[box cover]

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow may be the most elaborate love letter to 1930s adventure serials ever — a tale of flyboys, robots, reporters, lasers, rockets and monsters, all filmed with a lunatic attention to detail. Working with his production-designer brother and producer Jon Avnet, first-time director Kerry Conran spent millions on a weapons-grade geek-out, a propaganda poster come to life; it's packed with visual nods to everything from Max Fleischer's "Superman" cartoons to "King Kong," using every special-effect trick in the book to create a soft-focus, sepia-toned postcard from the 1930s. The story's as simple (and simple-minded) as a serial: Ace reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) and mercenary pilot Sky Captain (Jude Law) circle the globe in a customized P-40 Warhawk looking for the mysterious Dr. Totenkopf — a madman responsible for a series of flying-robot attacks on major cities. They're helped by a gum-smacking inventor sidekick (Giovanni Ribisi) and Capt. "Franky" Cook (Angelina Jolie), leader of an all-female squad of amphibious air commandos. The film's far from perfect: Sky Captain was shot on a giant bluescreen stage with minimal sets and props, and the unusual filmmaking technique leads to some sterile digital environments and low-energy work from Paltrow. When that lack of pep dovetails with Conran's dialogue — which is sweet and earnest but hardly screwball-comedy sharp — the movie drags, taking on a cool reserve that seems frankly at odds with the lurid conceit. But given the project's ambition, this feels like quibbling. Overall, Sky Captain indulges that inner kid who always wanted a single movie crammed with robots, airships and dinosaurs. Owing I'd imagine to its box-office flopitude, this is a single-disc set, albeit one bursting at the seams: There are two commentary tracks (one by Jon Avnet, one by the Conran brothers and their F/X team), a longish making-of documentary, an excellent "Art of the World of Tomorrow" featurette, Kerry Conran's original six-minute "Sky Captain" short, two deleted/alternate scenes, and a gag reel. Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English and Spanish subtitles, keep-case with snap-tabs.
M.E. Russell

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