Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

By Mark Ramsey | 2004/09/14

Manhattan is being invaded by an overwhelming force of mindless mechanical monsters bent on world domination. Is this Return of the Republican Convention? No! It’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and those iron giants are part of a diabolical plot to exhaust the world of its supply of gargantuan Duracells!

What’s going on here? Somebody is stealing generators from every major city. Who is this villain? And is he a buyer for Home Depot?

Skip the police and military, this is a job for one lone guy in a prop-plane - this is a job for Sky Captain!

skycaptain_smokerings.jpgWho’s behind these shenanigans? Well, that depends on who’s pronouncing his name: “Where is TOTEnkopf?” asks Jude Law. “We need to find TOTTenkopf,” says Gwyneth Paltrow. “Which way to TOOTenkopf?,” asks Angelina Jolie. In a single scene, this name is pronounced three different ways. “This is madness!” exclaimed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi … Kaddafi … Gadhafi!

Inspired by the serial adventures of yesteryear, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow returns us to 1939, a time when “aromatherapy” meant the smell of Vitalis and Barbasol. A time when World War II aircraft took to the skies to battle flying Transformer Robots.

Jude Law is the daredevil flying ace whose aircraft is specially equipped as both a fighter and a submarine. In military terms, this is called “convergence.” It’s a plane, it’s a sub, it’s a cotton gin, it’s an espresso-maker!

Sky Captain’s sidekick is a high-tech genius. He invents a pistol that fires smoke rings. It doesn’t kill the enemy, but it sure delights them over cocktails!

Gwyneth Paltrow is the lead dame, tomato, skirt, broad, sister. Listen, ya mug, she’s the tough-as-nails reporter who illustrates why Donna Reed never got the Barbara Stanwyck roles. What a tepid doll, yo!

Much fuss is being made over this movie because virtually all of it is backdropped against a blue screen. Everything you see in this sepia-toned imaginarium is made in a computer unless someone’s holding it in their hands – and if Anna Nicole Smith is holding it in her hands it was likely made in a pharmaceutical lab.

“Aleht the amphibious squadron!” says Angelina Jolie. Never has an actress uttered more silly British commands than Jolie, who captains the all-female amphibians like synchronized swimmers with guns. “Ready assholt teams!” she yells. “Ahm clusteh tohpedoes and stick clewse to unit fohmation!” she commands. “Retuhn my Oscah to the Academy with my profoundest apohlogies!” she shouts. With her little military cap and her black uniform, Angie looks like she should be handling Jude Law’s luggage.

skycaptain_depthperception.jpgWith one good eye and one good eye-patch, Angie is chief of a mysterious floating airship cleverly camouflaged with an enormous Union Jack. That’ll keep the Krauts guessing! “It was either that or a gigantic bulls-eye, and Target had already trademarked the bulls-eye” explained Jolie. By the way, is it wise to leave the navigation of your vast floating airship in the hands of an officer with no depth perception?

There’s a very cool opening scene showing a Zeppelin docking atop the Empire State Building, foreshadowing a later scene where Angelina’s lips dock atop her chin. The Zeppelin is called the Hindenburg III which is distinguished from Zeppelin IV due to the lack of any Stairway to Heaven.

Why become a Sky Captain? I thought I’d find out by interviewing a real SkyCap at LAX:

MovieJuice: How many times have you been called on to save the world?

SkyCap: Today?

MovieJuice: Is it true you have broken hearts in every corner of the planet?

SkyCap: No, but I’ve broken luggage tags in every corner of this terminal.

MovieJuice: Did you see Angelina Jolie lose one eye?

SkyCap: No, it happened while the sun was eclipsed by her lips.

MovieJuice: Hey, SkyCap, why “The World of Tomorrow”?

SkyCap: Because that’s where you’ll be by the time you’re through security.

Sky Captain provides a humbling lesson about our stewardship over the Earth and the risks of technology run amok. Oh Hell, what am I talking about? It’s just a fun popcorn flick with a distractingly impressionistic production design.

It’s not animation, it’s animationish. It’s not entertaining, it’s entertainingish.

Given a choice between Sky Captain and Crunch Cap’n, I’ll go for the one commanding the squadron of crunch berries.

Photos Copyright ©2004 Paramount Pictures


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