Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Kerry Conran's blue-screen blockbuster is a remarkable debut

Director: Kerry Conran

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Angelina Jolie


Plot Summary: When famous scientists around the world mysteriously disappear, leading reporter Polly Perkins (Paltrow) and aviator Joe "Sky Captain" Sullivan (Law) launch an investigation. Risking their lives as they travel to exotic places around the world, can the fearless duo stop Dr. Totenkopf, the evil mastermind behind a plot to destroy the Earth? Aided by Franky Cook (Jolie), commander of an all-female amphibious squadron, and technical genius Dex (Giovanni Ribisi), Polly and Sky Captain may be our planet's only hope.

Review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a movie rather than just a mere film - it's bold, ambitious and deserves to be seen on the big screen.

Set in a 1939 where World War II doesn't seem to be a major concern, Kerry Conran's debut feature is a distinctive blend of groundbreaking technique and old-fashioned action-adventure.

Using a blue-screen technique he devised himself, Conran is able to place actors in whatever environment he and his team of digital artists create. The method allows Conran to create scenes involving real-life actors that would - for reasons of cost or impossibility - only normally be available to animators.

The technique also allows Conran to tightly control the overall look of his film - for World of Tomorrow, he gives the film an exaggerated, nostalgic sepia-tinged glow harking back to the color films of the interwar period.

The end result is that Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow looks quite unlike anything you've seen before, and has some truly dazzling sequences.

The downside to a film world in which anything is possible, especially for an action-adventure, is a loss of tension. At times, Sky Captain's artifice undermines Conran's attempts to create a credible and thrilling story.

On the evidence of Sky Captain, Conran is, for the time being, a more talented visual artist than he is an action director.

The Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies are an obvious influence, but Sky Captain lacks the punch and pizzazz that Spielberg and Lucas drive those films along with.

Casting too is a problem for Sky Captain. Any novice filmmaker would be grateful for the cast assembled here but the leads, though both very talented actors, lack the charisma and broad appeal to carry a blockbuster - a reason, perhaps, why the film was a commercial flop in North America.

Paltrow's girl reporter, Polly Perkins, is more cranky than feisty and, for a hero, Sky Captain skews whiney and adolescent - she's too tough, he's not tough enough.

But though it's flawed, it's hard not to admire Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. While it doesn't hit all the heights it aims for, the movie's ambition and style alone blow most recent Hollywood offerings away.

PTV Rating: 4 out of 5

Czech Premiere: Thursday, October 27th, 2004
Czech Title: Svět zítřka ("The World of Tomorrow")
Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes

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