Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow

Comic books run the movie trade. They are a constant, and everyone’s trying to outdo each other. Van Helsing, Elektra, Constantine… I’m over it.

But Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow is a hoot.

Soon, you like the carbon copy. Be it The Strokes doing The Cars doing the Velvets, or Sky Captain doing Indiana Jones doing Buck Rogers — you buy the re-processed rotation of nostalgia. The great thing about Sky Captain is the minutiae, the air of a lovingly detailed and patient comic book.

Because it streamlines the action, the film is almost unconventionally old-fashioned. The wow-kazows don’t leave you feeling gored, and you don’t nit-pick the tidiness of each explosion. You get the joy. Sky Captain makes modern the surface of pulp without losing the wink.

The film is a blue screen for the actors. There’s nothing to distract us from them. Nothing is false, because everything is fake (digital, that is). And we aren’t sped from one beautiful image to the next. There’s a real sense of pace, and that helps the chemistry between Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.

If the film is a vase for sights and sounds, the leads are perfect. They’re gorgeous. (They bring to mind the headshots of Errol Flynn and Veronica Lake.) They also have a separate life from the absurdities around them: Dazed and kind of feckless, they look cynically surprised — just like the viewer, and good for the controlled chaos of the film.

The movie slipped the zeitgeist for the same reason that it works: It’s much too reverent. Today’s audience wants everything to be a climax. Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow is an artistic feat. A film that rediscovers the penny-dreadful is always ripe for rediscovery itself.

I like this movie.

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