Friday, August 2, 2013

Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow (2004)

**This review contains spoilers**

It’s 1939 in an alternate universe, and New York is ambushed by an army of giant robots one day. Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow), a pesky newspaper reporter, tries to snap some pictures during the attack for the big scoop, but the robots nearly kill her, until Joe Sullivan (Jude Law) comes to the recuse. A famed and glorified expert fighter pilot, Joe is the Commander for a private and elite air force in New York, and Joe’s accolades earned him the nickname “Sky Captain.”

After Joe and his fleet thwart the robot attack, the remaining robots mysteriously and suddenly retreat, while crippling New York’s major resources. Polly wants the story of a lifetime, and she has information from a scientist, who is apart of a plot that involves the creation of the robots, and the sudden disappearances of the scientists, who are connected to the robot attacks. Joe agrees to let Polly tag along for the adventure, so he can get to the roots of the robot mystery. But Joe and Polly will have to put aside some bitter feelings from a broken relationship of the past to work together, and help each other.

Joe receives more help from his top mechanic, Dex (Giovanni Ribsi), and an essential last second helping hand from an old girlfriend and the Commander of a Royal Naval flying aircraft carrier named Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie). But along the way, Joe and Polly are stalked by an unknown henchwoman (Bai Ling), and Joe must protect Polly from more attacking robots. And soon enough, Joe and Polly stumble into a secret world controlled by machines, and they discover a devastating plot to rebuild, as they learn about the plans from Dr. Totenkopf (Laurence Oliver), the mad scientist and  mastermind, who started it all.

Well I’ll just get this out of the way now, Jude Law wasn’t the right choice for the leading role. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Law, and he’s one of my favorite actors, but for this role? Just…no. Joe Sullivan is supposed to be this larger than life hero, who has all the women falling at his feet, but Law isn’t convincing. First and foremost, Law isn’t the type of guy, who has that “look.” Maybe Brad Pitt, Geroge Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, or Tom Cruise, but Law doesn’t embody that presence of an awe-inspiring character. I’ll give Law credit, though. He gives it his all, but still, physically or performance wise, Law can’t live up to Joe Sullivan’s god-like reputation and persona.

Gwyneth Paltrow on the other hand, is a percet fit for Polly Perkins. The character isn’t something fresh or new, because Polly is the sneaky reporter, who will do anything to get the first scoop on the next big story. But Paltrow has the right look, and she brings this sense of innocence to Polly, which really pulls the character together in the grand scheme of things.

Ribsi is good for a few laughs as the tech geek, and I can’t say that much about Jolie. She’s not bad as the tough and fearless Commander, and they never explained the reason behind it, but the eye patch is a nice touch for her character. But Jolie doesn’t actually appear until the tail end of the film, and after that, Franky is limited to a few sporadic appearances. As far as Bai Ling goes, I can’t say anything negative or positive about her. She pops up every now and then to try and stop Joe and Polly, as they inch closer to solving the mystery. But Ling never speaks a word, and she doesn’t hurt or help the movie in a way that’s really noticeable or significant at all. And if you’re wondering, no. Laurence Oliver isn’t alive. He passed away back in the late 80’s or early 90’s. They just used some CGI magic for his big Wizard Of Oz style appearance towards the end.

Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow is LOADED with winks to some of the all-time great blockbusters and classical films. King Kong, Godzilla, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (the ‘54 version of course, because it’s the most well-known and praised version), wreckage from the Titanic, and of course, The Wizard Of Oz  (1939). Oz is the most prominent nostalgia wink here, because they show actual footage from the 1939 film, and as I said before, Oliver’s big appearance as “The Wizard” is reminiscent of the final moments (you know the scene I’m talking about) in the ‘39 classic.

I know a lot of people are torn down the middle, when it comes to the CGI in this film. Some think it’s too much and too tacky. Others love it, but I‘m split down the middle. Yes. I can understand a film like Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow NEEDING a grand and extravagant stage/landscape. BUT the CGI is tacky and it looks pretty cheap. Sorry, but it’s hard to ignore. I mean, it’s not so horrible that it ruins the movie, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t come close.

Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow tries to be a nostalgic and awe-inspiring action/sci-fi flick full of grandeur and wonder, but it falls short of achieving the intended goal of unquestioned excellence. And again, if Jude Law wasn’t in the leading role, I would probably go with a higher score. But Sky Captain deserves some credit for a handful of thrilling and stylish action sequences, and any movie buff or true fan of cinema, and its history should apppreacite the numerous attempts to pay homage to the great, classical films of the past.

Rating: 6/10

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