MOVIE REVIEW: "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (2004)

Republibot 3.0
Republibot 3.0's picture

Recently, “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” was playing down in St. Grissom, and as R2 and I both missed that film in it’s initial release, we decided to check it out. Enchanted by the thought of seeing a ‘new’(ish) Olivier flick, made only 15 years after he died!We knew it was a bomb, but we thought it might be an interesting and memoral bomb - like Blade Runner - and not a bland and pointlessly forgetable bomb - like Armed and Dangerous 2: Armed and Fabulous - so we figured it was a good way to blow an evening. Republibot 1.0 suspected we were up to something like this, so he refused to answer his phone, and we ended up taking our little pal Deadpan along with us. Deadpan insists on sitting on the asile, and I wouldn’t give him the seat because he was annoying us, so he ended up sitting directly behind me. By way of review, the following is a transcript of our reactions while watching it.

R2: “Oooh! Angelina Jolie is in this! That’ll make Deadpan happy.”
Republibot 3.0: “I don’t like her.”
R2: “You fear her unbridled sexuality.”
Republibot 3.0: “No, I really don’t mind if she dresses up like a horse or not, I just find her offensively insane.”
R2: “Good actress, though, you’ve got to admit that.”
Republibot 3.0: “I admit nothing. I’ve only seen her in fairly crappy films, and so, I might add, have you, you pretentious fop.”
R2: “You’re so stereotypical Mister Reich Brain.”
Republibot 3.0: “Schliessen sie ihren mund!”
R2: “Oh, go oppress someone else!”
Republibot 3.0: “Yeah, go vote Kerry while you’re at it.”
R2: “That’s low, even for you.”
Republibot 3.0: “Really? I thought it was topical since he was running for office the year this came out…Shutup, the movie’s starting.”
R2: “Nice music.”
Republibot 3.0: “Uh huh.”
R2: “Not quite period 30s, but pretty good just the same.
Republibot 3.0: “Are you capable of shutting up?”
R2: “Jude Law was that gigolo robot from AI?”
Republibot 3.0: “Yes. Shhhh.”
R2: “Gwyneth Paltrow – she’s quite talented.”
Republibot 3.0: “This isn’t some kind of parallel present, this is just set in 1939, you lied to me!”
R2: “I must have misunderstood the press material. Look at that dirigible mooring itself to the Empire State Building, that’s pretty impressive, isn’t it.”
Republibot 3.0: “Yeah, I have to admit that’s rather cool.”
Deadpan: “Me feel uncomfortable with two heap big phallic symbols in close proximity.”
R2 and Republibot 3.0: [In Unison] Shut up, back there!”
Deadpan: “Me feel homosexual panic coming on. Me want Leave Theater.”
R2: “Look, don’t make me send Republibot 3.0 back there; you remember what happened last time!”
Deadpan: “Me be good.”
Republibot 3.0: “Gee, it’s rather dark, isn’t it?
R2: “They’re setting a mood.”
Republibot 3.0: “Can they set a mood in a room that has electricity? Seriously, I can’t see crap, it’s so murky!”
R2: “Evidently it’s supposed to feel like an actual 1930s film, with somewhat aged and deteriorated film stock.”
Republibot 3.0: “I don’t see what that’s got to do with it – they made Zelig look old, but you could tell what was going on. If it’s too dim for me to see what’s going on, what good is it?”
Deadpan: “Are there like chicks in this film or something?”
R2 and Republibot 3.0: [In Unison] Shut up, back there!”
R2: “The cinematography is very 1930s, it’s quite impressive. I particularly like the 3-shot montages instead of simple cuts.”
Republibot 3.0: “This scene here where the Giant Flying Robot Men attack is rather derivative of the old Fleischer Brothers Superman Cartoon…uhm “Superman Vs. The Robots” or something like that.”
R2: “I agree, right down to using the robots’ shadows to show their transformation from aircraft to killer robot.”
