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Movie Review

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for sequences of stylized sci-fi violence and brief mild language

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Families, Adults
Sci-Fi Action Adventure
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Featuring: Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Casey Affleck, Bai Ling
Director: Kerry Conran
Producer: Jon Avnet, Sadie Frost, Jude Law, Marsha Oglesby
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“Join the Resistance”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Famous scientists around the world have mysteriously disappeared and Chronicle reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) along with ace aviator Sky Captain (Jude Law) are on the investigation. Risking their lives as they travel to exotic places around world, can the fearless duo stop Dr. Totenkopf, the evil mastermind behind a plot to destroy the Earth? Aided by Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie), commander of an all-female amphibious squadron, and technical genius Dex (Giovanni Ribisi), Polly and Sky Captain may be our planet’s only hope.”

Sitting in the front row with a bag of popcorn on his lap, the young boy is unable to eat. He sits, eyes wide with wonder, as he literally experiences our hero storming through the villain’s evil snare, rescuing the lovely girl reporter and saving all mankind from extinction. Now, that’s entertainment!

“Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow” is a beautiful, eerily nostalgic glide through the wonderland of true Saturday afternoon matinee serial adventure. Even if you were way too young to have been a part of this glorious childhood ritual of days gone by, you will know exactly how it felt to be riveted in your theater seat as the valiant Sky Captain (Jude Law at his swash-buckling best) rescues Polly Perkins (a determined, courageous Gwyneth Paltrow) and the rest of the world from the evil Dr. Totenkopf (played by Laurence Olivier, who though he died in 1989 is seen here through old shots recycled into this new film) the mysterious mastermind behind a plot to destroy the Earth.

No hero is an island and Sky Captain, or Joe as his close friends like to call him, is aided by his best pals Dex (Giovanni Ribisi who just happens to be a technical genius) and beautiful Frankie Cook (an absolutely competent eye-patched Angelina Jolie) who is the commander of an all female squadron of amphibious fighters. The Captain has a secret “thing” for iron willed reporter Polly, and she for him, but much to the audience’s delight neither one seems to know it. They banter back and forth through the movie as in the best of the rat-a-tat dialogue between male and female in classics like “The Front Page” of 1940.

Copyright, Paramount Pictures

New York is being bombarded by mysterious giant robots and it seems the English, French and German population has a few mysterious killer robots of their own. The world puts a call out for Sky Captain to eradicate them of these evil Art Deco colossus! Meanwhile the world’s top scientists have been disappearing and Polly’s nose for news has found they are all from a secret circle pulled together before World War II known as “Unit 11.”

Polly and Sky Captain track down a Dr. Jennings who has tipped off Polly that he will be the next to go. They wind up in his “Frankenstein-esque” office/lab only to find he is dead and an equally mysterious dragon-lady lurking around the file cabinets. While our hero fights off this black capped predator, Polly pockets a couple of sinister looking vials and later is caught red handed with them and is told if the wicked Dr. Totenkopf gets his hands on them, the countdown to the end of the world will begin! …And, of course, these strange vials do end up in Dr. Totenkopf’s hands.

Golly jeepers! The plot thickens when New York is again besieged by large silver bird-robots and while Sky Captain and Polly are fighting them off in the Captain’s gadget laden fighter plane, Dex is kidnapped by menacing spaghetti armed robots.

Through exciting air fight and undersea battle sequences with amphibious robots, through thrilling pitfalls and twists, Sky Captain, Frankie, Dex and of course newswoman Polly solve the mystery, uncover Dr. Totenkopf’s hidden city, and with just 10 minutes left on the ticking clock, save the remaining scientists and the entire world!

The buzz is that writer/director Kerry Conrad spent 10 years creating this film on his computer. I just hope it won’t take him that long to do a sequel!

