Visually, this one’s just pure joy–a revisionist throwback to ’30s Buck Rogers-style adventure serials. I think Sky Captain tanked at the box office because it may have been too obscure in its source material for younger audiences to relate to — too demanding of the mall rats not used to its old timey cultural references. At heart, this is a classic quest story about the titular aviator-hero who, along with his sidekick, Polly Perkins — your standard go-getter reporter — go on the hunt for a German doomsday scientist who’s been building and deploying giant robots to wreak havoc around the world. The method to this scientist’s madness boils down to a spectacular finale in which his “World of Tomorrow”–a kind of intergalactic Noah’s Ark–takes to space with the aim of destroying the Earth in its wake.
The cast is fun: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Polly Perkins is pitch-perfect in the manner of all these intrepid comic book heroines; Angelina Jolie as Sky Captain’s sultry, eyepatch-wearing “Girl Friday” is delicious. Jude Law is smooth enough as Sky Captain though his aviator is no Indiana Jones. Law’s slick-haired Sky Captain is closer to Stephen Collin’s leather-jacketed, cigar-chomping flyboy from TV’s Tales of the Gold Monkey from the mid-80s.
The script’s character development is weak with Conran’s creations lacking edge and depth. This explains why the film leaves precious little residue in one’s mind when it’s over. But the visuals are phenomenal, rendered with so much love and passion that each frame is a marvel just to behold. Beautifully shot and edited and with production design that I can’t gush enough about–delivering on all levels, going from H.G. Wells to old cliffhanger serials (a la Raiders of the Lost Ark) and King Kong/Mysterious Island territory. It’s a hell of a package–I only wish it had been tied up with stronger character-driven themes and that Law and Paltrow had more combustible chemistry. Yet, this World is wonderful just the same.
Directed by: Kerry Conran
Written by: Kerry Conran
Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Gambon