Sky Captain Offers Escapist Romp

By
September 23, 2004

Have you ever wondered what it
would be like to be a 12-year-old boy? Have you ever found yourself
asking, “Where are all the giant laser-shooting robots in my life?”
Well, then rest assured that all of your needs will be met and more
by Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

With breathtaking visual scenery
and costuming, Sky Captain indulges in a nostalgic dream
world of some archetypal big city in the 1940s. Gwyneth Paltrow and
Jude Law play the plucky hero and heroine, Polly Perkins and Joe
“Sky” Captain, who must foil the plans of archvillian Dr. Totenkopf
before giant robots and doomsday explosions destroy the earth. All
of the expected elements are there; newspaper headlines spiral
toward the screen announcing the mechanical mayhem, Polly Perkins’
deep red lipstick and shiny blond locks are never mussed, Angelina
Jolie actually says the line, “Ready the Amphibious Brigade!” and
an endless array of top secret space-age gadgets straight out of
Buck Rogers save the day. The actors speak in stiff, flat
exclamations, and their performances never break the noir-ish feel
of the setting. The director really left no post-war sci-fi
cliché behind, a tongue in cheek continuity that allows
Sky Captain to be a fun escapist caper rather than just
another modern action plot with a few historical objects thrown in
to “give a feel.”

But despite its reliance on
pre-established devices, the film is incredibly imaginative and
original. Shot entirely in front of a blue screen and completed
with computer illustration, the visual innovations are numerous and
exciting. Gorgeous visual details effortlessly adorn each shot as
the characters move from Tibet to underwater to floating in the
clouds. The total reliance on computer effects also saves viewers
from the disappointment of a stiffly rendered and pixelated
creature along in actual scenery, and secures the beautiful
illusion of Sky Captain’s world.

This is truly the best aspect to
the movie, a total devotion to a nostalgic idea that allows cynical
modern viewers to enjoy a love story without cleavage, and a
compelling adventure without blood, bullets or bad language. Sky
Captain
probably won’t cause you to take philosophical
inventory of your life, but that’s not its goal. By making a film
that is unapologetically sappy and silly, that knowingly exploits
its own genre, Sky Captain delivers something truly rare: a
smart action movie that relies not on dramatic plot twists or
thorny intrigue, but simply intelligent fun.


Sky Captain Offers Escapist Romp was published on September 23, 2004 in Arts & Entertainment

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