Movie Review
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sky Captain poster
By Gareth Von Kallenbach     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 performances by Paltrow and Law are remarkably understated and the talented cast often comes across as bland.
Going back to the days of episodic serials, ?Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow? attempts to blend the thrills of the old adventure films and serials with the high tech computer effects of the modern age. The film stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law as reporter Polly Prince and aviator Sky Captain who are reunited during a surprise attack on New York by an army of robots. Polly has been investigating a recent wake of scientists who have vanished under mysterious circumstances, and when the robots attack, Polly sees a connection and gets in contact with her old flame the Sky Captain.

Sky Captain is not thrilled to see Polly, as he does not trust her, especially since he was left in a dangerous situation as a result of her ambition when they last parted. Nevertheless, they team up and investigate the cause of the attacks. Soon, Sky Captain?s base is attacked and his friend and gadget creator Dex (Giovanni Ribisi) has been kidnapped. In a race against time to save Dex and stop the evil Dr. Totenkopf from destroying the world, Sky Captain and Polly must travel the globe meeting all manner of deadly and bizarre resistance in some of the most remote locations on the planet.

Eventually the team meets up with Captain Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie), who also has a past with Sky Captain. And her legion of flying forces help stage an attack on the good doctors compound in a lavish display of FX and action as they attempt to gain entry to a hidden fortress.

While ambitious, ?Sky Captain? suffers from a lack of focus, as the film tries to do too much. Writer/director Kerry Conran does a good job in his first feature, as he blends lavish visuals in a unique way to create and populate the world of the film. Sadly, though, the performances by Paltrow and Law are remarkably understated and the talented cast often comes across as bland. This causes the audience to have little connection with the characters, and any real tension or chemistry is sadly lacking.

We know there was some history between the two lead characters, but it is mostly glossed over in favor of the action, which after a while comes across as more of the same and becomes bland. Only the Franky character stands out, as Jolie plays her with a sultry charm and flair that hides her devilish streak, yet emphasizes the strength of her character and her loyalty to the captain.

I had really wanted to like this film, as I found the premise interesting, but the action sequences were rather underwhelming. It was very obvious that that the movie was filmed entirely against screens and used CGI for everything, from buildings to sets; it became overwhelming and some of the backgrounds were obviously false and did not match up well with the actors.

While this can be excused, the plot borrows heavily from other works, and while it was inspired by the serials of old pulp comics, I saw ?Indiana Jones,? ?Star Wars,? and ?Jurassic Park? over and over in the film. Law, Jolie, and Paltrow are talented actors but they are given little to do aside from run around and spout stale dialogue from a story that is already muddled down by a lackluster plot, lack of tension, pacing, and average special effects.

Conran is a director with promise and it should be noted that despite the film?s faults, the film was a daunting task, as it was shot in just 29 days ? that is a strain even for the most seasoned of directors. ?Sky Captain? is an average film that could have been much better with just a little more time in the hangar.
Gareth's Grade: C
Gareth's Overall Grading: 50 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
  • Craig's review C-
    September 18, 2004    The plotting never develops past the point of trying to find this mysterious Totenkopf and so it just feels bland and overly familiar. -- Craig Younkin
  • 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