Most helpful critical review
An impressive achievement - a film with Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie which after 25 minutes we just want to end already...
on 14 March 2014
I was very disappointed by this film and I barely managed to finish watching it. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.
In an alternate history, in 1939, the zeppelin Hindenburg III arrives in New York City, mooring at the Empire State Building. A frightened scientist named Dr. Jorge Vargas (Julian Curry) makes arrangements for a package containing two vials to be delivered to a Dr. Walter Jennings (Trevor Baxter), then vanishes. Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow), a newspaper reporter for "The Chronicle", looks into the disappearances of Vargas and five other renowned scientists. Then suddenly an army of giant robots attacks New York City... Nothing more will be said about the story.
This film was an attempt at launching a new kind of SF sub-genre, the "diesel punk" (after the futuristic "cyber-punk" and the XIX century based "steam punk") with extravagant stories situated in the years 1918-1939. This kind of world already exists by the way, in the game system "Call of Cthulhu" and it is quite an interesting thing. Here however the attempt completely failed, not because the idea was bad, but because the execution was horrible.
The BIG problem with this thing is that it is B-O-R-I-N-G! I failed to get involved into the story, I couldn't care less about the main character (Sky Captain played by Jude Law), the mystery was hardly very mysterious, there was no credible villains (a pity because this film wasted one of the coolest names ever for a villain - Dr. Totenkopf!), action scenes were rather pathetic, etc. etc.
Even more incredibly the director chose for Gwyneth Paltrow a look which transformed this one of the most gorgeous women alive into a barely average chick... Angelina Jolie, even with an eye patch, looks way hotter, but her appearance is, to my considerable regret, very short.
This kind of action films with a brave hero and a gorgeous, clever girl, needs good dialogs and humour to be succesful (like in first "Indiana Jones" or in "Mummy"). In this film humour is mostly missing in action and there is may be a grand total of three good one liners, if that.
This kind of film is also supposed to end with a great dramatic finale in form of massive fireworks - but here the ending is a half-dysfunctional fire-cracker. After watching it I was all "Meh" - nothing more.
Bottom line, this film is a failure. Boring, mostly humourless, wasting three excellent actors and some good ideas, this is a serious let down and it VERY DESSERVEDLY bombed when released. My advice is to skip it entirely and if you really want to watch it, rent rather than buy.