 decades after his death, the legendary actor is recreated for the movie in two scenes. It's a little disturbing to this critic however, sort of the digital equivalent of grave robbery. Along with the current plans to digitally insert the late George Burns into a new film as well, I don't think I agree with this usage of the technology.

Despite their shortcomings, the actors do give a nice try, but they're powerless against the scope of the film. "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" is a cornucopia of technical wizardry that's fun to watch and then instantly forget. If the plot had been tooled around with a bit more, it might have become something more classic like "Raiders of the Lost Ark." However, what we have here is a wonderfully conceived artificial world with no humans to inhabit it.

7 out of 10 stars. It's a fun little popcorn movie and a throwback to the serials of yesteryear, but it just can't come together as anything more than a series of interesting set pieces.
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Big disappointment
Pleasehelpmejesus8 November 2005
"Sky Captain" may be considered an homage to comic books, pulp adventures and movie serials but it contains little of the magic of some of the best from those genres. One contributor says that enjoyment of the film depends on whether or not one recognizes the films influences. I don't think this is at all true. One's expectations of the films,fiction and serials that "Captain" pays tribute to were entirely different. Especially so for those who experienced those entertainments when they were children. This film is almost completely devoid of the charm and magnetic attraction of those. Of course we know the leads will get into and out of scrapes but there has to be some tension and drama. Toward the climax of "Captain" Law and Paltrow have ten minutes to prevent catastrophe and by the time they get down to five minutes they are walking not running toward their goal. They take time out for long looks and unnecessary conversation and the contemplation of a fallen foe with 30 seconds left to tragedy. Of course one expects certain conventions to be included but a good director would have kept up some sense of urgency.

One doesn't expect films like this to necessarily "make sense". One does expect them to be fun, thrilling and to have some sense of interior logic. "Captain" has almost none. Remember when Law and Paltrow are being pursued by the winged creatures and they reach a huge chasm which they cross via a log bridge? Well how come they are perfectly safe from those creatures when they reach the other side? They can FLY!!! The chasm itself means nothing to them. The bridge is unnecessary for them so where is the escape? If the land across the chasm is 'forbidden' to the flying creatures the film made no effort to let us know how or why or even if.

I know that Paltrow and Law (both of whom have given fine performances in the past) were playing "types" but both were pretty flat. Only Giovanni Ribisi (who showed himself capable of great nuance here) and Angelina Jolie seemed to give any "oomph" to their roles although Omid Djalili seemed like he could have handled a little more if he'd only been given the chance. He did a pretty good job anyway considering how he was basically wasted.

The film had a great 'look' but there are so many ways in which CGI distracts. CGI works best when it is used for the fantastical, when it is used to create creatures who don't exist in nature or for scientific or magical spectacular. When it is used to substitute for natural locations it disappoints. There is no real sense of wonder. A CGI mountain doesn't have any of the stateliness or sense of awe and foreboding that a real mountain does. I know that the design of this film was quite deliberate and it wasn't necessarily supposed to LOOK real but shouldn't it FEEL that way? It just didn't.

As for the weak and clichéd script...homage is no excuse. Even so, had the movie had some thrills and dramatic tension it might still have been enjoyable. "The Last Samurai" was as predictable as the days of the week and I am no fan of Tom Cruise but it had everything that "Captain" didn't most notably it drew the viewer into its world and made us accept its rules and way of being in a way that "Sky Captain" most definitely did not.

