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TR.N Research Indy's Influences Legacy Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Released by Paramount Pictures - 200

Directed by: Kerry Conran
Written by: Kerry Conran
Produced by: Jon Avnet, Aurelio De Laurentiis, Sadie Frost, Robert Gordon, Bill Haber, Jude Law & Marsha Oglesby

Jude Law .... Joe 'Sky Captain' Sullivan
Gwyneth Paltrow .... Polly Perkins
Angelina Jolie .... Capt. 'Franky' Cook
Giovanni Ribisi .... Dex Dearborn
Michael Gambon .... Editor Morris Paley
Ling Bai .... Mysterious Woman


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.

Zeppelins under attack!

Sky 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.

Jude 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, and films.

Sky Captain flying
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 Cook.

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.

Ultimately, Sky 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)


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