Republibot 3.0: “Ripoff.”
R2: “Homage.”
Republibot 3.0: “Francophonic simpleton!”
R2: “Boorish automaton!”
Deadpan: “Shut up! Shut up! Me missing sweet, sweet carnage ‘cuz for you two talkee talkee.”
R2 and Republibot 3.0: [In Unison] “Sorry.”
Deadpan: “Me sore disappointed in this carnage. Where be all higgaldy piggaldy?”
R2: “Well, they’re evoking the period, and they didn’t show that kind of thing in the thirties.”
Deadpan: “That Bull Honky! King Kong stompee stompee all over natives with feet, make them squishy flat. Him yank train off tracks!”
Republibot 3.0: “He’s right. 30s movies were way more violent than this. I wonder why they’re not showing more devastation?”
R2: “Well, uhm…perhaps…”
Deadpan: “Me want extended nude scene like Jane swim nekked in 1934 pre-Hayes Code classic, Tarzan and His Mate. Me like nekked Maureen O’Sullian heap big.”
R2: “Sigh, yes, I guess you’re right, 30s movies were considerably more ribald than is commonly known.”
Republibot 3.0: “Maureen O’Sullivan was smoking’ hot. Did he just say ‘first world war?’”
R2:”Yes, why?”
Republibot 3.0: “The First World War wasn’t called that until after World War II, back in the ‘30s, it was called “The Great War.” Also, that telephone cord there is anachronistic.”
R2: “How so?”
Republibot 3.0: “It’s curly. Phone Cords were straight until the ‘60s.”
Deadpan : “Me see Godzilla!”
R2: “Well, that was unexpected. You saw him, though, didn’t you?”
Republibot 3.0: “Yeah, that was him.”
R2: “This cursing troubles me.”
Republibot 3.0: “Cursing troubles you?”
R2: “Only aesthetically. When Rhett Butler said “Damn” in Gone With the Wind in 1939, it was the first time a curse word have ever been uttered in an American film. All these ‘Oh my Gods’ and other mild profanities don’t fit with the milieu.”
Republibot 3.0: “They must’ve done it to escape a ‘G’ rating. That’s death at the box office.”
Deadpan: “Me bored.”
R2: “It is a bit slow.”
Republibot 3.0: “I know I’ve pointed this out already, but my God, it’s dark. Would it have hurt them to turn up the brightness a bit?”
Deadpan: “Shut up! They battling over Sky Captain’s secret island base!”
R2: “These shots are composed much better than the ones in the city.”
Republibot 3.0: “How does he fund all this?”
R2: “Huh?”
Republibot 3.0: “Well, this Sky Captain guy is maybe thirty, and he owns a private island and three or four dirigibles and a couple squadrons of P-40 Warhawks – where does the money come from?”
R2: “It’s a movie. Concentrate on the pretty planes with the flapping wings.”
Republibot 3.0: “They’re called ‘Ornithopters.’ They wouldn’t work in reality. Hm. The voice over newscaster a scene or three back said ‘the governments of the world must once again rely on Sky Captain and his Mercenary Air Force…”
R2: “It’s a movie, can’t you let it go?”
Republibot 3.0: “You know I can’t. I’m unrelentingly annoying. Another thing, if Sky Captain has his own private air force, how come he’s the only pilot flying?”
Deadpan : “Should look like fall of Hoth, should be lots of Warhawks and ore-nee-thopters smashy-boom-banging in air.”
R2: “I hadn’t noticed that, but it is kinda’ odd.”
Republibot 3.0: “You know, it bothers me when the cars drive in this movie – they’re too smooth, they don’t move like real cars, they move like CGI effect.”
R2: “That’s been distracting me a bit, too.”
Republibot 3.0: “And now were’ off to Nepal?”
R2: “Oooh! I like the traveling-over-a-map Montage! That’s a neat way they’re doing it here!”
Republibot 3.0: “Have you been enjoying the plot and the acting up to this point?”
