Welcome to another episode of Not as Bad as You Might Expect Theatre: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Sherlock Holmes put us in the mood for some Jude Law, so I immediately thought of Sky Captain. I'd seen it before, and was pretty unimpressed, but I thought I'd give it another chance.
Law is Sky Captain, leader of a mercenary army of Curtiss P-40s and zeppelins in a sci-fi world of the future version of the 1940s. When New York is threatened by giant flying robots, girl reporter Polly Perkins (Gweneth Paltrow) enlists him to same the world (of tomorrow).
This movie was famous (in 2004) for being totally computer generated, except for the actors. It was also famously a flop, but that's a little harsh. I thought the art direction was wonderful - a beautiful art-deco retro future, full of skyscrapers, airships, robots and rayguns, all decorated with streamlined allegorical statues of nude winged women. The plot is full of holes, of course, but also full of daring adventures and hairs-breadth escapes.
Nor is the cast negligible. Law is dashing and handsome, Paltrow winsome yet plucky. Sky Captain's chief mechanic and inventor sidekick, played by Giovanni Ribisi, is right out of the serials. Best of all, but tragically underused, is Angelina Jolie as Frankie, commander of a flying airfield. Dressed in sharp flying togs, with an eyepatch, she cuts quite a figure.
So, great movie, right? Not really. First, the actors all too frequently failed to mesh fully with the CGI scenery. We streamed this on Watch Instantly, so maybe it would have been better at higher rez. I doubt it, though. Second, the plot has a lot of annoying parts - mainly the romance between Law and Paltrow - possibly because Paltrow overplays in parts, and imitates a plank in others. These create a distancing effect to take you right out of the story, even during action scenes.
Still, it looks great and it's a fun story, in the new Boy's Adventure style of, say, Indiana Jones. Look at it this way: It's not as good as Temple of Doom, but better than Crystal Skull.