Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)


Kerry Conran


Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Omid Djalili


Robots attack the world, and everyone relies on the all-american [sic] Jude Law to save them. All shot on a bluescreen, with outstanding visuals added post-production. Plot was sadly not added at the same time.


This is one of the first films shot entirely on a blue/greenscreen background. What must have been a monumentally boring project for the actors to make sadly translates across into the viewing experience.
I did not watch this film at the cinema, which would, no doubt, have improved the experience. But watching at home makes it very apparent that as beautiful as the visuals are (a sort of cross between Citizen Kane, Dick Tracy and the Iron Man), the flaws of the plot and characterisation shine through the drearily coloured backdrop.

The story advances in a singularly linear fashion, much in the same way as the 'Point n Click' computer games of the mid-nineties. The retro-technological visuals are rather like 'Beneath a Steel Sky', mixed with some gratuitous technological advances that serve more to highlight the skills of the designers and artists rather than the script or acting. The characters are made no more likeable by their pointless 'quirks', such as Jude Law's obsession with Milk of Magnesia, and the frailties of the actors appear to be enhanced by their lack of visual stimuli to give some depth or direction to their delivery of already weak dialogue.

As for 'bluescreen' filmmaking, the Japanese demonstrated with Casshern that it is possible to do it stylishly, but once again Hollywood seems to slip up by eliminating the grit that we need to create a believable environment. In the depth of the production they also rely too much on the visual quality, and forget that which makes us want to keep watching...plot and likeable characterisation. They even manage to waste the talent of one of my favourite comedians, Omid Djalili, reducing him to the typecast 'foreigner' of ambiguous origin.

I had been hugely disappointed by 'Hellboy' just before watching this, which may have clouded my ability to view it fairly. That said, I would say it's not appalling, and perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if watching with an open mind, but the plot holes are often horrible, the acting wooden, and by far and away the most redeeming feature of this film is the stunning visuals, which for me still lack the grittiness of the more industrial imagery of films like Casshern.

Rating: 6 / 10