Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, a 2004 alternate history and sci-fi/fantasy adventure amalgamation is one of those films that is best known for its visuals in a way similar to The Rocketeer and The Iron Giant, and, like those films, it maintains a bit of a cult following. As with Dick Tracy, The Phantom, The Shadow, and Sin City, the movie attempted to emulate the look of classic comics, and like The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, it borrowed heavily from creations of the past, especially Flash Gordon, film noir, and Captain America.
Unfortunately, also like the movies noted above, it lacked a compelling script, which probably accounted for its lackluster showing with audiences. For the majority of movie audiences, it remains an obscure, “nice-looking” picture that you may have tried on Netflix and probably given up on. But for those who count themselves fans, you now have a behind-the-scenes chronicle of the movie’s visuals, Sky Captain and the Art of Tomorrow, launching today and available here at Amazon. Take a look inside below.
The book is a lengthy chat narrated by the film’s co-creator and primary designer, Kevin Conran. Substantively it’s the equivalent of an episode of The Movies That Made Us. Readers will find an exhaustive supply of concept artwork and photographs of props used in the film. Absent are interviews with the actors, production heads, or other key creators. Conran discusses his influences, World War II imagery and Saturday movie serials. Here are some pages from the book:
The film was obviously an homage and love letter to the nostalgia of the past. Why don’t movies like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Tomorrowland grab modern audiences? Is it lack of interest in the era, or lack of a compelling story told in those worlds? Compare the award-winning works of Philip K. Dick and the adaptation of his alternate World War II story The Man in the High Castle and the answer points to storytelling over the ability of visuals to stand alone.
If something like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow gets its own “making of” book, what other movies should have had their own behind the scenes book by now? We’re only just recently seeing Flash Gordon and Escape from New York “making of” books, so how about The Last Starfighter and Tron? Big Trouble in Little China? How about Logan’s Run?
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg