One of the awards this movie deserves is Longest Title Without a Subtitle, since it was elongated from The World of Tomorrow as to not confuse this flick with this year's The Day After Tomorrow. As far as real awards are concerned, it might deserve one for production design, because the movie has a wonderful visual look, but that's about it, because virtually nothing else is worth seeing here.
The word "virtually" is aptly used here, since the whole movie is shot before a blue-screen, with everything except the human actors done in CGI. Props are definitely deserved for the production designer, Kevin Conran, brother of writer-director Kelly Conran. The CGI-backgrounds are great, even though this movie is set in the 40s and it looks more like 2040. The flick starts out with a 40s look, which is fine, but when we get deeper into the movie, it starts to look a hell of a lot like a Star Wars-ish movie. The Star Wars trilogy seemingly had a profound impact on the Conran's, since there is an incredibly overdone score by Ed Shearmur that definitely draws similarites to the Holy Trilogy's scores by John Williams. Director Conran also uses wipe transitions, a technique used almost prominently by George Lucas. There are also a lot of little subtelties that if you're a Star Wars fan, you'll probably think looks very familiar.
Anyway, the flick takes place in New York City, where some scientists have been dissapearing and then a bunch of huge robots appear and tear up the city. Of course, only one can stop it...out of everyone in the world. That one person is Sky Captain Joe Sullivan (Law) who must stop the machines with his wits and plane with shark's teeth painted on the nose. Original, yeah. Nosy reporter Polly Perkins (Paltrow), Joe's ex, gets involved and "helps" the cause, along with tech geek Dex (Ribisi) and his wonderful toys. Oh yeah, Angelina Jolie is here too, in a role remniscent of Steven Seagal's in Executive Decision. She gets a starring bill, as an eye-patch-clad commander, and, like Seagal, she appears in the flick for about 15, maybe 20 minutes.
The performances aren't horrendous, but you definitely won't be hearing any acceptance speeches because of them. Jude Law, who can be good at times, is merely average here. Gwenyth Paltrow, who I always thought was slightly overrated, is fairly bland and even Giovani Ribisi, who I've always liked isnt' really that good here either, even though he has a rather small role. Jolie isn't that bad, but you can barely notice as she's not on screen that much. There really isn't a best or worst performance here, because they're all just average. I have no idea how they managed to get the late Lawrence Olivier, in archived footage, here for his role, which I won't spoil, but it just seemed rather odd. I can't really knock the performances too much, because the script they had to work with was a lot worse than their performances were.
Writer-director Kerry Conran, making his writing-directing debut here, should’ve taken on another writer. Apparently, this project’s genesis came when producer Jon Avnet saw Conran’s short reel of robots taking over NYC and wanted to make it into a feature. It makes sense, because there couldn’t have been much of a script for that short reel, and it seemed, after seeing the feature, they didn’t really care about the script anyway. The script is riddled with things that don't need to be in dialogue. For instance, in a scene towards the end, Joe and Polly are in this huge structure, and this insanely narrow bridge thing is the only way for them to get to the other side. You would think this doesn't need to be expressed in dialogue, but, yes, here it is with, "That's our only way across." Wow. That is only the most glaring example of sloppy writing, but there are many others throughout the movie. On the good side, Conran does throw us a curveball or two. There are a few scenes that seem like they're heading for a cliche solution, but ends up going in the opposite direction. The best example of this is when Joe and Polly are in Joe's plane and they nosedive towards the water, with these robot-bird hybrids following them. If you've seen movies before, logic tells you they'll pull up at the last possible second. But not here, as they plummet straight into the water, since the plane is rigged for deep-sea diving, and such. These curveballs, and a few slick lines of dialogue, though, don't even come close to making up for the rest of the poor script, including the incredibly bizarre (in a bad way) rationale for the whole debacle taking place.
Conran handles his business quite well in the directors chair. He handles the dogfighting scenes quite nicely, and it seems that he can use CGI to his advantage just as good as anyone in the business. But, he doesn't seem to know how to handle his actors, because we just don't get a whole lot out of the performances. It's not a total surprise, then, to see that his next project involves him directing and not writing. He definitely shows promise as a director, as long as someone else handles the script.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a movie that shows the importance of a solid script. The movie is entertaining in small doses, but not very solid as a whole at all. This is a wonderful movie from a visual standpoint. Too bad it's not wonderful from any other standpoint...
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a movie about