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The Rocketeer

The Rocketeer (1991)

tomatometer

61

Average Rating: 5.9/10
Reviews Counted: 57
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 22

An action-packed, if anachronistic, look back at pulp matinee serials, The Rocketeer may ring hollow with viewers expecting more than simple fun and gee-whiz special effects.

50

Average Rating: 5.4/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 5

An action-packed, if anachronistic, look back at pulp matinee serials, The Rocketeer may ring hollow with viewers expecting more than simple fun and gee-whiz special effects.

audience

65

liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 56,558

My Rating

Movie Info

After getting his start as a visual effects artist on the original Star Wars trilogy, Spielberg protege Joe Johnston found success as a director with his debut film, the blockbuster family adventure Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. For his sophomore outing, Johnston helmed this action-adventurer, set in 1930s Hollywood and in the spirit of old pulp comics and adventure serials, and co-adapted from the David Stevens graphic novel by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo. Bill Campbell stars as Cliff Secord, an

Jul 17, 2001

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All Critics (57) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (22) | DVD (24)

A piece of blandly enthusiastic, B-movie pulp.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This $40 million adventure fantasy puts a shiny polish on familiar elements: airborne hero, damsel in distress, Nazi villains, 1930s Hollywood glamor, and dazzling special effects.

April 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The whole thing is good-natured enough, but increasingly mechanical.

April 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Neat idea, peachy visuals, but there ain't much else to grip the imagination.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Plenty of energy has gone into making this a bustling, visually clever film with an amusing late-1930's stylishness, but the purpose of such effort is uncertain.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is awash in all kinds of surprises that are too juicy to reveal.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A charming adventure tale, in the spirit of 1930's serials, The Rocketeer is a fun ride.

January 29, 2012 Full Review Source: IGN DVD
IGN DVD

One of Disney's most underrated films, and I can't for the life of me figure out why, unless it's the absence of a big-name star.

December 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A charmer in its gee-whiz, irony-light resuscitation of the movie serials of the '30s. [Blu-ray]

December 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

While The Rocketeer never crashes, it's a bumpy ride of cartoonish characters, a flimsy plot and an overall sense of letdown.

December 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Views

It's not as dark or as edgy as Tim Burton's Batman films, but it's still cleaner and more digestible. It's not a deep story, but it's full of fun nostalgia and action.

December 20, 2011 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

A beautifully directed, high-flyin' production, teeming with all sorts of classic Hollywood encounters and bizarre comic book touches...Connelly is mesmerizing -- a stupendous act of casting that elevates the room temperature of the picture.

June 20, 2011 Full Review Source: BrianOrndorf.com
BrianOrndorf.com

Almost never takes thrilling flight.

June 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

More Deco-era style than substance -- but fun.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Energetic, but the script is routine.

July 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

The result is a movie that looks nice and moves along efficiently, but offers little reason for anyone to watch.

April 18, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Truer to the old school Saturday matinee spirit than any modern film this side of Indiana Jones

September 10, 2005
Zap2it.com

The Rocketeer is a throwback to when movie heroes weren't burdened by irony or existential angst.

August 8, 2005 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Headache inducing superhero nonsense.

May 26, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

An overlooked classic that is alive with the heroics and nostalgia of big-studio era Hollywood.

December 19, 2003
KFOR Channel 4 News

Wonderful comic book movie.

July 6, 2003
Sun Newspapers of Cleveland

Audience Reviews for The Rocketeer

I can't help but love this movie. It's pure fun and a classic action/adventure movie. Anyone who enjoys Indiana Jones will undoubtedly enjoy this as well. Also, this is basically the framework that Joe Johnston used for Captain America. It's just a really creative way to go about making a superhero/pulp movie. The characterization is great. Billy Campbell does a good job and you really care for him and his character. Timothy Dalton does his best evil Erroll Flynn here and it's one of his best performances IMO. The visuals, pacing, story and directing are all appropriately stylized to the 30s atmosphere they were going for. It's endlessly re-watchable and one of my favorite live-action Disney movies.
January 13, 2014
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

The Rocketeer fits into that early 90's 'They obviously spent a lot of money on it but not quite enough' category. That said, it's got a lot going for it and the parts that have aged haven't aged that badly. There are lots of plot holes, nonsensical happenings and things that just don't add up but nothing that can't be forgiven for being silly fun. The one big thing I would change if I could would be swapping Bill Campbell for Bruce Campbell. That would have been very cool and at least worth another star.
September 20, 2013
SirPant

Super Reviewer

There's definitely something magical about this graphic novel adaptation from Disney. The setting and premise alone can make anyone curious about the adventures of a performer turned superhero, and having it be in the thirties only adds to its nostalgia and intensity. The poster alone put many butts into the seats, as its classic and sleek design made the film look bigger and more akin to steampunk than anything prior. The film itself was not the masterwork that was expected from fans, partly because many aspects of the film were made family friendly, and the lead character is pretty dopey. Besides that the villains are secret Nazis, who are of course trying to take over the world. Having clichéd villains doesn't make the film insufferable exactly, but their maniacal laughter and over-the-top execution made a lot of scenes cornball instead of kickass. The film also toys with history, but doesn't try to be authentic or entertaining with its portrayal of Howard Hughes. It's obvious why fans are calling for a reboot of this box office failure, because there are some interesting aspects to the film, but the original never quite hits the right chord. The main problem is that the hero is always unsure of himself, always getting himself into trouble or running from people, but never taking proper initiative to become a hero. If we're speaking plainly, everyone expected a rough and tumble superhero, because Nazis are the biggest and the baddest villains in history. The story is more about Cliff (Campbell) trying to get his girlfriend back than him saving the world. This is definitely more of a family flick than an adventure movie, and therein lies the simplistic problem. The casting really wasn't horrible either, because Timothy Dalton, Jennifer Connelly, and even Bill Campbell were well picked. It's the essence of the film that is off, and I would be ecstatic if someone gave this another run to make it the more mature picture it deserves to be.
August 29, 2013
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

"It wasn't lies, Jenny. It was acting."

The Rocketeer, seen in 2012, is understandably a little cheesy and a little old-fashioned. But, in a good way. In 1991, something as simple as a small-town guy with a jet-pack still sounded like an idea exciting enough to make a movie about, and a pretty enjoyable one, at that.

Billy Campbell (Cliff) is likable as a young pilot, desperate to make his mark on the world and show his girl (Jennifer Connelly, at the height of her amazing beauty), that he's a man who's going places. He stumbles onto a rocket-pack that's being pursued by all sorts unsavory characters, and the entire town and his girlfriend end up getting caught between the FBI, gangsters, shady actors, and even more unsavory characters as Cliff tries to save the day and get his girl back.

The Rocketeer is basically a moderately fun action-adventure family movie that won't blow any minds or drop any jaws these days, but it's definitely good for a viewing. Especially for Jennifer Connelly fans, because wow, she's impossibly lovely in this one.

It's nice to be reminded that once, all you needed to be a hero was a jet-pack, a solid right punch, a girl you loved, and a desire to do the right thing.
May 30, 2012
lewiskendell

Super Reviewer

    1. Howard Hughes: It cost a man's life to get this out of Germany.
    – Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
    1. Peevy: "Film fans were saddened by the news that actor Neville Sinclair was killed in a tragedy when flaming debris fell on his touring car." That's terrible! That was a nice car.
    – Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
    1. Jenny Blake: Oh my God. Neville Sinclair's a...
    2. Neville Sinclair: A what? Spy? Saboteur? Fascist? All of the above.
    – Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
    1. Jenny Blake: I've finally played a scene with Neville Sinclair.
    – Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
    1. Cliff Secord: How do I look?
    2. Peevy: Like a hood ornament.
    – Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
    1. Cliff Secord: What was that line again? Oh my prince...
    2. Jenny Blake: ...would that you drink of my lips...
    3. Cliff Secord: Thanks, I don't mind if I do.
    – Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
View all quotes (10)

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Latest News on The Rocketeer

August 22, 2012:
Disney Reportedly Wants a Rocketeer Remake
Taking another shot at the 1991 cult favorite.
June 29, 2011:
Joe Johnston Would Gladly Do a Rocketeer Sequel
We wonder if Disney feels the same way.
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