Directed by: Kerry Conran
Premise: Joe “Sky Captain” Sullivan (Jude Law) teams up with reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) when giant machines begin to attack the earth.
What Works: The film looks great, especially in the first act. The film is designed to be an homage to the science fiction and adventure serials of the 1940s and combine that look with contemporary special effects. Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow are well cast in their roles and do a good job with what they have to work with.
What Doesn’t: Modern versions of 1940s serials are nothing new; George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made these famous in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. However, the strength of those pictures was founded on a strong script and that is exactly where Sky Captain goes awry. Its story is totally inane. The characters have little to do and the actions they take do not have much sense of purpose. Despite the apparent threat to the planet, the film fails to create any sense of urgency. Angelina Jolie’s character, although interesting, is totally wasted. Sky Captain enters the genre of the science fiction serial but then has no regard for basic narrative principles.
Bottom Line: This film represents the major problems facing the science fiction and fantasy genres today. Modern technology has given filmmakers special effects tools to create anything they can imagine, but then they fail to demonstrate even the most rudimentary sense of storytelling. Those who complained about the storytelling faults of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace have a new whipping boy.
Episode: #19 (September 19, 2004)