Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Sept 18, 2004 0:58:27 GMT -5
Post by LadyWinterWolf on Sept 18, 2004 0:58:27 GMT -5
SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW -
Sky has limits
by Kevin Williamson
As a feat of visual effects, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is an unparalleled dazzler — the Fonzie of sci-fi flicks, so cool that it snaps its fingers and geeks come running.
SAVING THE WORLD ... Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow star in the stylized-fantasy action drama, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
But for a movie — with its requirements of story, character and emotion — cool doesn’t quite cut it.
Set in a hyper-stylized 1939 and packed with adoring imagery from the early 20th century, this love letter to the adventure serials of yore — which in turn inspired the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg era of Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark — stars Jude Law as high-flying pilot Sky Captain Joe Sullivan and Gwyneth Paltrow as his former flame, metropolitan newspaper reporter Polly Perkins.
From the opening scenes, in which the Hindenburg III docks upon the Empire State Building, rookie director Kerry Conran pronounces his intentions and ambitions with bullhorn clarity.
Sky Captain isn’t so much a special-effects-driven movie as one endless effect populated with flesh-and-blood actors — the third act of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? played out in one of Max Fleischer’s beloved Superman cartoons.
That reference couldn’t be more underlined than when this fictitious Big Apple is attacked by mountainous machine men in what is the film’s standout scene.
It turns out the attack — fended off by Sky Captain — may be linked to Perkins’ latest story, in which she’s investigating the disappearance of several scientists.
That sends the ex-lovers on an over-the-top yarn — bickering all the way — involving robotic predators, genetically-modified monsters, a black-coated assassin and a mad scientist bent on world destruction.
Sounds like fun — and, especially at the beginning, it is.
But as appreciative as I may be of what Conran has pulled off, I never felt emotionally invested in the action or characters. Admiration? Yes. Exhilaration? Sadly, no.
Maybe that’s because, while delivered in a wholly original package, the movie’s skeleton consists of the old bones of better films. Or maybe it’s because like Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, Sky Captain is a digital illusion.
Except for the actors, costumes and a few props, everything on-screen was created on a computer — something many actors, no matter how gifted, struggle with. Call it Natalie Portman Syndrome.
Paltrow, for one, looks lost and bored as a plucky Lois Lane clone.
At least Law delivers a droll, sly turn that — while it pales in comparison to Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones — isn’t dull.
Thankfully, too, there is Angelina Jolie in an extended cameo as a feisty British pilot who adds some much needed friction to the story’s romance.
Also welcome? Giovanni Ribisi as Dex, the gadget genius that is the Q to Law’s James Bond.
Maybe for their next adventure he can invent a stronger script and more energetic work from Paltrow.