I'd like to see a similar approach taken for films about comic book heroes of the 30's and 40's. The original (Jay Garrick) Flash or Green Lantern (Alan Scott) come to mind as being ripe for such treatment. Maybe the better, more well known and fully realized characters that those character are would make for a much better film. It would be hard to be worse.
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A One-of-a-Kind Entertainment Experience
mike4812810 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
One of my favorite guilty film pleasures. It's a 1940's comic strip brought-to-life by a producer with very little success, other than this film. Shot entirely inside of a green-screen computer environment, no real sets to speak of. (Just platforms and such.) Yet, it travels all over the world, and quite convincingly, I might add. Staring Jude Law (Sky Capt.) Gweneth Paltrow (Polly-The Reporter) and Angelina Jolie ("Frankie"). She is truly amazing, although she appears late in the movie. She plays a one-eyed British Commander. A super-woman who oversees a flying armada-in-the sky. Oh yes, she flies like a "Flash Gordon rocketeer". (She commands combat planes, battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines, and special forces.) As the Muppets once quipped, they "travel by map" and end up in Tibet and Shanghai-La. It plays homage to every great sci-fi film you have ever seen, as well as the 1940's Superman Max Fleischer cartoons. There are giant robots, mechanical monsters, The Hindenburg, images of Fritz Langs' masterpiece "Metropolis". It might even remind you of "King Kong". Laurence Olivier appears like a projected image from "The Wizard of Oz". He is a now-deceased genius behind a plot to save all the animals yet destroy the planet Earth. Some critics pointed out the many "goofs" but I believe some of it was intentionally tongue in-cheek, at times. Roger Ebert gave it four stars and Leonard Maltin hated it. As much a thrill-ride as any of the "Indiana Jones" or "Star Wars" outings. I wish it had been more successful in its time. (2004) My only regret is that I never got to see it on a large screen. Also on Blu-Ray.
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Kerry Conran was overlooked, brilliant 1-of-a-kind
A_Different_Drummer2 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Let's be clear -- Hollywood, the critics, even the viewers are not known for being overly kind to filmmakers who want to try something different. Teen comedy about a group of kids looking for weed and girls? Instant hit. Martial artist seeking revenge? Guaranteed cable sale. But here we have an artist so enchanted with the serials of the 1920s 1930s and 1940s that he in effect did an "homage" to them, with an excellent script and A-List actors (Paltrow, Law, Jolie - WOW!). But the real deal was the CGI. It was breath-taking. (And still is, if you watch this on DVD or stream it from the ionosphere). I remember the mandatory interviews that Paltrow (as a lead actress) "had" to give at the time. She kept insisting over and over that the actors had to do their parts "blind" because the CGI was added later. The interviews sounded more like a union grievance than an accolade. But that is beauty of the filmic art. The final product will be available for viewers of the future regardless of how the actors and public treated the film on first release (maybe it should have been called SKY CAPTAIN AND THE VIEWERS OF TOMORROW?). A one of a kind gem and highly recommended.
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Unbelievably Wild
LeonLouisRicci28 May 2013
Either you decide to hop aboard this great Experimental ride of a Movie or you don't. it is stylistically an Animation, a visual trip to another World, another Place, another Time. It is a Comic Book/ Pulp Magazine/Serial come to life in the form of a Modernization with Computer Techniques, Graphic Art, and Live Actors. An amalgamation of Super-Hero/Sci-Fi/Adventure from days gone by.

It is wild and it is fascinating. The entire Movie is an homage, and at times, a direct copy of those Entertainment Art Forms that flourished in Art Deco times. There are tributes to Max Fleischer, and King Kong. In fact the spotlight shines on an extensive variety of the Great Entertainments of past and listing them may spoil some of the Fun.

Fun is what this is all about. It turns in an ambitious attempt that is stunning and attractive. To say that this is unique would not be enough. A completely engaging, straightforward Story for all ages. This is compelling Movie Making at its most Spirited. This can be billed with the beautiful, equally audacious Dick Tracy (1990) for a wonderful Double Feature. In addition, a Newsreel, Cliffhanger, Comedy Short, and Color Cartoon should be included.
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This movie sucks
warrenf_peace29 March 2006
What a waste of time! I've tried to sit through 'Sky Captain.." about 6 times, and every time, within about 3 minutes, I start doing something else - anything else! It's a downright boring movie, the acting is terrible, the writing dull, and obviously a first-time director, because it's stiff. And I wanted to love it. I love sci-fi, the old cliffhangers, and I can appreciate the attempt at nods to Flash Gordon, and Metropolis, but my God, what a waste of money. I used to work for Paramount Pictures, and I had written Sherry Lansing in 1993 about using blue screen for screen tests. She told me they'd never have an interest or need to do it. 10 years later, Paramount releases this piece of crap. Sherry was right in 1993, but must have forgotten her own advice when she greenlighted this dog. Blue screen an effect shot, but not an entire movie. Let's not forget, neither Jude nor Jolie are terrific actors (but easy on the eyes). Paltrow's performance reminds me of a high school effort. Too bad - it could've worked, but only under a skilled director. the funny thing is, Sky Captain's director will keep getting work, even after this dreck. It's commerce, not art!
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A landmark film in cinematography
fredericksmith195222 June 2012
Unfortunately, this film did not do well in the theaters. Which is a shame, because being an excellent film with superb graphics, it is also the forerunner of everything that has followed in Compter Generated Images (CGI).

