Of all the things that I appreciate most about this movie is the way that it, in the best possible taste, refuses to become yet another cheap spoof on a genre movie. Nothing could be more tempting, and obviously the references to other pieces of sci-fi fluff abound, but the cuteness never gets out of hand, it remains tongue in cheek but never goes overboard. In a self-indulgent post-modern world this is not a given.
So, we get Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, The Day the World Ended, the silent Fritz Lang epic, Indiana Jones, we get Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow looking so much like Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake that it is uncanny, we get Metropolis and Lost Horizon, the whole history of 20th century pop culture, diffused by gentle irony, but never crass or vulgar. Rolled into one sublime dish of a film that looks like nothing ever did outside of a comics book.
Let me add this: I loathe CGI, the artificiality of it, when it strives to look naturalistic and offers no texture, no three-dimensionality. Here, CGI is an extreme means to an end, and first-time director Kerry Conran shapes his work with utter conviction, with subdued, dark colours, slightly blurry like in old, preserved celluloid, and every image is so richly saturated and aesthetically perfected that it makes your jaw drop.
And yet, 'Captain Sky and the World of Tomorrow' is not style without substance. No more so than any other action movie in history. The characters are nicely written, and I must say that I did not think either Law or Paltrow had it in them. Joe and Polly Perkins are not character parts, never aimed to be, but they have as much depth and more real emotion than the majority of action or sci-fi roles, just try and compare it to any of the 'Star Wars' characters, and this one wins out without even half-trying.
'Captain Sky' proved to be no box-office hit, but that does not detract from its abundant cinematic and narrative wealth.