Thursday, October 7, 2004

Sky Captain is Witty and Inventive

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is full of promise and, for the most part, delivers. Inventive and light-hearted, the film draws heavily on the style and look for 50's science fiction films and the movie serials that our grandparents grew up with. It feels like 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' in space. Heavily stylized, every scene looks like it was filmed in black and white or sepia tones 60 years ago and then painstakingly colorized to 'modernize' the look -- most of the actors speaking parts were filmed against green screen and the director, Kerry Conran, filled in the electronic backgrounds later. This lends the movie a gauzy, dreamy look that is undoubtedly unique without distracting once the viewer accepts it. Huge one-eyed robots, massive flying airships, and strange flapping winged machines populate the world, seemingly working in concert with an invisible threat that is kidnapping the world's smartest scientists. It falls to intrepid reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow in wide-eyed Lois Lane mode) and the aforementioned Sky Captain (a dashing Jude Law channeling a Clark Gable pilot/rouge/scoundrel) to find the face behind the insidious plot. A thin storyline, doubtless, but enough to keep the movie moving from one visually stunning scene to the next. And in the same vein as the robots, Angelina Jolie's still and humorless performance made this reviewer wonder if she were not to be revealed as a robot by the end. And why is the Sky Captain always in exactly the right place at the right time, no matter what is happening? Too many coincidences begin to pile up and threaten to bring down the paltry storyline, but imagination and slick visuals save the day.

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