By Nate Buchik
photo courtesy of PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Angelina Jolie stars in "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," a film set in a past where reporters were allowed to battle mad scientists and giant robots.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 16, 2004
It's certainly not your typical sci-fi adventure thriller, but "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" still feels vaguely familiar.
Joe 'Sky Captain' Sullivan (Jude Law) is the world's greatest hero. His elite team of fighter pilots keeps the peace in an alternate 1939, full of enormous robots, helpless police and hotshot reporters.
One of these hotshots (she writes and takes photos!) is Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow), Joe's old flame AND conveniently working on the biggest story in the world, which involves scientists disappearing and robots stealing energy sources from all around the globe.
Who will get to the bottom of this?
Joe and Polly, of course, who have that love/hate relationship that's usually reserved for Harrison Ford and his female co-star.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
7 out of 10
The two venture out of New York City to find Dr. Totenkopf (Laurence Olivier), who is trying to destroy the world for an unknown reason. (Perhaps he's an evil genius, and that's just what they enjoy.)
Throughout the journey, Joe's got to pick up clues and shoot a lot of stuff with his plane. It's a little bit Bond, a little bit "Carmen San Diego," and a lot like a video game called "Crimson Skies."
This makes for a fairly exciting film, as it was particularly easy to step into the role of the Sky Captain, although I could have used an XBOX controller to really get into the mood.
Aesthetics, however, are where most of the film's originality was spent. Filmed with what looks like old-school Technicolor with dark shadows and bright pools of light, the movie is a throwback in some sense. This is as close to noir as a mainstream movie has gotten since 2001's "The Man Who Wasn't There."
But this is where the throwback stops.
What I haven't told you is that "Sky Captain" has a unique gimmick. You see, the actors only performed in front of a blue screen. The only "real" objects are the things they touch in the foreground. No sets were built, nor locations changed. Computers took care of everything, creating glorious backdrops in NYC, underwater and around the world.
I suppose I shouldn't call it a gimmick, because it wasn't cheesy and it's not that obvious. You could easily sit through the entire film and not know. Well, not anymore, because I told you. But before, you could have. Sorry.
I knew, so I kept watching and wondering how they were creating the images, and forgot to let myself go.
And really, it should have been easy to watch the actors. With Law, Paltrow, Giovanni Ribisi and Angelina Jolie, writer/director Kerry Conran has the most attractive case ever assembled working for him.
Jolie's British eye-patch-wearing Captain was the only character who really grabbed me, although Ribisi gives a solid performance as that nerdy guy with great inventing skills. (Think Gyro Gearloose from "DuckTales.")
Paltrow had the biggest problem competing with the glorious images behind her, but whether you hone in on the actors or the computer generated backdrops, you'll always have something nice to look at.