Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi
Sadly, based on the evidence here, the future of movies will not include original thinking when it comes to characters or plot. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow represents Hollywood's vision of a brave new world: It was made almost entirely by filming actors against a blue screen—no locations, no sets—and then using digital imagery to fill in the scenery, backgrounds and hordes of extras. The hitch is that the movie plays as if the script was also written by a computer, one that had been programmed to slice and dice and recombine Casablanca, Metropolis, Buck Rogers serials and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Given how dazzling Sky Captain looks, particularly in its early scenes, one wishes mightily that first-time writer-director Kerry Conran had found a more intriguing story to support his visual and technological panache. Instead we get a familiar, feeble tale about Capt. H. Joseph Sullivan (Law), a daredevil pilot better known as Sky Captain, reluctantly teaming up with Manhattan newspaper reporter Polly Perkins (Paltrow), his former girlfriend, in the late '30s to stop an evil German scientist from destroying the planet. Add battles with robots, attacking spaceships and a trip to the Himalayas, and who can blame a viewer for half-expecting Indiana Jones to pop up to lend a hand?
Both Law and Paltrow get into the period swing, with Law emphasizing his hero's raffishness and Paltrow Polly's pluckiness (despite a tendency to whine). Jolie, playing a British military officer who once rivaled Polly for the Sky Captain's affections, manages to make maximum impact in a minimal part. Maybe it's her eye patch. No one-eyed pirate ever looked as sexy or commanding. (PG)