R2: “To tell you the truth, there’s not much of a plot. Evil Scientist wants to destroy the world, down-and-out hero and his plucky ex-girlfriend sidekick wants to stop the Evil Scientist. The acting, really, is too good for the subject matter, too subtle, too nuanced. It needs to be less restrained, a bit more ‘out there.’ These are serious actors in a not-at-all serious story. Also, the romantic tension between Law and Paltrow is rather tedious.”
Deadpan: “Me bored. Me want see tt!”
R2 and Republibot 3.0: [In Unison] “Shut up, back there!”
Republibot 3.0: “So now we’re on the ground for some Indiana Jones-style exotic adventure. Oh, look, there’s our humorously ethnic sidekick.”
R2: “Must you be so dismissive of everything?”
Republibot 3.0: “This entire movie is a (groan) homage of an entire decade’s worth of film clichés, and you’re trying to tell me that it’s not derivative?”
R2: “No, I’m just saying you should enjoy it for what it is.”
Republibot 3.0 “Fine, whatever. That explosion in the mine would’ve killed them all. On the bright side, at least the film is brighter in the second half.”
R2: “Shangri’la! We’re in Shangri’la! What a delightful tribute to Frank Capra’s film “Lost Horizons!”
Republibot 3.0 “Now there’s a movie that genuinely was groundbreaking!”
R2: “For once I agree with you.”
Deadpan: “Me like High Lama’s tacit approval of promiscuity in Shangri’la society, theme completely missing from pointless Michael York 1970s musical remake with awful Burt Bacharach songs. ‘Answer with a question/question with an answer’ my ass! Me hatee heap big!”
R2 and Republibot 3.0: [in Unison] “Shut up, back there.”
Republibot 3.0: “They got all the way from New York to Tibet on one tank of gas? And in a Warhawk, it’d take a week or so, complete with maintenance stops to get that far.”
R2: “Let it go. Oooh! Look at that flying aircraft carrier dealie! Pretty!”
Republibot 3.0: “Wouldn’t work. Breaks too many rules of aerodynamics.”
R2: “It is *Just* a movie. It is *Just* supposed to look cool, it is not supposed to be plausible.”
Republibot 3.0: “It succeeds quite heroically in being implausible.”
Deadpan: “Lookee! Angelina Jolie! She‘s going to take her clothes off, right?”
R2 and Republibot 3.0: [in unison] “Shut up, back there!”
Deadpan: “I mean the only reason to put Angelina Jolie in a move like this is if she‘s going to take off her clothes. Why would you spend money to get her in a movie like this if she‘s not going get naked or kiss a chick, or get naked and kiss a chick at the same time…”
R2: “Don’t make me send Republibot 3.0 back there!”
Deadpan: “Me thinkee Gwenneth Paltrow and Angelina will…”
R2: “Go do something about him, will you?”
Republibot 3.0: “Why do I have to do it?”
R2: “Because he respects you.”
Republibot 3.0: “No he doesn’t!”
R2: “Look, just go do it will you?”
Republibot 3.0: “I find it odd that you’re constantly going on about free expression and social freedom and the tyranny of conventional morality and all that kind of crap, but as soon as Mr. Deadpan there gets all torqued up and starts breathing heavy and humping the windows like Prince or something, it’s always ‘oh, Republibot 3.0, you need to reign him in for propriety’s sake!’”
R2: “Just go do it.”
Deadpan: “Me think they leave out profanity put in chicks kissing and still get away with no ‘G’ rating.”
Right: [Sighs] “Shut up! I’m coming back there!”
Deadpan: “Me want sex and drugs and loud swing music fast cars and girls in bikinis and whacking people with sticks! Me want Kari Whurer in that m…
Republibot 3.0: “Be Quiet!”
Deadpan: “…ovie with all the paint…”
Republibot 3.0: “That’s it: WHAM!” [fight ensues]
R2: “Keep it down back there!”
