“This is Sky Captain. I’m on my way.”
Set in New York City during the 1930s, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow offers a simple globetrotting story full of great special effects and well cast stars.
Jude Law headlines as Joe ‘Sky Captain’ Sullivan, the leader of a special army for hire who battles worldly threats in his customized P-40 Warhawk. This time Joe faces a mysterious antagonist Totenkopf and a secret society called Unit 11.
Polly Perkins, a tenacious, star reporter of The Chronicle, has a detailed history with Joe that plays out well throughout the movie. He’s the only person who can focus her attention away from her self centered journalistic exploits. Their lively history includes a questionable plane sabotage that provides a running joke throughout the story. “I can take anything you dish out,” Polly as Joe replies “That was nothing.”
Angelina Jolie plays the confident Captain Francesca ‘Franky’ Cook. “She’s some kind of girl,” Frankie describes Polly to Joe during the only scene with the three stars together. Joe’s technical colleague Dex Dearborn, played by Giovanni Ribisi (Gone in 60 Seconds, The Other Sister), provides great support as a credible right hand man to the hero.
Other supporting characters including a guide named Kaji, played by Iranian stand up comedian Omid Djalili (The Mummy), another mysterious antagonist played by Chinese actress Bai Ling (Wild Wild West, Red Corner) and Polly’s protective editor Morris Paley, played by Michael Gambon (Gosford Park). “I like the smile, I just don’t like what’s behind it,” Morris says as Polly chases her story.
Filmmakers use foreshadowing and other techniques to build up the scenes, but the environments and cityscapes have the greatest impact on the audience. These engaging visuals were shot exclusively on background screens in front of the actors and partial sets.
A great score from veteran music composer Edward Shearmur enhances the scene transitions.
Paramount Pictures took a big risk by moving their $70 million dollar flagship from June 25th to September to avoid having their investment shot down at the box office by Spider-Man 2. This move has financially succeeded so far while providing audiences with some quality excitement and escapism that recalls the adventure movies of the 1920s and 30s.
This film was written and directed by a relative new filmmaker named Kerry Conran, who born and raised in Flint, Michigan. Conran got the job after he produced a well received six-minute film sample of CGI robots trampling through New York City.
Conran was also involved in the filming of the spin off PC video game The Flying Legion Air Combat Challenge at www.skycaptain.com.
The 107 minute movie needed a stronger story, but the well cast stars and amazing visuals create high level of entertainment. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG for stylized sci-fi violence, brief mild language and an instance of sexual innuendo.
Jude Law also produced the film with his now ex-wife Sadie Frost (Bram Stoker’s Dracula). See if you can guess the face of a famous actor filmmakers used to personify the main enemy. “World of Tomorrow” was the theme of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York City.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler