By Alan Silverman
A new science fiction-adventure film uses computer-generated digital effects and scenery to re-create the look of a 1930's Saturday matinee. Alan Silverman spoke with co-star Angelina Jolie for this look at Sky Captain And The World of Tomorrow.
A little bit Flash Gordon some Indiana Jones and a lot of enthusiastic performances from a stellar cast combine to make Sky Captain And The World of Tomorro fly off the screen. Set in 1939, it stars two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law as the title character, a daring pilot trying to stop the evil machinations of Dr. Totenkopf.
Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow plays intrepid and determined ace reporter Polly Perkins; fellow Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie co-stars as Sky Captain's trusted comrade-in-arms Frankie in crisp military uniform, equally crisp British accent and a mysterious patch covering one eye.
Everything on screen from the amazing scenery to Dr. Totenkopf's marauding giant robots, Sky Captain's gutsy flying machines and Frankie's fleet of stratospheric hovering aircraft carriers is entirely computer generated. Angelina Jolie says it was an acting challenge to be part of the fantasy in this World of Tomorrow.
“I think as actors, we play 'make-believe' all of the time. We're used to a fake room on a fake set, so it was a bit strange but not as bad. I think Jude and Gwyneth had it worse because they things coming at them that they were freaking out about and I tended to have ships coming in behind me and things like that. (Movie Snippet) There was one moment when I was just sitting on a box. I wasn't in a plane. I wasn't anywhere. I was just sitting in this room full of 100 people and, with my accent and my eye patch, I had to be very cool sitting in my cardboard box pretending [that I was flying a plane],” she recalls. “At first I felt very silly and then I thought it's great to get back to what's fun and creative about this business and to try things that aren't safe . . . to be silly again and bold with choices. So it was nice for that. It was refreshing.”
For 29-year-old Jolie, Frankie joins a long and growing list of strong characters. After Sky Captain she played the jealous, vindictive and complex Olympias, mother of the title character, in director Oliver Stone's Alexander;" and she is preparing to portray Russian empress Catherine The Great, being directed by Sophia Coppola. Jolie does not accept the conventional Hollywood complaint of 'no good roles for women.'
“I've been very, very lucky. I have also found films that could be one way and I think you can work to make them more. We can always wish that there was more of something for different ethnicities, for men or for women; but I think we just all have to focus more on trying to get hold of a character and see if we can make it richer or deeper. I have been very lucky with the women I've been able to play.”
She adds that the bold vision of writer-director Kerry Conran and the risky nature of the project attracted her to take what is essentially a supporting role in Sky Captain.
“I think things are analyzed and criticized for how they do at the box office or whether they're reviewed this way. There are only a few great movies that are really pushing the [norm]: where things just don't feel safe. I just thought, as an artist, that it was something original and hadn't been done before. So it was kind of a bit of everybody going in and trying for something. I miss that spirit of things a lot. When you do films these days you often lose that sense of fun and adventure and 'let's try something that hasn't been done before.' So for that, just to be a part of it was exciting; but I did love my character.”
Sky Captain And The World of Tomorrow also features Giovanni Ribisi as the hero's engineering whiz sidekick; and filmmaker Kerry Conran resurrects Sir Laurence Olivier, melding dialog clips from several of the late actor's movies to create the image of Dr. Totenkopf.
Alan Silverman for the Voice Of America in Hollywood.