Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

Fun throwback to the serials of the 1930s and, more obviously, a great showcase for then-modern digital compositing and greenscreen technology. Gwenyth Paltrow plays Polly Perkins (if you are already turned off, avoid this film), a spright New York reporter who stumbles on a nefarious plot to destroy the world. Jude Law is Joe Sullivan, a.k.a. the titular Sky Captain, Polly's ex who happens to be mankinds last hope at saving the day. Considering they spent most of their time running around in front of a green screen, their chemistry is what holds up interest in the film and, luckily, it works. Gwenyth displays the eye-rolling cynicism that got her a similar gig in Iron Man, and Jude Law actually shows some reserve for once; it could've been his most smiley role ever, but luckily, he keeps the cheekiness to a relative minimum. The rest of the cast is serviceable, with Giovanni Ribisi and Omid Djalili as reliable sidekicks to "Cap," as they call him, and late cameos by Anjelina Jolie (worthless, but her lips are among the films most impressive effects) and, in a very nice touch, fucking Lawrence Olivier. Again, if that last bit turned you off, avoid this film, but it evokes the time period like a motherfucker.

The story of the film is cute, but sometimes its thinness catches up with it, and you are left to wonder why you are watching this crazy fuckin thing. But then one of the many charming moments occurs, and you remember that, while it is light as air, this is a successfully entertaining film, and, surprisingly, the script is strong enough to warrant the effects budget. In the trailers, I thought the weird white sheen on all the surfaces would turn me off, but the visuals all work well in the finished product; very evocative, interesting work.

Recommended to fans of old school cinema (a la Indiana Jones), effects junkies, and those who dig movies that open with flying robots invading New York and lasering the shit out of everything.

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