6.1/10
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621 user 197 critic

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

After New York City receives a series of attacks from giant flying robots, a reporter teams up with a pilot in search of their origin, as well as the reason for the disappearances of famous scientists around the world.

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8 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dex
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Editor Paley
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Mysterious Woman
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Kaji
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Dr. Totenkopf (archive footage) (as Sir Laurence Olivier)
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Dr. Jennings
Julian Curry ...
Dr. Vargas
Peter Law ...
Dr. Kessler
Jon Rumney ...
German Scientist
Khan Bonfils ...
Creepy
Samta Gyatso ...
Scary
Louis Hilyer ...
Executive Officer

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Storyline

In 1939, an intrepid reporter in New York City makes a connection between the story she's covering -- of famous scientists suddenly disappearing around the world, and a recent attack on the city by giant robots. Determined to find the solution to these happenings, she seeks the help of her ex-boyfriend, the captain of a mercenary legion of pilots. The two are investigating the case when the robots attack the city again, though in a stroke of luck, Sky Captain's right-hand man is able to locate their source. They then set off on an adventure in search of the evil mastermind behind these schemes, who is bent on creating a utopia and destroying the current world. Written by Apster

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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The world will tremble this September! See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for sequences of stylized sci-fi violence and brief mild language | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

17 September 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The World of Tomorrow  »

Box Office

Budget:

$70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$15,580,278 (USA) (17 September 2004)

Gross:

$37,760,080 (USA) (17 December 2004)
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Technical Specs

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "hit list" shown near the beginning of the film shows the names of the Unit Eleven scientists to be: Dr. Otto von Funderburg, Dr. Matthias Hargett, Dr. Arler Kessler, Dr. Herbert Braun, Dr. S.L. Aufkäuser, Dr. Jorge Vargas, and Dr. Walter Jennings. See more »

Goofs

Joe constantly wears goggles while piloting his plane. In fact pilots of the era were trained to lower their goggles when going into combat to preclude glass or perspex slivers from bullet hits on their canopies from getting into their eyes. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hindenburg announcer: Attention. Please prepare for docking procedure.
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Crazy Credits

Laurence Olivier is given a major on-screen credit, despite only being in the film through archive footage and having another actor voice his character's lines. See more »

Connections

References Marathon Man (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Crystal Appears
by Herbert Stothart
Used by permission of EMI Feist Catalog Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Looks great and is a fun homage to the period but what it has in effects & design it lacks in script, characters, plot and humour
10 October 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In a 1940's of the future, scientists are mysteriously going missing and only plucky journalist Polly Perkins has a lead. Meeting with a scientist in a secret rendezvous, mere minutes before he disappears, she is horrified by the sudden appearance in New York of a horde of giant robots. Luckily Sky Captain Joe Sullivan comes to the rescue in his customised Spitfire and prevents the robots robbing the city's central generators. With further attacks around the globe, Sky Captain and his group team up with Polly to track down the source of the robot menace, uncover the plot involved and stop it before it is too late.

All the interviews around this film have talked up the visuals and the possibilities of making movies entirely on blue screen etc and, to be honest, the marketing behind the film reflects it really well because it is all about the visual style and effects with very little else. The film starts immediately with a really great visual feel that harks back to the old sci-fi serials of the 1930/40's where the future is based on the present with knobs on. The lighting and delivery is all fitting this period and it works pretty well on this level. The scale and nature of the effects are impressive, they are all retro and look great and only occasionally is it obvious that the actors are staring at things that aren't there. Of course after this we have problems, because looks enough aren't quite enough to make it all work. The period feel will make it a cult film with time but at the moment it is not enough to just sell me a computer generated yarn with no substance to it.

I suppose in a way the writing and delivery is all in keeping with the genre that it is homaging but this is a thin excuse for material that is slightly dull and lacks the twinkle and wit it really needed. Wooden acting and clunky dialogue can be fun if served up with the tongue in the cheek but that never really happens here to the degree it should. Thinks looked good at the start with Godzilla making an appearance on a Japanese newspaper but aside from this and a handful of other comic touches the film is played pretty straight – meaning we feel we should treat it so, something I found too hard to do. The dialogue is fun at times but is mostly as stiff as much of the delivery. The cast are not to blame because they are remote from the action, secondary to the visuals and trying to match the acting of the genre, which is traditionally wooden. I'm not totally sure that bringing back Olivier was a good idea but it was such a small part of the film that it didn't really matter and left me wondering why they bothered in the first place.

Law is boyishly handsome and works pretty well with the material, looking very British in his beautiful Spitfire. He has fun with his character and he at least seems to be in on the joke. Paltrow has some comic moments but mainly she plays it pretty straight and is a little dull. Ribisi is all at sea, he plays it straight and looks bad as a result. Jolie is a nice addition but has little time to make an impression – she never has a character and is really nothing more than a set of lips! Support from Gambon and Ling Bai is wasted and neither makes an impression – especially disappointing from Ling who is really the main baddie for the majority of the film. None of them are good enough to make the plot engaging or bring out characters in their genre clichés but they try their best and at least fit into the period quite well.

Overall this is eye candy but it is candy that will develop a cult following based on how well it captures those old serials and the scale of the visual designs and effects. Many viewers will lament that Conran didn't move away from his computer for longer and put more heart and wit into the script because this has little or no substance to it and, when backdrops are not stunning and robots are not stomping it can get dull (and does). Worth seeing for the effects and the visuals, this is a very expensive sci-fi serial that is fun but sadly lacks any substances, characters or real humour.


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