The PG rating is appropriate. I would caution parents that this film is for kids 10 and up. Little ones may be scared by the giant robots and fast paced, stylized violence of the fighter sequences. Even though the robots of all kinds are all sci-fi type Art Deco, young minds will not be able to differentiate between real and computer generated. There is only one utterance of “da**” in this film and all other mild language is of the “Shazaam” type explicative of the 1930 and 1940 serial adventures. This movie remained innocent and squeaky clean with no nudity or sex. There are references to Moses and the animals going into the arc two-by-two. The vials that are a key factor in the evil Dr.’s destruction of the world are called an “Adam and Eve” type of concoction stewed up by the scientists, against their will of course. I didn’t find these references repulsive, as the characters viewed this as a sick dream of the evil Dr. Totenkopf’s and righted all wrongs in the end, giving the respect back to God and us as His creation that no man has the right to tamper with.

Christian themes abound, as is common of these idealized versions of sci-fi fantasies of the 1930’s. The hero is gallant and above any kind of unrighteous act. He treats women with awe and respect. The friendships go beyond helping each other out to willing to give their lives for one another. There is a definite difference between evil and good, which is refreshing in this day of super heroes who are just as evil as the bad guy, blurring the line between good and bad. I was just thrilled to see a hero that can be used as a modern day role model for young and old alike, even though Kerry Conrad had to go back in time to retrieve him.

“Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow” was done in luscious, dreamy, sepia toned cinematography that is reminiscent of “The Day The Earth Stood Still” mixed with a little of “The Colossus of New York” and the dreamy glowing camera work of “Shanghai Express.” The actors were right on the money for the type of characters they portrayed. The musical score was breathtaking the action heart stopping. This beautifully crafted adventure had it all. We defied the end of the world, found romance, laughed in the face of danger and did it all in less than two hours. It wowed me completely!

Violence: Moderate Profanity: Minor Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer Comments
Positive—…What an excellent combination of adventure, romance and friendship! If only more movies were made that were this much fun. Highly recommended.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
Peter Rhebergen, age 44
Positive—A science fiction set in a post World War I future. Where Great Britain is a major world power. The heroes must stop an apocalyptic type end of the world, with an antithetical biblical end. Comic-bookish, but very realistic. As a SF, a fun movie overall.

Critical remarks: Parental Guidance (PG) is a fair rating. Some mild violence, mostly action. The antithetical biblical end is based in Noah’s flood story. Has one scene where a person is dying of radiation poisoning requests euthanasia. It is only suggested that it was done, it is really left to one’s imagination. There is also a suggested nude scene, again left to one’s imagination. Sexual immorality not being condoned. But the movie does have present the issues of sexual immorality and lying. The story line touches on romance, but doesn’t promote it. The objections I stated here may be beyond small children noticing. But could be more obvious to teens or adults.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
Paul E. Schippnick, age 56
Positive—We took our 7 yr old son to see this film and glad we did. We were able to talk about how hiding the truth from another leads to problems and how things end differently when God makes plans vs when man tries to act as God. The big thing we struggled with was explaining about a request euthanasia. Overall, wonderful experience.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
Gloria, age 37
Neutral—I took my kids to see Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow including my nine year-old son who is a very sensitive little boy and cares deeply about what is appropriate and what is not. So after sitting through almost two hours of computer generated (CG) action and adventure, I asked him what he thought. He replied that there were some parts of the movie that he didn’t know about. He thought they might be inappropriate. I asked what they were and he responded that they said “Oh my G-d and the “D” word a few times.” The only other part he was unsure of was when the two main characters and their associate ended up in a big bed with no clothes on. It is interesting what little kids pick up on. The scene he mentioned was pretty innocent.

The characters were last seen fleeing from an exploding radioactive cave and then awake in a plush room covered up to their chins in blankets. It is explained to them that their clothes were contaminated and had to be burned. No nudity was shown, just suggested. In the course of the movie I was never embarrassed or overly alarmed at what my kids were seeing on the screen. As for a critical review of the movie, I can only say that it falls under the “Chewing Gum for the Brain,” category of films. The graphics were amazing and the old time “space opera” feel was reminiscent of the Disney film “Rocketeer” but it was a lot tamer in the violence department and lacked any real romantic theme.