Sky Captain was filmed entirely in blue screen. None of the sets existed except it the mind of the people doing the graphics. Which meant the actors had no frame of reference when they were performing. Oh, of course there were tape marks on the floor, but nothing to react to, nothing to walk around, nothing but a blank room with platforms where necessary to go up and down. Which means the actors had to envision the room as it might be and then respond without the aid of visual cues. Now, I don't know about you, but I would call that acting above and beyond the normal requirements. And the best part is, they all do it extremely well.

As to plot, considering the setting of the film, the plot is exactly as it should be. If this had been made in the 1950's, this film would have been a "Cliffhanger", like Commando Cody or Flash Gordon used to be, a tool to get parents to drop their kids off at the local theater for Saturday morning matinées while they did their grocery shopping or other chores. I remember doing that while my mom was off grocery shopping, and my brother and I would sit for two or three hours watching cartoons and a couple of those films.

Still, there isn't a lot of action by comparison to what we expect from films these days, and the technology in the film is 'old school', so perhaps the current generation of film goers just didn't get it. I recommend the film as a great way to spend ninety six minutes when the kiddies are looking to see what the old world used to be like. Rated PG, collectible for us Sci Fi types. Enjoy.
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Lens cap ?
TotonotinKansas24 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I can't help it, I love this movie! Absolute fun entertainment. For those who like to categorize everything; I'd call it Retro-Fantasy-Escapism-Action-Adventure with a touch of Sci-Fi. This movie perfectly captures the character of the old Saturday Matinée serials blended with comic book tone and pacing, combine Flash Gordon with Steve Canyon. Yes, it is simplistic, cheesy, campy, unrealistic, but - that's what its trying to be, give in to the fun. You know from the beginning that the good guys will triumph at the end and the world will be saved, but I purely enjoyed sitting back and watching how they got from point A to point B. What was a little surprising, in a good way, was the strength given to the female characters who are prominent factors in the action. At first I felt the CGI background and detailing was too obviously fake, but thinking of it as a live-action comic book, the underdone CGI seems perfectly suitable. No significant negatives for me, however in the flying scenes with Polly and Joe in the cockpit just cruising along and conversing, it seemed there should be some engine noise. Considering how this movie was made with all background and details added later, I feel the acting was incredible, they had no scenery to relate to in their actions. Not sure if this is exactly a spoiler; I've watched it on DVD several times, and at the end I don't see a lens cap, maybe just another instance of Joe continually bugging Polly? Or the movie maker trying to prompt saps like me into buying the DVD to go back searching for such tidbits? Well done, waiting for more!
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It's 1939 - or Is It?
carlsbadrn23 June 2006
Sky Captain and the world of Tomorrow is the kind of film I've been waiting for! Pure sci fi, in my opinion, where mechanical robots weighing many tons can fly and The Hindenburg can dock at the Empire State Building (this was actually discussed during the planning and building of the historic landmark). Many people think this film was set in some dark future while others think it was pure fantasy. In reality, for anyone who has ever read a comic book, this was set in 1939. Despite it's many errors (not the right camera, not the right plane, etc) you have to suspend all belief and let your mind go to the fantasy world of science fiction, the way it used to be. They're showing The Wizard of Oz at a theater. So is it 1939 or some distant future retrospective as some have claimed? It's winter as snow is falling on New York City, yet there is something odd about the skyline. To me this film contained all the elements of a good sci fi movie: some from Wizard of Oz, some from Things To Come, even some from King Kong. I especially liked the sound effects from the robots. Does anyone remember the Martian war machines in War of the Worlds? The cars were especially nice, vintage 1930s yet not a single one could be identified. And Bazooka chewing gum? Don't see much of that these days. The special effects were awesome and the not-quite-color look of the movie gave it extra oomph if you will. It looked old. This film could've been made in 1939, had they the technology. All in all it was a fun ride, an adventure around the globe, impossible situations, machines and even a rocket ship. Most people forget these days that there was a time that scientists believed if a rocket would leave Earth and punch a hole in the atmosphere it would start a chain reaction and incinerate the Earth! With time running out, literally at the last second, Sky Captain stops that from happening. For those of us who enjoy Ray Bradbury stories and H.G.Wells, then this is the film for you, where the impossible is not only possible, it seems logical. One of the finest sci fi movies ever made. Also, when they're showing pictures of giant machines from all around the world, if you look carefully you'll see Godzilla in Tokyo. Great shot!
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