Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow pays homage to movies and television series of old as robots attack New York City and the rest of the world. The first movie to use only blue screen sets with its actors, Sky Captain is a fun, action-packed adventure that the entire family can enjoy.
Jude Law stars as the title character - or Joe, if you prefer - who protects the city from danger with his state-of-the-art airplane. Even he can't stop a mystery doctor named Totenkopf from inflicting heavy damage on the world, however, as gigantic, nearly indestructible robots strike. They vanish as quickly as they appeared, but he, along with reporter and ex-flame Polly Perkins (Gwenyth Paltrow), travels around the world to seek the truth and stop Totenkopf before it's too late.
The plot is simple - a madman is trying to destroy the world - but there is a lot more to Sky Captain than merely story. Even still, the movie is a consistent ride from beginning to end, taking the characters across the globe and meeting danger at every turn. In many ways, it plays out like a sci-fi version of Indiana Jones (though not quite as good). It is perfectly suited for all ages as it has tons of action and excitement for everyone, but gratuitous violence is pretty much non-existent - the film even carries a PG rating.
The script is decent, but gets better as the movie goes on. Some of the dialogue is weak in places and the characters one-dimensional, but as the film goes on it opens up and the chemistry between Law and Paltrow strengthens. It takes a little while to click, but the humor in the movie is actually quite good without going over the top. On-screen, there is very little too laugh at, but the dialogue improves tremendously in the second and third acts. A few running jokes that are very comical emerge.
Most astounding, of course, are the visuals, which fluctuate between really good and excellent. As seen in the previews, the graphics are intentionally not meant to be realistic, though often it is hard to tell. The entire movie has a certain glow to it that pulls us back fifty years, but if you didn't know that everything but the actors was computer generated, you would just assume the director put some weird lenses on his camera.
The movie only really suffers when the characters arrive at an island and find dinosaurs and other strange creatures - the visual effects really aren't good enough to pull these animals off, even in Sky Captain's surreal setting. Still, the dinosaurs are a pretty minor part of the movie and don't really get in the way. Everything else - the backdrops and the robots - look top notch, even though they aren't completely realistic. It will be interesting to see how this movie is regarded in the visual effects category come Oscar time, as Sky Captain's visuals really cannot be compared to anything else.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a fun action-adventure movie that has few flaws and impressive visual effects. Those looking for a modern, serious and completely realistic movie should look elsewhere, but for those willing to let their imagination run wild, this is definitely one of the more entertaining and ambitious films of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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