The acting was fair considering the entire movie was filmed using blue-screen; Almost everything seen in the movie besides the human actors is CG. The biggest attraction for this film is that it is a new type of computer generated film. It was enjoyable, but it evoked no real emotional or intellectual response other than “cool effects.”
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
Dan Wood, age 43
Positive—With the exception of mild cussing and the “nude” scene (which doesn’t imply sex; rather it implies that the main characters and their Tibetan guide were sleeping in the same bed and their clothes were burned due to radiation poisoning), the film was pretty cool. I liked the special effects and that “old movie” look to the film.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
Shannon H., age 23
Positive—Nice show. It reminds me of something a 1950’s director would have put together, if they had access to our modern movie technology. I thought they could have picked a better leading lady than Gwyneth Paltrow though …but don’t ask me who.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
Loren S., age 32
Negative—My husband was really looking forward to seeing this movie because 1) it was an action movie; and 2) because of the old-fashioned 40’s feel mix with the futuristic feel. We were both really bored through the whole movie, though. I couldn’t even keep up with the plot; it just seemed so random. The only good thing was that there was nothing offensive. Maybe kids would like this movie, but I’m thinking even they might get bored!
My Ratings: [Good/2]
Jamie, age 25
Comments from young people
Negative—…this was probably the dumbest film I have ever seen! There are a lot of plot holes. The acting isn’t good, and I just didn’t like it. The special effects were too many! It looked like they were in a video game, and after a while it got so annoying!! Don’t waste your money on this. Go get something like “Napoleon Dynamite.”
My Ratings: [Good/2]
Rachel, age 12
Positive—This movie is amazing. It is pretty clean, and lets you travel into a fun world you can’t imagine. The action is probably to much for younger kids, but for teens and parents this movie offers a fun night out. Me, my brother and my dad went to see this movie together, and had a wonderful time together. I recommend this movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
Adam, age 14
Neutral—I went to see this movie with my mom and next-door neighbor. It was a real thriller, but there were a few unexpected scenes that were gruesome and frightening such as a man electrocuted and dematerialized into a crumbled skeleton and a man who had been the subject of biological experimentation. Near the end, the main actors discovered the villain who had been dead and decomposing for thirty years. Also, there was a scene where a female robot was struck in the face by a light saber which exposed the mechanical organs inside her head. Although they used some mild language, it was brief and not terribly offensive. Use caution.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/10]
Dylan, age 4
Positive—I went to see this film on opening day (surprisingly enough, the theater was almost completely empty) and I enjoyed it a lot. The fact that almost the entire film was computer-generated only enhanced my enjoyment. At times, the CG effects looked fake (i.e the robots attack at the beginning), but most of the time they were awesome. Good morals sprinkled throughout, such as self-sacrifice. There are some interesting biblical references and the bad guy seems to be wanted to play God, but good overcomes evil completely. The good guy doesn’t sleep with the good girl (although in one scene they do wake up to find themselves naked in a bed, but nothing is seen and it was quite funny). There was a lot of sci-fi action violence, but nothing beyond that of Star Wars, in fact this was tamer that SW. I recommend this film to anyone over 13 who enjoys a good science fiction or action film.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
Positive—A great realistic grapple of fun comedy and suspense. It is a great thing. Sexuality: one kiss!! Low on profanity. As much violence as Star Wars I. So stay away from Team America: World Police.”
My Ratings: [Good/5]
Matt, age 9
Positive—This move was great. There were some minor things such as a slowly dying victim asking to be killed so that it would be put out of its misery (but it was needed to show our villain’s evil). They also depicted a man being electrocuted an turned into a skeleton, although it was not graphic. My seven year old sister saw it with me and was scared at parts, but she loved it overall. There are some bad parts, fortunately, the good WAY outdoes the bad. They just don’t make movies like this anymore. You know, with the whole cocky good guys, independent love interests, computer geeks, evil scientists and doomsday devices. The effects are awesome but they aren’t a crutch. It’s ultimately a fun kid movie that suits an older audience.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
Justin Dobies, age 14
Positive—…It had a unique touch which made it different from other sci-fi movies. The muted colors gave it the flowing glow of the 1930s. And the futuristic flair created “Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow” to be a magnificent rush of adventure and mystery, romance and imagination. Since I’m into Sci-Fi, I enjoyed it immensely. I rate it from a scale of 1 (worst)—10 (best), to be a 9.3.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
Calligraphy Jesseal, age 15
Positive—This movie was good in special effects, storyline, and makeup. It didn’t have very many swear words, but there is a crude comment on a women’s breasts. There is no sex, but three characters (one of them a woman) were shown sleeping in one bed. The lead character also has a hard time with women, and it is implied that he cheated on one of them. But with all objectionable material you will probably enjoy this movie. My mom loved it. Also, there is the issue of humanity being killed because it is evil. Man took it into his own hands to deal out justice. But God said “Justice shall be mine.” A study of Revelation is in order.
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
Raphael, age 11
Negative—I went to see “Sky Captain” on the day it came out, When I saw the previews I thought it might be a good movie, I was wrong. The reason the movie was stupid to me was because they mixed the 1930s with futuristic stuff, I’m not really into that. The only offensive thing in the movie was the language, there was only 2 uses of the “D” word that I recall, there’s no sex/nudity, drugs and the violence was a bit on the cartoonish side. The movie had a good plot and all but I just couldn’t stick with it, That’s why I gave it a 1 ½.
My Ratings: [Average/1½]
Benjamin, age 13
Positive—This movie is a technological and visual masterpiece! I promise you that you have never seen visuals or experienced battle sequences like the ones in “Sky Captain.” The underwater and the “city” battle sequences are among the best sequences that I have seen in film since the original “Star Wars” movies came out. The 1930’s flair throughout the movie is what initially got me interested in the film from the start, and director Kerry Conran didn’t let down. The old-style storyline contains all of the elements of a classic, although it is a bit unoriginal. The “Calling Sky Captain” sequence at the beginning sent chills down my spine as it harkens back to the old days of Superman and Batman. Although I wasn’t alive back in that time period, I watch the films with admiration in the fact that they helped shape modern Hollywood movies, although the movies now-a-days are extremely different.

