The line around the theater was easily two hundred yards long. There was no way that all these people were going to make it in to see the screening of this Geeks most anticipated film of the year: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow! But it didn’t seem to matter, the crowd was happy and excited. I’ve been to many such screenings, and it never fails that half of the people there are only in line because they want to see a train wreck for free, (see Alien vs. Predator). Not so with this film. There was not a single person expecting this film to be bad, or even mildly disappointing. In fact, I found myself concerned that people were holding this movie in such high expectations that it could never deliver the goods.
Before I move on, let me simply get this out of the way. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow delivered on every single promise the previews could make, and then some. The film is stunning to behold. Sky Captain is the reason why the medium of film was created, to create wonderous and exciting worlds. But there is more to this movie than great effects and exciting action.
I must admit that your friendly neighborhood Geek has a soft spot for the era and style of storytelling that Kerry Conran captures. I have always loved the Pulp / Dime novels tales of the 1930s and 40s. I love listening to Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater. I go out of my way to find recordings of the Flash Gordon serials. In high school I would set my alarm clock for 2 am knowing that a small AM station played a broadcast of The Shadow every morning. The tales, while simple, were exciting and never failed to deliver feelings of awe and wonderment. Sky Captain revived those feelings within me that I thought had long been lost in my adult life. It was like the imaginative child within me, the one who saw Star Wars or Indiana Jones for the first time all those years ago had been awakened from a dreamless sleep. I know I wasn’t the only person who felt this way in that darkened theater. From all sides I heard people gasping, laughing, sighing, clapping, and mumbling to themselves. It didn’t matter the age. Kids would gasp and hold onto their parents or big sibling when Sky Captain faced terrible peril, only to be reassured with a warm “see” when he pulled up just in time; although the adults themselves were awed of how he managed yet another act of daring doe!
Kerry Conran obviously did his homework and knows the era he is taking the audience to. I found myself catching so many homage’s to storytelling pioneers of the past that I lost count. And, I have no shame in admitting this, I shook with glee when I saw the EXACT same robots from the classic Max Fleischer short: Superman and the Mechanical Menace cartoon. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one, as a certain newsman extrodinaire was giggling right next to me! In fact, rare did the moment go by that someone within my group wasn’t cheering or “yea’ing” at a scene or line.
The actors perfectly captured the soul of the film. Dangers are all to real within the World of Tomorrow! But, regardless of the certain doom that our heroes must face, they do so with a twinkle in their eye and a grin that would melt even the coldest heart. Jude Law’s Sky Captain plays to the audience with his charm and wit without ever breaking the wall. You never once feel that he is hamming to the crowd. Paltrow brings Polly Perkins to life with such grace, charm, and spunkiness that you’d swear that Gwyneth was channeling Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster’s Lois Lane! Angelia Jolie is perfect as the commanding and stunning Captain “Franky” Cook, and trust me when I say, be prepared to cheer when she… Giovanni Ribisi is the perfect techie sidekick, Dex.
The lights came up as the credits began to roll. I saw grandparents holding their grandchildren both with stars in their eyes. The kids being opened to a world of wonder and awe, the older generation remembering what it was like to spend a Saturday matinee in an era they thought was long gone. We need more films that remind us that the world is a wondrous place. See this film, see it now. In fact, go over and over again. Take as many friends as you can. Take a small child. Take your older, jaded parents or grandparent.
The world truly is better somewhere over the rainbow…