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Okay, is this retro enough to
make people overlook the weak
plot and lousy acting?!?

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Hollywood, you aren't making it easy to be a geek, these days.  With mediocre films such as Van Helsing, Catwoman, I, Robot and Alien vs. Predator, this hasn't been a good year for the pocket-protected.  We buy the DVD box sets, we risk getting our asses kicked for wearing nerdy T-Shirts and we do our part to stop overpopulation whenever we stay up for three days straight playing D&D or the Lord of the Rings' edition of Trivial Pursuit with our all male friends.  But if you, Hollywood, keep taking us for granted, we just may decide against purchasing that $30,000 genuine Stormtrooper outfit worn by an extra in the 1997 Special Edition version of Return of the Jedi, and instead move out of our parent's basement, find a girlfriend and use our super geek power to petition for the greater good, not just to demand a second season of Wonderfalls.   

Do you really want that Hollywood?  Do you?!?  Or would you rather keep us locked away with our widescreen HDTV's and Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD collections?  Because we're getting damn sick of getting no respect.  We're no longer content being the Rodney Dangerfield punchline of social groups.  We're only geeks because you gave us something worth getting geeky about (did you really think this came naturally for us?).  If you keep sending this lukewarm stuff our way, counting on our opening weekend super geek dollars, we may instead invest in contact lenses to get a date and a speech therapist to help us stop enunciating our words like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.  Hell, we may even skip a step and simply date a speech therapist!  And then what will you  have?!?  No one gullible enough to pay for your geeky movies, that's for sure! 

So what's up with this Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow bubbling tub of vile disappointment?  Why are you taking our ridiculed community for granted, yet again?  Do you think you're LensCrafters?  Do you honestly think you can slap every sci-fi film ever made together into a poorly directed CG mess and we're gonna lap it up like pimply dogs in goggles?  I'm not so sure you'll get us, this time, Hollywood (unless you have some sort of free Oxy promotion). 

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is flatter than Gwyneth Paltrow's chest (and everyone knows that a geek's imagination has very high standards) and even flatter than her teleprompter acting in this film.   You think you have us because the movie has robots and spaceships and superheroes?  Take a look at the box-office returns of Catwoman.  Check out that second Tomb Raider film you shat upon the public.  You know what we did during weekend # 2 of Alien vs. Predator?  We stayed home and watched the Alien Director's Cut DVD.  Fool us once, Hollywood...

And we'll probably fall for it twice.

And that's the reason this film is being released.  We had a lot of hope for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.  Not to mention, most of us already paid our September rent money to mom and dad and needed a good excuse to keep our internet accounts active until October 1st, so we could hang out in online forums and think of clever ways to belittle anyone and everyone who dares to have an opinion different from our own.

We had heard a lot of positive word of mouth about this film.  People we trusted said it would be a lot of fun.  Harry Knowles, the king of online geeks, was drooling over this one in a way he hadn't drooled since initially going rabid over Ferris Bueller vs. Godzilla.   Oh, and there is the fact that a room in the film is numbered 1138.  Like THX-1138.  Get it, you powerful Hollywood elite, you?  The number's based on the title of George Lucas's first film!  Unfortunately, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow isn't memorable enough to base itself on George Lucas's first fart. 

This movie has all of the action and none of the heart (or plot, for that matter).  It's like a fake orgasm, without the benefit of real sex.  It starts out looking a lot like Dick Tracy meets The Rocketeer meets the early Superman serials.  That'll get a few rave reviews from critics so bored with merely being entertained, that anything even slightly off the visual beaten path will have them doing cartwheels.  Then some giant robots invade and it turns into a shot-for-shot rip-off of The Iron Giant.  At least you picked good movies to steal from.

Not to miss out on "borrowing" from every movie that any geek's ever dueled to the death over, there are numerous nods to The Empire Strikes Back (c'mon, Angelina Jolie's character IS Lando Calrissian, and Dr. Totenkopf's jungle IS Dagobah meets Jurassic Park), Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Fellowship of the Ring and even The Phantom Menace.  Mysterious Woman (Bai Ling) IS Darth Maul, right down to the double lightsaber-ish thingie and the two-fingered gesture to "c'mon and fight."  The only difference between her and Maul is the fact that Darth Maul was interesting.  Mysterious Woman, name and all, is bland.

And that's the gist of it.  Sky Captain spends so much time paying tribute to superior movies, while trying to keep its audience enamored with its conglomeration of all things sci-fi and adventure; it never finds time to create its own identity.  Sure, geeks around the world will find it amusing to see a cameo from that monster from the swamps of Dagobah, but where is something entirely new that will draw any of us into this film?  What makes this movie unique?  Absolutely nothing.  This movie is so rehashed and recycled; The World of Tomorrow feels like yesterday's news. 

And why, Hollywood, why do you continue to waste great actors on your petty dribble?  You had Jude Law, Giovanni Ribisi, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, and you still couldn't get a decent performance?  Shame, shame, shame.  Maybe if you hadn't given Gwyneth lines such as, when the Sky Captain's plain goes underwater, "we're underwater!" she could have done something with her performance.  Then again, the entire team was acting against friggin' blue screen.  The amount of CG in this movie makes Attack of the Clones look old-school. 

But that was just another gimmick to grab us geeks by the nuts and squeeze them until we screamed "Frodo," wasn't it, Hollywood? 

Film the entire picture in a single room and impress us with your technical razzle-dazzle.  Sucks for you that this 100% Computer Generated approach gives the film no depth, just style.  Never once does the movie draw us in.  Never once do we feel like we're there.  Never once, Hollywood, do you make us care.  And, never once, not one single time, do you elicit a cheer.  That, Hollywood, is a death sentence.  

These are cookie-cutter characters placed inside a sci-fi collage.  A kaleidoscope of characters from far better films.  They don't engage us.  They don't make us feel.  They're just there, doing things we've seen done a thousand times before.  In comparison, Hayden Christensen, playing Anakin Skywalker, emotes like Peter O'Toole playing Henry II in The Lion in Winter.

The funny thing is, most of us won't hate this movie.  It's the cinematic equivalent of background music.  It's harmless, pre-packaged, committee-created fluff (created, in most part, by a one-man committee).  Sort of like a Tickle Me Elmo doll, or a can of Bud Light.  It's not as enjoyable as any random "making of" special, featuring the Indiana Jones or Star Wars' films, but it's not as bad as The Fast and the Furious.  It's just there. 

Next time Kerry Conran, the talent behind this picture (he actually does have some talent; there's no denying the lighting in the film is incredible), writes a screenplay, recommend that he do it while not jerking off over his favorite film by George Lucas.  Next time Kerry Conran directs a film, recommend that he do it in the real world, not in front of a blue screen.  Spielberg and Lucas worked on location.  Conran's film just doesn't work. 

Hollywood, the geeks are listening, the geeks are watching, and the geeks are about to stand up and demand a refund!

Agree? Disagree? Have questions?  Comments?  Email this critic at


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