OK, with all of the positive stuff said, I must admit that the acting by some of the characters was less than pleasing, particularly Gwyneth Paltrow in her role as Polly. The fact that she so looks the role of Polly does not negate the fact that she cannot act the part. Angelina Jolie was admirable, but not particularly convincing in her role. The rest of the cast was great, with Jude Law topping them all!

From a Christian perspective, this movie had little to no objectionable material, with only 1 use of the d-word, and a scene in which there are 3 people in a bed nude (none shown), but the scene was innocent, and they are nude for a perfectly good reason (nothing sexual). Overall, you won’t leave this movie feeling any smarter or biblically smarter than when you came in, but it is a thrill ride…
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
Anthony E. Aguilar III, age 17
Neutral—This movie was not offensive to me, but there were three profanity moments that I can recall. I do not believe it was the most impressive made movie, but there were a few laughs and mysterious scenes along the way. If you want to see this movie, go ahead and take your kids, it’s quite appropriate in that sense. The acting was not so bad, but I view this movie as “neutral” because it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t fantastic either.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3½]
Bridgett Naes, age 14
Negative—I went to see this film with my mom and dad and have never seen a worse movie. This kind of movie is definitely more for the comic book readers. Very 1940s and very hard to grasp what’s going on. What you would expect to be great acting is weak and boring. I recommend this film for people who want to waste their money.
My Ratings: [Good/1]
Jordan Groff, age 13
Movie Critics
…director Kerry Conran has managed to combine state-of-the-art technology with classic filmmaking from the ’30s and ’40s—and it works, splendidly, for a unique spin… The film thus serves as a testament to bravery, honor and devotion—and to Christian love…
Annabelle Robertson, Crosswalk
…a nifty action adventure with a dynamic visual style and less objectionable material than even those Indy flicks…
Bob Smithouser, Plugged In
…a clever, masterfully executed melange of human and computer action, past and present, and a material world filtered through imagination… perfect blend of excitement and artistry…
Steve Persall, St. Petersburg Times
…When “Sky Captain” remembers that storytelling and characters matter more than design and special effects, it charms as well as impresses…
Stephen Holden, New York Times
…hugely imaginative and immaculately crafted…
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…in concentrating on the film’s visual splendor, Conran has skimped some on the adventure story…
Glenn Whipp, L.A. Daily News