Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

sky captain and the world of tomorrow poster 2004 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Original look and style, visually stunning world

Hard to get use to visuals, slow pacing

Movie Info

Movie Name: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  September 2004 (Venice Film Festival)/September 17, 2004 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

sky captain and the world of tomorrow jude law gwyneth paltrow elephant

I want a pygmy elephant now!

When world renowned scientists begin disappearing, intrepid reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is hot on the case.  Fortunately, Polly’s dashing former love Joseph Sullivan (Jude Law) aka Sky Captain is keeping New York City safe.  When giant robots invade the city and kidnap Sky Captain’s loyal sidekick Dex (Giovanni Ribisi), Polly and Joseph find themselves travelling the globe, finding mountain paradises, flying fortresses, undersea bases, and battling a mystery woman (Bai Ling) bent on stopping them.  The quest for Dr. Totenkopf (Laurence Olivier) is on, and the fate of the world is in Sky Captain’s hands!

Directed by Kerry Conran, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a science-fiction action fantasy.  The movie was released to positive reviews but under-performed at the box office.  It has gained a cult following since its release.

I saw Sky Captain in the theater.  I liked the whole pre-World War II, sci-fi, grounded Buck Rogers style storytelling (often called dieselpunk).  It didn’t surprise me that the movie failed and the visuals were a lot to take in on the first viewing.  Like other visionary films, the movie has a look and style that has been emulated since.  Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow may not be the most action filled action movie, but it is a solid remake of the serials that inspired it.

sky captain and the world of tomorrow frankie angelina jolie nick fury

Hey, Colonel Fury…I mean Commander Franky…where should I park the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier?

The story (when boiled down) is actually kind of smart.  You have all the tropes of the science-fiction meeting the most science fiction thing at the time…fighter pilots.  A mad-scientist is out to save the world from its mistakes after World War II and the only person who can stop it is a man in his flying machine.  It is absurd and it is absurd that everyone knows the legend of Sky Captain within the context of the film, but Sky Captain and his adventures are the world and the world reflects that.

The film is well cast.  The lead characters in serials were always very debonair and beautiful.  Law and Paltrow fit that mold and they are joined by the kind of odd sidekick character who Giovanni Ribisi fits.  Bai Ling is a good antagonist since at the time of the serials, the “East” was one of the more mysterious and scary enemies (but the film skirts the actual race issues).  The film was slightly controversial in that it resurrected Laurence Olivier to play Dr. Totenkopf using old footage, but as indicated at the beginning of the movie through Paltrow’s visit to the theater, he becomes the Wizard of Oz for his own mad plans.

sky captain and the world of tomorrow bai ling robots

I’ll get you my pretty!!!

The visuals are striking and are a great homage to sci-fi films and comics.  On the big screen, they almost burned your eyes but as the film progressed you did adjust to them.  Other movies like 300 and Sin City followed in its footsteps with the digitally created worlds, but due to the setting, Sky Captain’s world is probably richer.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow deserves reevaluation.  It is a bit slow paced at times (like The Rocketeer), but it also is classic action-adventure.  This combines with visuals that remind me a lot of Tron in their unique look and style.  The game Bioshock seemed to really pick up the story aspects and visuals of Sky Captain, but I kind of wish that the film had done better so that there might have been a sequel and more adventures of the character…but for now Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow flies alone.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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