Australian Council on Children and the Media

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8s, PG to 13.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  • a review of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 February 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the filmu2019s continuous comic book violence and portrayal of scary beasts, the film is not recommended for children under the age of eight years. While some young boys may be attracted by the giant robots and special effects, they may find the storyline uninteresting.
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance may still be required for some children in this age group, due to the level of violence.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 should be ok to see this movie without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Medium level violence, Mature themes
Length 106 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an intrepid female reporter investigating the mysterious disappearance of six of the world’s leading scientists. After being mysteriously summonsed to Radio Hall, Polly learns that Dr. Totenkopf, an eccentric scientist who has not been seen for the past thirty years is the mastermind responsible for the disappearances. Before Polly is able to gain further insight, an air raid is sounded as a fleet of giant ninety foot flying robots land in Manhattan trampling through the city streets and crushing everything in their path. It is at this point that Joe Sullivan Sky Captain (Jude Law) a mercenary aviator with a P-40 Warhawk is called in to defend the city against the giant robots. Joe manages to disable one of the giant robots with a magnetic bomb, and the remaining robots retreat. In retaliation, a flock of giant bird-like robots attack and destroy Joe’s air base fortress, but not before Joe’s offsider techno wizard Dex Dearborn uncovers Dr. Totenkopf’s secrete base located somewhere near Nepal.

Joe “Sky Captain” and Polly head for Nepal in Joe’s P-40, and after encountering adventure in the mystical Shangri-La they pinpoint Dr. Totenkopf’s secret base on an uncharted Asian island. The pair set off for the island, but along the way the P-40 runs out of fuel and is forced to land on a British airstrip. In command of the airstrip is the fearless and very British Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie) who offers the resources of her all female amphibious squadron to hunt down Dr. Totenkopf. With her help, Sky Captain and Polly set out to infiltrate Totenkopf’s Island fortress and save the world.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Unrealistic comic book violence is employed throughout the entire film, with most of the violence being between robotic villains and humans.

Children could be at risk of concluding that violence is an acceptable means of resolving conflict as the hero and heroine are very attractive, the violence is almost always successful, and has no real life consequences.

Violent scenes included:

  • cars are crushed and buildings and city streets are demolished (although there are no fatalities)
  • Sky Captain is thrown through the air, and punched and kicked numerous times without receiving a single cut or bruise
  • a more serious and threatening scene involves a human villain holding a large knife to Polly’s throat, threatening to cut her throat if Sky Captain does not meet the villain’s demands.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children under five could be frightened by some of the above mentioned scenes and by the following:

  • buildings exploding in balls of flame, rockets exploding, entire mountains exploding.
  • giant ninety-foot robots demolishing city streets and crushing and throwing cars around as if toys.
  • the giant robots have anaconda-like tentacles that ensnare and carry off human victims
  • giant flying bat-like robots fire laser beams and bolts of lightning
  • Titan-like underwater robots are fitted with cannons, multiple bombs and torpedoes.
  • a number of scenes involving giant mutated animals with some resembling a cross between known animals and dinosaurs
  • other very threatening giant animals one of which resembles the flying Fell Beast from Lord of the Rings
  • a man whose face and body had been grotesquely mutated through radiation poisoning; he asks Sky Captain to kill him.
  • a scientist is fried by electrocution—his flesh is burnt off, leaving only the bones behind
  • an evil female villain who resembles a ninja is presented in a sinister manner, and performs many violent acts.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Due to the comic book nature of the scary visual images, most children between the ages of eight and thirteen years should be able to interpret the scary and threatening visual images presented in this film as non-realistic. The dull, colourless, sepia manner in which the film was produced should emphasise the non-realistic nature of scary images. However, some in this age group may still be disturbed by the level of violence.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children over the age of thirteen years should be able to cope with the content of this film.

Sexual references

There were no sexual references in this movie.

Nudity and sexual activity

One scene involved Sky Captain and Polly waking up in bed, both naked with only the tops of their shoulders revealed. This occurred after they were involved in an explosion with their clothes being removed as a result of radiation contamination. The scene was presented in a comical light-hearted manner.

The film contains some mild sensuality in the form of Angelina Jolie wearing a tight fitting black leather flight suit.

Use of substances

There was no use of substances in this movie.

Coarse language

There was no coarse language in this movie.

In a nutshell

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a classic good versus evil saving-the-world pulp fantasy.

Values presented in the film that parents may wish to encourage include friendship, loyalty, endurance through adversity, equal gender roles.

Parents may wish to discuss the film’s continuous use of violence to resolve conflict, the non-realistic nature in which the violence was presented, and associated lack of real life consequences.

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