[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sky-captain-world-of-tomorrow.jpg]]

-->''"This is Sky Captain. I'm on my way."''

''Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow'' is a 2004 movie [[GenreThrowback homage]] to the TwoFistedTales of the 1930's. The film follows the adventures of AcePilot 'Joe' Sullivan, known as [[TheRedBaron Sky Captain]] (Jude Law) and IntrepidReporter [[PluckyGirl Polly Perkins]] (Gwyneth Paltrow).

They begin investigating the affairs of the [[MadScientist mysterious German scientist]], Dr. Totenkopf, after his machines attack NewYorkCity, searching for ''something''. Further implicating Totenkopf is a string of kidnapped scientists, all of whom point back to Totenkopf's work...

The plot shamelessly uses the [[AwesomeButImpractical outrageous gadgets]] and cliches of the PulpMagazine and ComicBook genres, plus numerous {{shout out}}s to other media of the period. Filmed with live actors against computer-generated surroundings, the movie did not make enough money to offset its production costs, so a sequel is unlikely.
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!!The movie has the following AwesomeButImpractical machines:

* AirborneAircraftCarrier: Franky's heliocarrier, which serves as mobile recon outpost for the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy has a lot more of them, as seen in the end of the movie.
* AttackDrone: Radio-controlled ornithopters armed with [[MoreDakka multiple autocannons]].
* DrillTank: The giant [[ThisIsADrill drill machine]] in Totenkopf's uranium mine.
* FlyingCar: The hoversleds in Totenkopf's ElaborateUndergroundBase.
* [[HumongousMecha Humongous]] [[TinCanRobot Tin Can]] [[HumongousMecha Mecha]]: Giant bipedal robots armed with FrickinLaserBeams stomp through the streets of New York. They can [[FlyingBrick fly as well]].
* MilitaryMashupMachine: Sky Captain's Curtiss P-40 can change into a submersible. It also has the ability to project limpet mines and [[GrapplingHookGun grapnel-wires]].
* RobotAntennae: The giant robots and robotic flying machines all had antennae for receiving instructions.
* SchizoTech: A radio-imager drone sends back underwater pictures to Franky's heliocarrier. Also, zeppelins next to mecha, and [=UCAVs=].
* ShinyLookingSpaceships: Totenkopf's brobdingnagian RetroRocket.
* ShoulderCannon: The missile launcher of the GiantRobot guarding the underwater entrance to Dr. Totenkopf's island.
* SpiderTank: The crab robots guarding the underwater approaches to Totenkopf's [[IslandBase island]].
* TheSwarm: The [[CyberCyclops one-eyed]] Squid Robots that search the Flying Legion airbase, the radio-controlled [=UCAVs=] that engage Sky Captain shortly thereafter, and the horde of flying [[KillerRobot Killer Robots]] in the ElaborateUndergroundBase.
* TransformingMecha: Franky's Manta Squadron, [[CoolPlane Cool Planes]] that can transform in mid-dive into submersibles armed with [[MacrossMissileMassacre cluster-torpedoes]]. They also have an EjectionSeat with built-in JetPack, leading to a [[Awesome/{{Film}} Crowning Moment Of Awesome]] for Angelina Jolie.
* ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld: The Hindenburg III docks at the Empire State Building in the opening scene, though in reality the docking spire was inoperable from the beginning due to strong updrafts and the lack of a mooring point for the other end of an airship.

!!Other tropes include:

* AbsurdlyDedicatedWorker: Dr. Totenkopf's machines carry on his work of assembling a "Noah's Ark"-type rocket and loading animals on it despite [[spoiler:him having died 20 years prior]].
* ActionDressRip: Polly tears her skirt to run better during the NYC robot attack. But leaves on the heels....
* ActionGirl: Commander Francesca "Franky" Cook of the Royal Navy, who sports an EyepatchOfPower. She is also part of a LoveTriangle in the movie.
** There's also the MysteriousWoman, a [[HeWhoMustNotBeHeard silent]] but deadly woman who controls Totenkopf's machines and turns out to be a [[spoiler:RobotGirl]].
* AerialCanyonChase: The title character flies his fighter plane along the streets of New York just above ground level while trying to escape Dr. Totenkopf's robot ornithopters.
* AlternateHistory: There is a ''Hindenburg III'' zeppelin in the opening scene, which implies either that the first ''Hindenburg'' did not explode, or else its explosion was not an impediment to further airship construction.
