Shot entirely in front of a bluescreen, Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow was one of the few movies in the early 2000's to be ahead of its time in attempting something visually very different. Produced and starring Jude Law, the film was a throwback to the old adventure and sci-fi serials.
Sky Captain may have been a flop at the box-office when it was released in 2004 but it received predominantly positive reviews and, looking back, it's not only a hundred times better than Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, which came out a full four years later, it's a surprisingly good film in its own right. Paying homage to the likes of War Of The Worlds, Buck Rogers and many others, this was clearly made by a fan of old movies for fans of old movies as it's not only packed with clever in-jokes and references but it has that old-fashioned yet timeless quality to it. The reason this movie works and something like The Phantom doesn't is the focus on exciting, larger-than-life action sequences, instantly likeable characters and cool iconography everywhere from big robots to plane submarines, metal-melting guns and Laurence Olivier holograms.
The story sees legendary pilot hero Sky Captain (Jude Law) and curious reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) investigate the sudden appearance (and disappearance) of giant automatons that have been invading the city stealing generators, leaving behind chaos and destruction. Certain scientists have also been targeted by a mysterious hitman and the Captain's trusted friend Dex (Giovanni Ribisi) has been captured so our heroes definitely have their hands full. The film opens in a Gotham City-style metropolis then the adventure takes us to Shangri-La, a secret base in the clouds, underwater, in the jungle, a space-age Bond villain-style lair, you've got dinosaurs, robots, all kinds of crazy things: it's a fun-packed retro feast that those willing to jump onboard such a nostalgia ride will enjoy.
Sky Captain is admittedly not for everyone but this is an underrated gem that deserved better and, although the fact it even exists is comforting, one would have liked to see a proper franchise grow from it. This is the Indiana Jones for the 21st century so before you go see the next old man Indy flick give this one a go, it might surprise you.
A modern vintage.