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SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW
U.S. Release Date: September 17, 2004
Distributor: Paramount
Composer: Ed Shearmur
Cast: Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi
Running Time: 1 hour and 47 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG (sequences of stylized sci-fi violence and brief mild language)

Tomb Raiders of the Lost Ark
by Scott Holleran

The gulf between motion picture technology, such as computer-generated imagery (CGI), and Hollywood's ideas is widening and it is abundantly clear in Kerry Conran's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Taking CGI to the next level, writer and director Conran's Cal Arts training is evident in Sky Captain's black and white skyscrapers, airships and robots, accompanied by Edward Shearmur's rousing musical score. Conran has created an alternate version of 1930's New York in comic book style; hovering above Manhattan in a dirigible, stomping on cars with an Iron Giant-type metallic monster and soaring to a secret island of resistance—all before gliding through the clouds to faraway places.

But Conran fails to match what his world looks like to why it exists. Mistaking caustic self-awareness for wit, he centers a B-movie romantic adventure on two anti-romantic lovers, which puts Sky Captain in a deadly spiral.

Jude Law's crabby captain is pitted against an evil mastermind bent on destroying the world—but he depends on others to do it. Law's dialog consists mainly of references to his comrade, Dex, a genius (Giovanni Ribisi) whose knowledge is the backbone of the resistance. For most of the movie, Law's pilot runs around saying Dex this and Dex that and where's Dex? It makes one wonder why Conran didn't make Dex, who is both more intelligent and heroic, the Sky Captain.

Whether Law's plane is nose-diving toward the sea or lost in the clouds, it is Dex's brains that bail him out. Law's too busy bickering to bother saving himself, let alone the world, and he looks like he'd rather be doing the laundry.

It's no wonder Law's miserable; as an irritating newspaper reporter and Law's ex-lover, Gwyneth Paltrow gets worse with each scene. Her character is dishonest, ungrateful and impossible to like. Paltrow's snickering and flat delivery amplifies her character's deficiencies. Together, Paltrow's shrew and Law's brat are unbearable. Angelina Jolie does a cameo as an eye-patched commander.

The movie mixes the spiteful couple's modern cynicism with the quasi-biblical theme that man is not God—though apparently no one told the brilliant Dex, whose glorious inventions frame the flick's best scenes. Action sequences are too fast, too loud and confusing and the conclusion, borrowing from James Bond and Indiana Jones, feels both fake and forced, leaving the stylized Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, gussied up with gadgets, like a plane without a pilot.


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