There's something refreshing about this and I think it's in the conceptual
audacity. It's a futuristic period yarn which no one has claimed to be an
oxymoron. It's high adventure with a hero who's as daring as he is dashing
and it's a romantic fantasy in the generic mold from "The African Queen" to
"Six Days and Seven Nights." Its world is from a design table and its
figures owe much to Terry Gilliam's inventions, like his articulated and
menacing machines in "Time Bandits."
Kerry Conran's direction creates and sustains a style not unlike one mined by
the Coen brothers through many a film.
All of these powerful creative influences provide predecessor and artistic
pedigree but its story uses all of it in a successful effort to intrigue us
with a breathtaking story all its own. It's starkly derivative while forging
thrills in new world of inventive make-believe.
Everything and everyone is larger than life. Scientists that once worked on
a mysterious project headed by Tottenkopf ("deadhead"?) disappear while an
army of mechanized monsters tread and tear up the streets of Manhattan in
search of something, but what? Reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) of
the Chronicle sets out in search of the explanation and, when old beau,
ace aviator Sky Captain (Jude Law) turns his acey skills toward capping the
metal monstrosities and clearing up the mystery, she sees her excellent
chance for a scoop. Never mind that these two have a prior history and that
it's also a chance to heal some emotional wounds.
There's a hokum factor behind it, sure. But an oversophisticated approach to
this kind of material will only distract you from the sources of its huge
accomplishment as bold entertainment. And, the superb cast does nothing but
justice to its style and fashion. This is a project that bears its own
Jude Law is as dashing as Errol Flynn ever was in his aviator leathers.
Luminous Paltrow is in perfect tune with her damsel who is almost never in
distress who, when Sky nearly inadvertently kills her is more angered than
numbed by fear. Jolie has nothing but fun with her one-eyed heroic
assertiveness, even if her interest in Sky takes second seat to the
competition in Sky's back seat. She's got her war toys and an army of
stalwart men with which to make do.
The seamless visual concepts are smashingly conveyed by Director of
Photography Eric Adkins, with soft focus idealizing some scenes with a
mythological aura then switching to wire sharp detail for the harsh,
mechanistic weaponry as dreamed up by Production Designer Kevin Conran. The
result is a painterly richness. A huge visual effects team was supervised by
Tim Alexander. A bravura performance was had by all!
~~ Jules Brenner