Giant robots are marching down New York City's streets. Plucky newspaper reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is trapped in their path. But she doesn't panic. Instead, even though the robots are terribly close, she calmly pauses—and takes a moment to reach down and slightly rip her long skirt so she can run better. Then, she goes into action.

From trailers and word-of-mouth, everyone knows Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is modeled on 1930 adventure serials—not only by capturing a stark Technicolor look but also by approaching sci-fi the way a writer in the early 1900s would have viewed the future: with bulky trash-can robots, a tough-as-nails hero, and stainless-steel rockets. However, first-time writer and director Kerry Conran hasn't just mimicked his favorite serials and comic books. Instead, by spending ten years on the most minute details—like showing and not telling his heroine's pluckiness—he's written a love letter to the full scope of 1930s and '40s films by basically making one. In everything from the opening credits to scene transitions to matte-painting backgrounds, movie viewers in 50 years may not recognize that Sky Captain was made in an era any different than 1929's Metropolis.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, in search of answers

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, in search of answers

Of course, there is one big difference. Metropolis had no computers, and Conran used computer graphics to create everything in his film—except the actors. It's the first-ever movie with an all-CGI background and live actors, who were filmed entirely against a blue screen; everything else was added later with computers.

The CG here is impressive, but isn't perfect. Like in the Star Wars prequels and I, Robot, objects can lack real weight or feel cartoony. But since Conran's goal was to make a movie ...

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG (for sequences of stylized sci-fi violence and brief mild language)
Directed By
Kerry Conran
Run Time
1 hour 46 minutes
Cast
Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Gambon
Theatre Release
September 17, 2004 by Paramount Pictures
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