Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Aaw, I hate when this happens. Bad flicks are a dime a dozen, but usually you smell them coming from a mile. What really hurts is when a movie you’ve been looking forward to for months turns out to be a big letdown. “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” looked like a can’t-miss treat, a retro-futuristic adventure distilling years of Golden Age pulp fiction, comic books and serials into a timeless thrill ride to rival the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” films. Alas, it was not meant to be.

The whole film was concocted through CGI, with the actors performing in front of a blue screen then being incorporated into artificially created backgrounds. This requires much suspension of disbelief on the audience’s part, but the story is not involving enough for us to ever forget we’re watching a movie.

Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow are usually charming (I loved them in The Talented Mr. Ripley), but they look almost sedated here. I don’t know, maybe it’s because they’re acting in front of damn blue screens with nothing to play off, or maybe it’s the dull exposition that makes up most of the dialogue. As for Angelina Jolie, she looks mighty sweet in Nick Fury regalia, but she’s on screen barely 10 minutes.

Writer-director Kerry Conran fills his movie to the brim with giant robots, amphibian planes and dinosaurs, but the plot is inconsequential and the characters are bland. There are a few amusing quips here and there, but most of the film feels lifeless. Even the action sequences are curiously unexciting. Robots attack and shit blows up, but there’s never any sense of danger or urgency. There’s literally no villain for our heroes to clash with, it’s just mindless machines that quickly grow boring.

Another big problem is the look of the film itself. The art direction and the costume design are great, but everything looks under-lit and washed out. What’s with the faded colors? How much cooler would it have been if everything was in Technicolor? I really wanted to love “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”, but it always seemed like it was keeping me at arm’s length, allowing me to admire it but not to get into it.