Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"The consistent inventiveness of the visuals is matched by the white-knuckle excitement of the plot."

In the Forties, there were comics, such as Rover and Hotspur, that ran fantastically exciting serials, not with cartoon strips, but in prose, about spies and crazed scientists and exotic jungles, inhabited by mysterious civilisations.

Sky Captain is the personification of these, with a dash of Bulldog Drummond and a hint of Dick Barton Special Agent. It is a live action comicbook story that stays true to its conception and never attempts to send itself up in the modern tradition of wink-wink campy pastiche.

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The script by rookie writer/director Kerry Conran has a delightful lightness of touch, beautifully rendered by a cast of good sports. The special effects department is on Full Alert and virtually hijacks the movie. Unlike real life scenarios of kidnap and torture, this one is protected by the conventions of a well-told tale.

The period is late Thirties. Joe (Jude Law) is the Sky Captain, who runs a mercenary fighter-pilots-for-hire business. His one-time girlfriend, Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow), is now an intrepid reporter on the Daily Chronicle.

After the mysterious disappearance of the world's most famous scientists, New York comes under attack from flying giant robots that land on Broadway and march in serried ranks through the city's narrow streets. With the likes of Batman, Superman and Spider-man otherwise engaged on less pressing missions of mercy, the call goes out for the fearless, upper-lip-stiffner Sky Captain to save the day.

He does not, as you would expect from a man in a bomber jacket with a jaunty grin and mouthful of throwaway quips, hesitate for a minute. When Polly insists on coming along for the ride (and the story), he fails to dissuade her and so a series of running gags are set in motion.

With the help of Joe's loyal technical assistant (Giovanni Ribisi), he discovers the headquarters of the robots's creator (the late Sir Laurence Olivier) in the secretive Tibetan hinterland, referred to in romantic fiction - almost certainly the work of counter intelligence mindbenders - as Shangri La.

The consistent inventiveness of the visuals is matched by the white-knuckle excitement of the plot. Sky Captain is James Bond's dad, second cousin of Richard Hannay and an elusive cove, bit of a loner in modern parlance. Polly makes Lois Lane look tired and is Martha Gellhorn's aunt. As for new kid Conran, will someone give Tim Burton a wake up call?

Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2004
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Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow packshot
Giant robots on the wing in fantastic story of mad scientist, intrepid reporter and fighter pilot.
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Read more Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow reviews:

Scott Macdonald ****1/2
Jennie Kermode ***1/2
David Haviland **1/2
Gator MacReady **

Director: Kerry Conran

Writer: Kerry Conran

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Giovanni Ribisi, Angelina Jolie, Michael Gambon, Ling Bai, Omid Djalili

Year: 2004

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US/UK/Italy


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