[time passes]
Republibot 3.0: [Nursing a nasty cut over his eye] “Ok, that’s all taken care of.”
R2: “What did you do to him?”
Republibot 3.0: “suffice to say he’s ruminating about that hideous O’Donnell woman.”
R2: “Ew! That’s inhuman!”
Republibot 3.0: “Yeah she is! I‘m not even convinced she‘s a vertebrate. He’ll think twice before pulling that crap on us again. So what did I miss?”
R2: “Poorly-lit underwater battle scene that was so murky it could have come out of SeaQuest, and now they’re…”
Republibot 3.0: “On Kong Island!”
R2: “Yep, another homage.”
Republibot 3.0: “Kinda’ cool.”
R2: “Oh, look, it’s Sir Lawrence Olivier.”
Republibot 3.0: “You know, he was occasionally gay.”
R2: “Well, he grew up in a town called ‘Dorking’ so that’s not terribly surprising.”
Republibot 3.0: “Why Olivier, do you think?”
R2: “Why not him?”
Republibot 3.0: “But, I mean, rather than limiting themselves to a couple lines recycled from some old movie, they could have gotten a real performance from a live actor…or even a more recently dead one…”
R2: “I admit I don’t get it. It is a bit ‘Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.’”
Republibot 3.0: “Or Fred Astaire dancing with the Vacuum Cleaner. So since we’re in the middle of another action sequence here, I’ll ask you something that’s been bothering me.”
R2: “Yes?”
Republibot 3.0: “Why did they make this a period picture?”
R2: “Why not?”
Republibot 3.0: “No, I mean, this movie is an experiment, yes? Whole new technology in making film – a watershed experience for all concerned, it’s all new, right?”
R2: “Oh, I get it. So if it’s all new, why did they spend so much time making it look virtually indistinguishable from something that’s very old, and kinda’ crappy?”
Republibot 3.0: “Right. Any theories?”
R2: “Hm. Well, with all new technologies in film, they look really dated and old in just a couple years…”
Republibot 3.0: “Ah, so rather than let it become dated looking, he decided to pre-date it, so to speak?”
R2: “Yeah. I think so.”
Republibot 3.0: “Hm. That follows, I guess.”
R2: “Look! Big Rocket!”
Republibot 3.0: “Wouldn’t work.”
R2: “Hm. I’m not sure about the Big Rocket.”
Republibot 3.0: “It wouldn’t work.”
R2: “Yeah, but it seems vaguely wrong. All the hommages in this movie have been for 30s films, but that looks like something out of a George Pal flick from the 50s.”
Republibot 3.0: “Welp, that was the climax of the film.”
R2: “Shhh- here comes the last line…”
Republibot 3.0, R2 & Deadpan: [in unison] “Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
Deadpan: “Wait, that it? Angelina Jolie get top billing in movie she only in for 8 minutes and no show any skin? What the fu…”
Republibot 3.0: “You don’t want me to have to make you ruminate about Hillary Clinton, do you?”
Deadpan: [meekly] “Me be good.”
Republibot 3.0: “So. Thoughts?”
R2: “A worthy experiment in innovative filmmaking technology, with no real substantive quibbles from me, though most of the acting was stagey and somewhat…I dunno…not ‘forced’, but perhaps ‘canned?’”
Republibot 3.0: “I thought it was an interesting experiment that ultimately fails because of unimpressive acting, a brand new movie that we already feel we’ve sat through a dozen times, merely adequate direction, and an annoyingly dark palette.”
Deadpan: “Me no likeee!
R2 and Republibot 3.0: [In unison] “Oh, it was not anywhere near that bad!”
Deadpan: “No one ever listen to me.”


Yeah, actually, I think they will. There's nothing offensive here, no illicit sex, no questionable morality, it's milder than an 80s Bond Film, the bad guys are clearly bad, the good guys are clearly good, what's not to like? There's no moral or political reason anyone wouldn't like this movie. It's all kinda' dull, though.