Well there really is no way to
easily review Sky Captain
and the World of Tomorrow. It is not a
film that can be compared to others because it
is a wholly unique experience, both visually and
narratively. Director Kerry Conran has been very
open about the fact that this film draws inspiration
from Lucasfilms like Indiana
Jones and Star
Wars, but pulls even more of its feel and
structure from the very same sources that inspired
George Lucas’ two big franchises: Adventure
serials and sci-fi comic books of the 1930s.
Captain spins a tale set in a retro-futuristic
1939 world. Zeppelins fill the skyways and everyone
wears trench coats and fedoras. Already, any Indiana
Jones fan will be hooked. I’m not one to
give away movies for the ignorant, but I will
provide some basic information to set you up for
this great film.
Our adventure begins in New York
City where ace reporter for the New York Chronicle,
Polly Perkins, receives a message to meet a Dr.
Jennings who warns her that there an evil Dr.
Totenkopf whom he knew during the Great War (World
War I) is hunting him and his former colleagues.
Before she can get more information from him,
massive mechanical robots assault New York City
and attempt to steal its electric generators.
The city summons Sky Captain, daredevil pilot
and mercenary for hire, to save the city and solve
the mystery of the attack.
Law & Paltrow.
Beyond that, I really don’t
want to give anything away story-wise for all
of you. This movie is truly that good. The movie
truly captures the “whiz-bang” feel
of 1930s entertainment, and in a way that has
not been achieved since Indiana
Jones and The
Rocketeer. The entire film has been digitally
created so that Conran could fully realize the
stylized “retro-future” that was such
a signature staple of 1930s literature, comics,
through NY City.
Indiana Jones fans have much to
see and appreciate in this movie. The most apparent
aspects are the settings and the pace of the action.
Beautiful art deco architecture, 30s automobiles,
P-40 Kittyhawks whizzing by at breakneck speed,
exploding Zeppelins everywhere, and of course
the period costuming. No detail has been overlooked.
There is a shot of Sky Captain’s P-40 taxiing
into a massive hangar, and some of the tiny glass
windows in the hangar doors are broken as was
common with doors of that type. Sky Captain even
wears the correct Mk VIII flight goggles so popular
with 1930s aviators.
Indy fans will also enjoy Sky Captain’s
quest to find Totenkopf, which has a distinct
Indy flavor, the “maps” superimposed
over the scenes during travel sequences, Polly
Perkins’ love-hate relationship with the
brave Captain, the crazy chases, escapes and the
films unbelievable climax. And yes, there is a
sequence where a character says the word "ark",
but you have to watch the film to find out why.
Jolie as Captain
The film draws from many other
sources for its visual construction. The cinematography
is reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis
and the introductory shots of the robot attack
echo the 1940s Max Fleischer Superman
animated short, The Mechanical
Monsters. Vintage aviation enthusiasts
will thrill to the extremely accurate digital
renderings of the aforementioned P-40 and some
very impressive B-24 Liberators in the backgrounds.
Captain is its own animal, the definitive
homage to 1930s science fiction, just as Raiders
of the Lost Ark is the ultimate homage
to 1930s adventure serials.
Grab your flying goggles, strap
in, and enjoy the ride. See Sky
Captain and the World of Tomorrow. You
will not be disappointed. (MF)