** The entire movie is [[CaptainObvious obviously]] AlternateHistory. There were no HumongousMecha robots destroying the world in 1939, neither was there [[DieselPunk space travel, rayguns, or flying British naval squadrons]]. There are some subtler AlternateHistory implications though, such as the apparent absence of [[ThoseWackyNazis Nazi Germany]] and an American/British evacuation of Nanjing (which of course implies that Japan still annexed Manchuria and China).
* AnachronismStew
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: Spoofed. Joe Sullivan believes Polly Perkins deliberately sabotaged his plane in China while GoingForTheBigScoop. When they're trapped in a cave packed with dynamite that's about to explode, Joe looks her in the eyes and asks...if she really did cut his fuel line. Polly is understandably annoyed that they're going to spend their last moments on Earth discussing this point. [[spoiler:And on Totenkopf's island, she admits she did. A pissed off Joe then admits that he did sleep with Franky.]]
* ApologeticAttacker - PlayedWith: The note [[spoiler:Totenkopf leaves at his death chair]] reads "Forgive me", and there's indications he tried to shut down his [[spoiler:entire project, and it's implied his robot assassin/kidnapper rebelled when he tried to shut everything down]].
* BelligerentSexualTension: Polly and Joe bicker throughout the movie.
-->'''Joe:''' Could we just for once die without all this bickering?
* BedmateReveal: After an OutrunTheFireball moment, Polly wakes up naked in a bed next to an equally naked Joe. An embarrassed Polly tells him to turn around, which a grinning Joe does only to find he's also in bed with their guide, Kaji, who [[FanDisservice is also naked.]]
* BilingualDialogue: Polly can understand both written and spoken German.
* BillingDisplacement: A sterling example. Law and Paltrow are billed diagonally. On ''the same card,'' Jolie gets the "and" honor by being billed as "and Angelina Jolie". They thus manage a triple simultaneous diagonal bill where everyone gets a position of honor.
* BringIt: [[NoNameGiven The Mysterious Woman]] makes a gesture to Sky Captain before fighting him outside the rocket ship.
* BritsWithBattleships: ''Flying'' battleships.
* CameraObscurer: Polly Perkins spends much of the movie with only one frame left on her only roll of film, and wants to save it for a truly awesome photo. In the film's denouement, she decides to take a photo of [[spoiler:Joe Sullivan]], only for him to look at her and say "[[spoiler:Lenscap]]".
* CastingGag: [[spoiler: Totenkopf turns out to have been DeadAllAlong, [[FakeShemp just like his actor]] Sir Creator/LaurenceOlivier, who died 15 years before the movie was made.]]
* CatchPhrase: Joe (Sky Captain) says "Good boy, Dex" whenever his {{Sidekick}} Dex does something good.
* ChairReveal: Dr. Totenkopf. Only it turns out he's been [[spoiler:DeadAllAlong]].
* ChekhovsGun
** The two metal tubes that Polly Perkins received from Dr. Jennings.
** Dex also built Chekhov's Ray Gun and is seen chewing Chekhov's Gum.
* ChromaKey: The actors used only the most basic sets and props, with CGI backgrounds used in every shot. This was allegedly done for two reasons: One, the producers wanted to give the movie a "comic book" atmosphere, and two, the studio was too small to accommodate such large sets.
* CutAndPasteEnvironments - Toward the beginning of the movie, just after the robots attack Manhattan, Sky Captain lands at his base and drives his plane into a huge hangar. At the top of the doors of the hangar are these huge windows of 8x10 panes. In every window, some of the panes are broken. In every window, it's ''EXACTLY THE SAME PANES'' that are broken.
* CuttingTheGordianKnot - Polly and the door to Dr. Jenning's lab.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: Filmed in colour and desaturated, then resaturated again to make it more like a painting than a photorealistic movie.
* DieselPunk: With a healthy helping of [[NikolaTesla Tesla Punk]] and RaygunGothic, to boot.
* DisintegratorRay
** GadgeteerGenius Dex is shown testing a BuckRogers raygun that can burn a hole through solid metal with luminous rings of energy.
** To a lesser extent, the [[spoiler:superelectric field outside of Totenkopf's room that disintegrates anyone who steps on it, first stripping them to a skeleton, then pulverizing that to dust. An unfortunate no-name scientist finds this out the hard way]].
