Imagine a combination of the film The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Buck Rogers comics, with a dash of the paintings of Edward Hopper, and you get Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
A suggestion: watch the extras on the DVD that show how the movie was made before you watch the movie itself. It greatly enhances your appreciation of the final product. The actors were filmed entirely with blue screens, with the effects added later. But the effects aren’t just the giant robots and flying machines. Beautifully rendered rooms and city surroundings are brought to life using CGI technology. Film noir unfolds.
For the record, I hate the expression “film noir”. Actually, I hate saying it. If you’re not sure of the correct pronunciation, look it up. Then say it. (A PAUSE HERE WHILE YOU SAY IT ALOUD). Now, don’t you feel stupid?
Set in 1939 New York, The film has a very stylized look. Absolutely gorgeous. The entire film is washed in sepia tones. If you are sepia phobic, stay away from this movie.
The plot: an unknown person is behind the disappearance of the world’s top scientists. Somehow connected, giant robots have attacked major cities with the goal of stealing their technology. Sky Captain (Jude Law, the leader of a mercenary legion of pilots) is called upon to find out what is behind the mystery. Nipping at his heels is reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow), looking for her big story.
Yes it sounds silly, but part of the charm is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Unlike the movie Avatar (2010), which, while technically brilliant, seemed to believe that the world could become a better place if only we followed the example of the Ten-Foot Tall Blue People With Tails (or as I prefer to call them, TFTBPWTs).
Interestingly, when you say “TFTBPWT” out loud, it doesn’t sound nearly as silly as when you say “film noir“. I’ve never noticed that until now.
But I digress.
A movie that was a throwback to the adventure serials of yesteryear didn’t stand much of a chance at the box office. It lost money, which is probably why this was director Kerry Conran’s first and so far, only movie. What a pity. A movie full of TFTBPWTs rakes in almost three billion dollars, while a true work of art and heart goes unnoticed. Is there no justice in the world? Where can it be found? This looks like a job for . . . Sky Captain!