Review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

We’ve waited an extra few months of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow thinking the worst about the film. After all, with such beautiful looking special effects, and a movie driven by them in all aspects, a delay of this scope could either be a blessing or a curse. In fact, it might have been a little bit of both, if you go by Paramount’s reasoning for delaying the film until September (from the original July release date). For one, you escape from Spider-Man’s shadow and are able to open up in a, nearly, clear field of films. Although, opening in the notoriously slow September month doesn’t guarantee big numbers, especially for such a costly picture. But what really matters is the film itself, and it was an enjoyable time, marred by some problems, but still very enjoyable.

The story focuses on Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) a boundless reporter investigating the disappearance of some of the world’s top scientists. When she gets a clue to the whereabouts of the last remaining man, she soon discovers that it may be too late. Huge, mechanical robots infiltrate New York City causing general havoc and providing some amazing images you wouldn’t think of ever seeing on screen again. After nearly getting herself killed, she calls upon the help of Joe “Sky Captain” Sullivan (Jude Law) to help her get to the bottom of her biggest story. Along the way they run into the still-hot-with-an-eye-patch Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie) who commands a flying fortress and aqua-enabled jets.

If there has ever been a film built completely on eye candy, and eye candy alone, this is certainly it. From the very beginning you are overwhelmed with the style of the fantastic looking special effects. They don’t look real, and they aren’t intended to, but what they do look like is an amazing throwback to the 1940’s sci-fi serials that had wondrous visions of the future. From mechanical robots to un-earthly creatures, your eyes are the most important part of your body during this film. The technology used by the characters in the film is certainly science fiction, even today, but there is something about seeing a fighter jet retract its propeller in mid-flight, and submerge below the ocean to do battle with giant robots. How many films give you that experience?

Although, with the all special effects you certainly get felling that they may have let some of the writers go as Sky Captain brings in some cringe worthy lines, and even manages to make some Hollywood’s power players almost unwatchable at times. Sitting with most of the Entopia staff through the film I could see Senior Editor entopia_john flinching at nearly every line Gwyneth Paltrow delivered. At times I thought it was funny, but the more I listened to the lines and forgot about the pleasing special effects, I heard what he was hearing. The dialog isn’t all that good, and it only servers to bring upon the next scene, and the next problem for our heroes to deal with. You have to wonder if they went back in at the last minute and decided to actually write a script for the film, or just release a bunch of cool looking clips with the actors just staring at the camera.

Shot in front of a blue screen, the actors do a very good job of interacting with their “environment.” Its one thing to act, but to act without any props or visual cues from a background has to be much, much harder. The highlight of the bunch is Jolie’s Franky who is underused in the film, but it gets her out of starring in a serious of commercial and critical duds that have plagued actors and consumers alike this year.

In the end, genre fans will be all too pleased by the visual effects and style of the film, but serious movie-goers will find much to fault in the 2D story and poorly done script. If only they had taken the time to flesh out the characters a bit more and the story in general we could be looking at one of the best movies of the year. As it stands now, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a visual effects achievement that is able to bring a smile to even the most jaded sci-fi fan’s face, but only those needing some visual assurance of its dominance need apply.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!