* TheDragon: Dr. Totenkopf's ActionGirl agent. A rather extreme case of [[spoiler:DragonTheirFeet]].
** [[spoiler: DragonAscendant]]
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt[=/=]UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: The [[spoiler:planet-colonizing rocketship]] seems benign, until it's revealed that its afterburners will [[spoiler:ignite the Earth's atmosphere.]]
* EurekaMoment: "Rana is a star!"
* EyepatchOfPower: Franky (Angelina Jolie's character)
* FakeShemp: LaurenceOlivier, via the magic of stock footage and CGI, [[VirtualGhost comes back to life]] as Dr. Totenkopf.
* TheFantasticTropeOfWonderousTitles: As a deliberate throwback.
* GenreThrowback: to 30's sci-fi and 40's-50's war fiction.
* GiantFlyer: The protagonists encounter giant prehistoric birds on Totenkopf's island.
* AGodAmI: Totenkopf, in the video that plays while his rocket is rising through the atmosphere. It plays a twisted version of the first few verses of Genesis, replacing him as God and him seeing that "Man was evil."
* GratuitousGerman: The German in this movie is often mangled.
** A particularly noticeable example is a button labeled with "Dringlichkeitsfreigabe", which then gets translated as "Emergency Release", while it actually means "Urgency Release". It should be "Notfallfreigabe/-abkopplung/-entriegelung/-freisetzung".
** The German newspaper headline about the robot invasion translates to ''"Very Big Metallc [sic!] Machines Steal Steal Reserves"''
* TheGrotesque: The sole survivor of Dr. Totenkopf's uranium mining and experiments.
* GunshipRescue. [[spoiler:An entire fleet of heliocarriers]] turns up to rescue the protagonists at the end, though they don't really need saving by that stage. And Dex has a BigDamnHeroes moment when he [[spoiler:arrives in a hoversled just in time to save Joe and Polly from the swarm of flying killer robots]].
%% HamAndCheese: Already on YMMV
* HerrDoktor: All the scientists are German and Austrian.
* {{Homage}}s
** The attack by giant bipedal robots is copied from the 1941 Superman cartoon "The Mechanical Monsters".
** Their laser sound-effects are the same as the Martian DisintegratorRay in the 1953 ''Film/{{The War of the Worlds|1953}}'' film; similarly Polly's phoned-in report on the attack uses lines lifted from the famous OrsonWelles radio broadcast.
** On seeing one of the robots, Dex mutters "{{Shazam}}!"
** The silhouette of Franchise/{{Godzilla}} can be seen in a newspaper from Japan.
** During an underwater sequence we see both the wreck of the {{Titanic}} and the ship from ''Film/KingKong'', complete with ape-holding cage. King Kong himself can be seen at the top of the Empire State Building during one shot with the robots in the streets.
** The flying robots on Totenkopf's island have the same chest controls as Commando Cody's JetPack.
** ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'' is seen playing in the cinema where Polly meets with one of the scientists, and the entire Totenkopf hologram head sequence is a massive homage to the ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'''s giant head scene (Captain Sky even mentions the film when the Hologram appears and starts speaking.)
* HostageForMacGuffin: When Dr. Totenkopf's thugs capture Polly Perkins in the uranium mine.
* HotScoop: Polly.
* HologramProjectionImperfection: As the protagonists approach Dr. Totenkopf's office a Tesla-type generator creates a HugeHolographicHead of Totenkopf that explains his motives and warns them to get out or die. Both the image and voice are distorted when powering up, highlighting the more primitive 1930's zeerust technology of the film. The imperfections also hint this is a case of TheTapeKnewYouWouldSayThat.
* HyperspaceArsenal: The many ''many'' things concealed in Joe's P-40 Warhawk. It's anyone's guess where the plane's builders found room to put the fuel and engine.
* {{Infodump}}: Dex and the [[ReluctantMadScientist scientists]] explain Totenkopf's entire plan (as well as mentioning an [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome offscreen escape where the majority of them got killed]]) in a single moment of exposition. Although not unusual in the ComicBooks on which the movie is based, the scene appears clumsy on screen.
* IntrepidReporter: Polly.
* IslandOfMystery: Totenkopf's IslandBase.
* ItIsBeyondSaving: Totenkopf's [[WellIntentionedExtremist motive]] in creating his World of Tomorrow (and destroying the old one in the process).
* ItsTheOnlyWay: Spoofed.
