First and foremost I feel it necessary to confess my affiliation. My name is Frank Wilkins and I'm a classic sci-fi addict. I say this not so much to profess my love of the genre but to announce my familiarity with the amazement and wonder that come from the imagination of such sci-fi trailblazers as Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen. Though too young to have seen most of the classics from this genre in their original runs, thanks to VHS and DVD technology I've wallowed in their legacy for most of my cognizant years. Though usually a sure death sentence, my yearlong anticipation of the release of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow just paid huge dividends. Writer/director Kerry Conran successfully borrowed the imagination and creativity of yesteryear to create a piece of art with its own exclusive fabric and texture. Ironically, it took today's technology to create what Alien invasion films of the '30s and '40s always wanted to be.

The actors were shot almost entirely on green-screen soundstages and then electronically composited into stunning art-deco environments. From the streets of New York City to spacious hangars, and retro-rocketships, the audience is transported, via the handiwork of Conran's Mac, back to a re-engineered, almost iconic environment.

The film opens in the heart of 1939's New York City where reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is covering the story of a group of missing scientists. As if that isn't enough of a story, the world's cities are under attack by thousands of rogue, flying robots and odd metal flying machines with flapping wings. We learn that the robots are working for a mysterious man named Totenkopf who is attempting to pilfer the world's generators and fossil fuel refineries that will aid him in a sinister plan that is gradually revealed as the story progresses.

Polly is scooped up from a certain death in the ruinous streets of Manhattan by a WWII-era fighter plane piloted by the titular character (Jude Law) that is apparently the head of the government's special expeditionary force charged with extinguishing alien attacks. We learn that Polly and Sky Captain have a past romantic history that works quite nicely as a character development thread that gives the story one of its romance angles.

Polly and Sky Captain conclude that whoever is responsible for the missing scientists is also a suspect in the alien invasion. Their investigation takes them all over the world where they encounter various and sundry scoundrels, aliens, and sinister accomplices working for Totenkopf in his plan to conquer the world. Despite his storybook flying abilities, even Sky Captain needs assistance from time to time. Enter Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie), the sexy leather-clad heroine who has a knack for showing up just in the nick of time. Costume designer Kevin Conran says her costume is an homage to artists Wally Wood and Al Williamson who drew fantastic space opera characters back in the '50s. Except for her eye patch that was added by Conran for "no reason whatsoever" except that he thought it would look "cool and sexy." Nice decision, by the way. The eye patch tops off the image of one of the most memorable heroines ever to grace the genre. Never mind the fact that Jolie is one of only a handful of actresses with enough effeminate gallantry to steal a movie with her preceding reputation alone.

There's so much style, delicious atmosphere and captivating story in Sky Captain that anyone is sure to find something intriguing. Gwyneth Paltrow's standout performance alone, delivered with an attitude reminiscent of some of Katherine Hepburn's best work, is reason enough to not miss this film.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen 1.85:1

Subtitles: Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: DTS 6.1 Surround Sound

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; gag reel; special effects featurette; animation featurette; original short featurette.

* Commentaries:
o With Producer John Avnet
o With writer/director Kerry Conran, Production Designer Kevin Conran, animation supervisor Steve Yamamoto, and visual effects supervisor Darin Hollings
* Featurettes:
o Brave New World - Chapter 1
o Brave New World - Chapter 2
o The Art of World of Tomorrow
o The Original Six-minute Short
* Deleted Scenes:
o Totenkopf's Torture Room
o The Conveyor Belt
* Gag Reel
* Trailers:
o Alfie
o The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
o Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
o Without A Paddle

Number of discs: 1

Packaging: Keepcase