Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Bomb Rating: 

When I was less mature, I used to look at the cover of Cosmopolitan and pine for those cover girls. They seemed beautiful and ideal. Then slowly, I became aware of Photoshop and its ability not only to clean up blemishes, but to actually change shapes. Then I met a few of these women in person and discovered that not only is their skin splotchy from all the cigarettes they suck down, but most of them are so thin and skeletal that a light breeze can actually fracture their limbs. Now I look at the cover of Cosmo and feel ill and slightly used.

This is exactly how I felt after watching "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," a film that not only admits that its actors were filmed entirely in front of green screens, but actually celebrates it. Director Kerry Conran's film is a stylized homage to the 1940s and is little more than one gigantic art project.

Conran gives new meaning to the term "soft focus." When ace newspaper reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) first turns her face to the camera, you can barely see it through the thick sheen of Vaseline that's apparently been smeared on the lens. There's also a glow around her that makes her look like she's doubling as an airport runway landing beacon. No wonder invading robots almost step on her.

Robots do invade the big city and Polly is almost killed, only to be saved by Joe "Sky Captain" Sullivan (Jude Law). Polly has the information and Joe has the means to save the world from the evil, unseen Dr. Totenkopf (Laurence Olivier). And yes, Laurence Olivier has been dead since 1989, but Conran uses archival footage to essentially drag his corpse from the grave and animate it onscreen so he can make a quick buck. Isn't Hollywood wonderful?

As Joe, Polly and Joe's right-hand man, Dex (Giovanni Ribisi), home in on Dr. Totenkopf's location (hint: check the cemetery), we learn that Joe and British aviation ace "Franky" Cook (Angelina Jolie) used to have a thing. As Franky stands aboard her ship looking more studly than Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Speedo, we wonder how Joe could possibly prefer the annoying, conniving Polly to Franky. What we learn at the end of the movie is that Joe is basically a slut.

With its retro aesthetic, "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" will make you long for the good old days... before the invention of cinema.

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