-->'''Sky Captain:''' "Is it safe?"
-->'''Dex:''' "Well, there's only one way to find out."
-->''(Sky Captain and Polly step across the [[DoorOfDoom booby-trapped threshold]], holding hands, in lock-step and are relieved to be unharmed)''
-->'''Dex:''' "...I meant throw something."
* JustifiedTitle: The CharacterNameAndTheNounPhrase title is obviously a reference to the retro-futuristic nature of the movie, but "Sky Captain" is the nickname of the main character, and the villain calls his scheme to [[spoiler:seed life on another planet]] the "World of Tomorrow".
* LetsSplitUpGang: Sky Captain, while in Dr. Totenkopf's abandoned uranium mine.
* LoisLane: While she doesn't have the myopic identity problems Lois had, she's definitely filling this role in the film as the no-nonsense female reporter determined to follow the hero to the end and get the story.
* MadScientistLaboratory: The laboratory of Dr. Walter Jennings (with mutated fetus and tiny elephant), and the room in [[TheShangriLa Shangri-La]] (shown in a deleted scene) where Totenkopf conducted experiments on radiation victims from his uranium mine.
* MeaningfulName: "Totenkopf" is German for "death's head." (Totenkopf wanted to destroy the world and create a new one out in space.) It also harkens back to Nazi Germany's SS "totenkopf" division that was in charge of the concentration camps.
** It's most likely an allusion to the fact that he appears as a HugeHolographicHead [[spoiler: and that he's actually been DeadAllAlong.]]
* MinorCrimeRevealsMajorPlot: Kidnapping scientists -> Plot to build a [[spoiler:spaceship that will destroy the Earth's atmosphere]].
* MisguidedMissile: Twice, both by Frankie and Sky Captain.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: [[spoiler:Totenkopf, realizing the error of his ways and unable to stop what he started (the rockets he's sending off the planet will destroy the Earth's atmosphere to escape its gravity), simply leaves a note on his corpse: "I'm sorry."]]
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Dr. Totenkopf ([[GratuitousGerman Death Head in German]]). Subverted, he's [[spoiler:DeadAllAlong]] and it is implied that he was rather a WellIntentionedExtremist. It's more commonly used by Germans as name for the bare skull. Hence the skull motif.
* NeverTrustATrailer: Angelina Jolie is in the movie for all of 15 minutes, but you'd think she was a main character.
* NoOSHACompliance: The walkways inside the rocket ship. They're barely wide enough to walk on, and have no railings. {{Justified}} in that [[spoiler: the "actual" Dr. Totenkopf is long dead, and his operation is being carried out automatically via robots, drones, and mechs]]. Obviously they would not bother with human safety hazards.
* NoodleIncident: Polly is visibly annoyed when fellow fliers (and [[LoveTriangle implied ex-lovers]]) Franky and Joe share an incomprehensible nostalgia moment.
-->'''Joe and Franky:''' PROTECT THE RABBITS!!! PROTECT THE RABBITS!!!
* OneBulletLeft: Polly is down to one shot left in her camera, so she's forced to forgo the chance to photograph the [[spoiler:lost kingdom of Shangri-La]], a [[spoiler:top-secret flying aircraft carrier]], a giant [[spoiler:prehistoric bird]], and [[spoiler:every creature on Earth being loaded two-by-two into a giant rocketship]]. In the end Polly passes up the Scoop of the Century for a photograph of [[spoiler:Joe]]... who [[CrowningMomentOfFunny promptly informs her]] she [[spoiler:left the lens cap on]]. [[note]]Except the point of view during the shot is facing Polly and the front of her camera, and the audience can clearly see the lens cap is ''not'' on. Though you could {{handwave}} this as Joe messing with her again.[[/note]]
* PercussivePrevention: Joe knocks out Polly to stop her from accompanying him on a one-way trip to [[spoiler:destroy Totenkopf's rocketship. It doesn't work.]]
* PlummetPerspective: Happens on at least three occasions.
* PracticalVoiceover: A radio announcer (along with a SpinningPaper montage) is used to show that the robot attack on New York is part of a worldwide phenomenon.
* PropheticNames: Totenkopf, literally "dead man's head" (e.g. skull) in German. Not only alluding to [[SigilSpam the skull symbol on his creations]], but [[spoiler:guess what you find him as. Well, still sorta... intact.]]
