Movie Review
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sky Captain poster
By Craig Younkin     Published September 18, 2004
US Release: September 17, 2004

Directed by: Kerry Conran
Starring: Jude Law , Gwyneth Paltrow , Giovanni Ribisi , Ling Bai

Running Time: 107 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $37,760,000
The plotting never develops past the point of trying to find this mysterious Totenkopf and so it just feels bland and overly familiar.
When "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" came out ten years ago, it blew me away; combining humans with animated characters was one of the coolest things I?d ever seen. Now look at how far technology in film has come: Hollywood has created three-dimensional animation, flawless looking robots (in A.I and I, Robot, in particular), and now with the release of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, exquisite looking computer designed scenery.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, "Sky Captain" is the first film to be entirely filmed in front of a blue screen. The set, which looks like the 1930's-40's New York combined with a heavy white light, will likely remind older people of films that only used to cost five cents; but for the rest of us it is still a bit of picturesque beauty well worth looking at. And that seems to be part of the problem with it.

When thinking of how many directors use the technology to enhance the story, I can think of one. But of those directors who use the story to enhance the technology, I can think of many. Add director Kerry Conran to that list: "Sky Captain" is a good-looking bomb, a film that sadly never springs to life.

The story centers around an old movie style New York where reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is covering a story on the disappearance of six missing scientists. She is contacted by a Doctor Jennings, who says he was the seventh scientist brought to an undisclosed location to create a doomsday device for another scientist named Totenkopf.

Totenkopf is knocking all of them out of the picture so they can't tell anyone about it. Suddenly giant robots fall into view, bringing on the legendary Sky Captain, or to Polly, Joe (Jude Law). Polly and Joe once had a relationship that ended badly, leaving some friction between them. But now they have to work together to find Totenkopf before he destroys the world.

The story leads them to many incredible looking locations like a flight pad in the sky, a rain forest filled with exotic animals, and finally to Totenkopf?s underground lair. The action doesn't look that bad either, just the problem with all of this is that it gets boring; the plotting never develops past the point of trying to find this mysterious Totenkopf and so it just feels bland and overly familiar.

The characters are equally as poor. There is almost zero chemistry between Law and Paltrow and both are really miscast. They both look like a couple of stiffs, partly due to an almost entirely humorless script. Law isn't an action hero, and you can almost see the dramatic actor trying to break out. A role like Sky Captain should go to someone like Mel Gibson, who can have some fun with it. And Paltrow has shown countless times that she can't be a comic foil unless doing Shakespeare. And why is a beautiful woman like Angelina Jolie wearing an eye patch? Can't anyone find a good role for this poor woman?

"Sky Captain" looks like a really nice painting, but for that you can go to a museum. When I go to a movie I want to be engaged and want to be entertained and this movie just doesn't do either one.
Craig's Grade: C-
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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'Sky Captain' Articles
  • Greg's review B-
    September 19, 2004    Despite the fact that {Conran's} debut film is not great, it is still an enjoyable film, and I think we can expect good things from {him} in the future. -- Greg Ward
  • Gareth's review C
    September 18, 2004    The performances by Paltrow and Law are remarkably understated and the talented cast often comes across as bland. -- Gareth Von Kallenbach
  • Crowd Report: "Sky Captain"
    September 18, 2004    The attendance was right around Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Hellboy on their opening nights: a $8.5 - 9.5 million Friday gross would not surprise me. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Friday Box Office Analysis (9/17)
    September 18, 2004    {Sky Captain} opened in line with Thomas Jane?s comic book flick, The Punisher, which grossed $5.2 million on opening day for a $1,955 average in 2,649 theaters. -- Lee Tistaert