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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

JUDE LAW, Gwyneth Paltrow Angelina Jolie star in this stylish and moody Paramount film, which is novel because of the innovative backdrop and a storyline that is comic book in nature.

The director, Kerry Conran, obviously has a lot of nostalgia for the America of the 1930s and has accomplished the entire feel with computer generated effects, sets and props that have been superimposed on a blue screen along with a diffused, sepia-tinted look — the monochromatic appearance, brown and white with just a hint of colour — is dazzling in its own way.

Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an intrepid Chronicle reporter, always after a different story — something like Lois Lane in "Superman." She is working on a story about the disappearance of some of the world's most famous and valuable scientists. She has a very caring editor who would like her to abandon this as it is turning out to be more dangerous than anticipated. But Polly won't give up. One day, she is in downtown Manhattan when the place is overrun by huge marauding, metal robots smashing everything in sight.

Aghast, Polly follows these trouble makers dodging between giant stomping feet and takes as many pictures as she can.

These scenes of the Manhattan of the 1930s, is pretty stunning in their recreation of buildings and shops. This is when Sky Captain aka hero aviator Joe Sullivan (Jude Law — with plastered hair and a square- jawed demeanour) is called in for help. He manages to stop these monsters by putting a spoke in one of them. Joe also happens to be the ex-flame of Polly, who is still mad with him about the break-up.

But that does not stop her from latching on to him for her story and she goes with him to get to the bottom of this strange hostile invasion.

In a weird way these metal monsters are tied to the disappearance of scientists, the link to which happens to be the headquarters of Dr Totenkopf in Nepal, a character played by Lawrence Olivier — only he never comes physically but as photographs and as a 3-D hologram.

In the process of finding the secret hiding place of the evil scientist, Joe enlists the help of Captain Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie, with a dashing eye patch) who mans a fantastic sky station. The path to the hideout is filled with dangers, including metal monsters, flying reptiles and Dr Totenkopf's side-kick, a female invincible robot (Bai Ling) flying around in skin-tight clothes and a swishing robe. Just when you think all is lost, good triumphs over the evil and the world is rescued once again from total annihilation.

Kerry Conran does not try to show his prowess over futuristic slickness — rather, he has synergised the brooding wonder of the best of comic books and today's world of digital special effects.

It is a heady cocktail of technological wizardry, excellent art direction and the deft, seamless capture of the 1930s and that is probably the real triumph of a film such as this.

CHITRA MAHESH

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