* PutDownYourGunAndStepAway: One of Dr. Totenkopf's {{Mooks}} tries this on Joe in the Tibetan uranium mine.
* PuttingOnTheReich: Dr. Totenkopf's emblem looks very much like NaziGermany's coat of arms, with a death's head in place of a swastika.
* RaygunGothic
* {{Reconstruction}}
* RedshirtArmy: The [[PrivateMilitaryContractors Flying Legion]] gets wiped out by an air raid, but Joe is only concerned about his missing buddy Dex. Additionally, Franky's troops.
* ReluctantMadScientist: The former members of Unit 11.
* RunningGag
** Polly and Joe's discussions about whether she cut his fuel line. As it turns out, she [[spoiler:did cut it]].
** Polly missing a shot with her camera, or having it not show up for any reason. (She's a reporter, this is very important.)
* TheShangriLa: Shangri-La itself, whose people were forced to work in Totenkopf's uranium mine.
* ShootOutTheLock: The title character throws an object and hits the control box for a door, causing the door to close.
* ShoutOut: '''By the dozen'''. Everything from ''Film/TheLandThatTimeForgot'', ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'', ''Film/TheNeverendingStory'', Apple's ''1984'' commercial, ''Film/StarWars Episode I'' and the anime film ''Anime/CastleInTheSky''.
** Some people view the movie as a SpiritualLicensee of ''CrimsonSkies.''
** Godzilla appears on one of the newspaper headlines in a "blink and you'll miss it" cameo
** In the scene where Sky Captain is flying back and forth down the street attacking the giant robots, in one shot the Empire State Building is framed in the background... with King Kong hanging from the top.
** "[[Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds They've reached Sixth Avenue. They've reached Fifth Avenue. They're a hundred yards away. Oh, my God.]]"
** Big slow-moving robots that are ImmuneToBullets and fly around casting ominous shadows and stealing things from baffled citizens? Seems to pay homage to this old {{Superman}} cartoon. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LEfzup0aNs]]
** The sound effects of the giant robots' lasers are the sounds of the Martian heat rays in ''Film/TheWarOfTheWorlds''.
* {{Sidekick}}: Dex, to Joe (Sky Captain). But there's a lot more to Dex then this, he may ''look'' like a skinny little nerd but he's [[TookALevelInBadass taken a level in badass]] and has matters well in hand when Joe finally arrives to 'rescue' him. To his credit Joe doesn't seem very surprised and just asks for a heads up on the plan.
* SittingDuck: The Flying Legion is caught on the ground by an air raid launched by Totenkopf's robot flyers.
* StrippedToTheBone: One of the escaping [[spoiler:scientists]] on Totenkopf's island gets skeletonised by a bolt of electricity from a [[NikolaTesla Tesla coil]].
* StylisticSuck: A couple of effects were CGI'ed to resemble early stop-motion effects from serials. Note: This does not apply to the film's overall [[{{Zeerust}} sepia-tone]] look, which is [[DoingItForTheArt quite elaborate]].
* SurpriseVehicle: Dex, in one of Totenkopf's hoversleds.
* ThatWasTheLastEntry: When the group finally gets to Totenkopf's office, they find his papers and discover that "the last entry in his journal was made on October 11, 1918", 20 years before the setting of the film. Shortly thereafter, they find [[spoiler:his mummified body]].
* ThereWasADoor: Inverted.
* TooAwesomeToUse: See OneBulletLeft.
* TraitorShot: Two of the guides look at each other while standing under Joe's plane as sinister music plays.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: A [[{{Mutants}} survivor of Totenkopf's experiments]] asks for one last favor: [[spoiler:to be killed]]. We never find out if Joe obliges, although his rather sad look after they've left Shangri-La implies that he did it.
* WhyWontYouDie: Invoked word-for-word when [[spoiler:TheDragon, beaten, revealed as a RobotGirl]], and left for dead at the villain's island, [[spoiler:sneaks into the rocketship to attack Joe one last time]].
* WouldHitAGirl: In a rare heroic/noble example, Joe knocks Polly out to keep her from needlessly putting her life in danger.
* WronskiFeint: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]]. It looks like Joe is doing this with the ornithopters chasing him out over the water, when actually he has every intention of actually crashing into the ocean. His plane is able to transform into a submersible mode!
* {{Zeerust}}: Basically the [[DoingItForTheArt whole point of the film]]. Influences include the futuristic designs of Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Lloyd and Hugh Ferriss.

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