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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

SKY Captain and the World of Tomorrow is being heralded as a film that represents a trail-blazing moment in cinematic history.

With over 2,000 effects shots, the feature uses live action filmed against blue screen and fills in every frame digitally, after the completion of principal photography.

It took more than six years to make and represents a labour of love for its first time writer-director, Kerry Conran, who achieved it in collaboration with producer, Jon Avnet.

As Conran admits: "This film exists because of Jon Avnet's maverick spirit, his belief in me and his love for this project."

Although the film uses virtually no sets and no locations, Conran has used the latest technology in an attempt to immerse audiences in a breathtakingly detailed and lush, long-lost sci-fi world, where pulp fiction fantasies come to life.

It also features real-life actors and actresses, in the form of Jude Law, as Sky Captain, and Gwyneth Paltrow, as intrepid reporter, Polly Perkins, as they investigate a plot by a mad scientist to destroy the world, using robots.

Aiding them in this quest is Angelina Jolie's Franky Cook, commander of an all-female amphibious squadron, and technical genius Dex (Giovanni Ribisi), who has long been Sky Captain's right-hand man.

"It's unlike anything you've seen," predicts Avnet, who's been dubbed the 'godfather' of the epic. "There are crucial elements that set the film apart when I first saw it, and continue to make it quite unique on many levels."

And there's no denying that the film is quite unlike anything you've seen before.

Whether audiences will be impressed enough to turn it into a commercial hit, though, remains to be seen - although it certainly impressed American critics, who largely gave it the thumbs-up when it opened on September 17.

UK audiences can check it out on October 1.

US reaction

The word from America on the film was surprisingly strong, with the majority of critics finding something to praise.

The Chicago Tribune, for instance, wrote: "Drawing from a well of pulp fiction, film noir and comic book imagery - not to mention influences from The Wizard of Oz to Fritz Lang's Metropolis - Conran and crew evoke a highly stylized 1939."

While the New York Times opined: When Sky Captain remembers that storytelling and characters matter more than design and special effects, it charms as well as impresses."

The San Francisco Examiner declared that it 're-invents the idea of cinema as we know it, taking it into a brave new future while remaining refreshingly steeped in the past'.

And CNN described it as 'class-A eye candy'.

Strong, too, was the Houston Chronicle, which felt that 'half of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a film of breathtaking vision and craftsmanship, a work of art that both summarizes the early history of cinema and takes it brilliantly, shimmeringly forward. The other half is not'.

And Philadelphia Weekly stated that it's 'the must-see summer blockbuster of 1939, it's the new Far From Heaven - only this time for nerds instead of gay guys'.

But there were negatives, with the San Francisco Chronicle lamenting that 'Sky Captain never exceeds the level of a clever exercise'.

And the Washington Post writing it off as 'a $70 million novelty item'.

The Hollywood Report Card went one step further and disappointedly reported that 'though initially intriguing & intermittently appealing, the film never develops, and hides its most interesting character till the end when it's too late. Overall - bland'.

But the Hollywood Reporter found plenty to praise, writing that 'working against blue screens, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Angelina Jolie strike a confident balance between action-adventure archetypes and vulnerable romantics'.

And Popmatters rounds up this overview by stating that 'if the glorious surprise offered up by Wizard of Oz was depicting a world beyond material reality,the agreeable gimmick of Sky Captain is its imitation of what's come before'.

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