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SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. What a bizarre science fiction

It’s March 1939. The German airship Hindenburg III is heading towards New York with Dr. Jorge Vargas on board. He knows that his life is in danger.

EDITORIAL team

1 December 2023

SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. What a bizarre science fiction

Here in the New World, he is supposed to contact another scientist, Walter Jennings. Unfortunately, before the famous Zeppelin docks at the top of the Empire State Building, Dr. Vargas will be just a memory.

The next morning, Polly Perkins, a reporter for the New York Chronicle, receives a disturbing letter. Its author claims to know who will be the next victim after Dr. Jorge Vargas’s murder. Miss Perkins immediately goes to a meeting at a New York cinema. From Dr. Jennings, she learns that a mysterious organization founded by the mad scientist Dr. Totenkopf before World War I has devised a plan threatening the world’s safety. Shortly afterward, gigantic robots, seemingly out of nowhere, begin to wreak havoc in the city. The only man who can save New York, the symbol of America, is Sky Captain… Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow┬áis a film that is incredibly strange from the very beginning to the last second.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Gwyneth Paltrow

Created almost entirely using computer graphics, drawing inspiration from classic science fiction, film noir, and contemporary cinema, with a plot set in an alternate 20th century, action moving forward like the Orient Express, and a downright comic book script, it puts the viewer in real embarrassment, almost bordering on total consternation. For example, the positively predisposing beautiful and atmospheric beginning is spoiled by the unexplained arrival of steel giants straight out of a Warner Bros. cartoon. The noir-style investigation in Walter Jennings’ laboratory, combined with the appearance of a mysterious killer shooting lasers like Martians from Tim Burton’s movie, bursts like a richly decorated mirror and heralds another 70 minutes of misfortune for this film.

After a magnificent aerial battle between Sky Captain and the mysterious machines, there is a several-thousand-kilometer flight by plane, with a fuel tank the size of a regular light aircraft, from northern America to central Asia – without refueling. And so on and so forth. One scene kills another. An interesting solution is killed by a stupid oversight. All this confusion and mixing, and it’s unclear where it will lead… It’s a shame because the divergent fates of our world before and during World War II are indeed a grateful topic for a good film.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow giant robots

“Special effects like you’ve never seen before,” announced the speaker of the Captain’s trailer… However, viewers of Hallmark channel TV shows and movies had probably already encountered such horrific trash. What was supposed to be an advantage of this film is one of the nails in its coffin. Even in science fiction movies, there is a limit to good taste and the “realism” of unreal computer tricks. In Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, everything is so unnatural, so cruelly botched, that instead of attracting, it repels, pushes away, and causes nausea. The actors, probably unaccustomed to a studio consisting solely of a blue box, perform poorly.

They cannot find themselves in the situation, in the plot – they cannot identify with their characters. The exception is only Angelina Jolie, who, having spent only three days on the “set,” had a great time with her role, and Laurence Olivier, who did not spend a minute on the set… because he died more than 15 years earlier, and the film used only archival footage with him. However, it doesn’t change the fact that he performed quite well in comparison with such talented actors as Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, who had to get that damn Oscar for something eventually!

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Gwyneth Paltrow Jude Law Angelina Jolie

On the other hand, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow can be watched to the end. This is probably due to the mentioned references to the classics of cinema: War of the Worlds [from which, by the way, some sound effects were borrowed], King Kong, The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, Godzilla, Superman, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and many others. Some dialogues deserve attention [with brilliant one-liners at times – including one truly killing Captain Sky’s last line] – and the music, typical for adventure, adventurous, and heroic films. Truly, there are moments to catch your ear.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Gwyneth Paltrow Jude Law

One could say that Kerry Conran, a debut director and screenwriter in one, tried, but probably due to a lack of experience, it didn’t work out very well. The innovative special effects turned out not to be so innovative at all, and such a stylized look of the film [otherwise exhausting for an unprepared viewer] can be achieved using very simple means and minimal effort. The select cast is not impressive, maybe because they spent just under a month on the set. In summary, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a disappointment almost across the board, and unused potential, inconsistency, and unreality determined such a low rating.

Author of the text: Michal Fedorowicz

EDITORIAL team

EDITORIAL team

We're movie lovers who write for other movie lovers!

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