The Rocketeer Reviews
Just seeing the old movie poster shows you how much care and attention to detail went into this film. The poster has a fantastic art deco design (from the era) of our heroic lead character, its simple and minimal but does the job a thousand times over, I love it, one of the best posters created. Even the font for the text is absolutely perfect looking.
Although the character was created in 82 its an obvious homage to pulp comicbooks and matinee/serial hero characters of the 30's/40's, the idea is simple but it works so so well. The whole film has that 'Indy' feel to it and completes a trilogy of classic pulp comicbook superheroes alongside 'The Shadow' and 'The Phantom'...in my opinion. All characters of the era and all similar in design, typical manly and dashing in smart outfits, saving poor damsels in distress for breakfast.
The film is nothing but fun and doesn't pretend to be serious or shy away from the ham n cheese. Dalton is the dastardly caddish villain who is clearly suppose to be Errol Flynn, Connelly is the soppy damsel in distress, Sorvino is the classic American gangster in a tubby Al Capone style ('Eddie Valentine'? perfect American mobster name methinks), O'Quinn plays Howard Hughes amazingly well and Tiny Ron is a character straight out of 'Dick Tracy'. New boy Campbell also does really well as the lead character giving the role a fresh feel and no ego problems which tend to come with big names.
The film looks great and has some terrific design work, the rocket pack looks cool and practical with more nice art deco touches...as does the helmet with its rudder fin on the top. Effects were considered very good at the time with lots of high flying thrills and aerial stunts, bluescreen heavily used of course. Nowadays the effects do look rather iffy and obvious but that tends to add to the charm really, it doesn't detract from the excitement in any way. The plot is straight forward but it does get a bit beyond itself towards the finale, like how on earth does a huge Nazi Zeppelin fly into the US undetected? I guess its suppose to be the 30's so who knows, radar not at its best back then huh (well it was in its early days I believe). I must also mention the brilliant animated black n white short in the middle of the flick which shows the Nazi's intentions with the rocket pack. Truly awesome animation that is sharp as a knife to this day, it could easily have been a separate film (or series) in itself.
I really can't fault this film in any way, sure its silly but its well worked escapism and an affectionate tribute to the era, anyone of any age would have fun watching this. Without taking anything away from the creators you could almost say its like an adventure from a young Indiana Jones, an early tale from his younger years, a prequel even. I love how they didn't shy away from using the Nazi's as the bad guys despite it being a family film, an important requirement. The Indiana Jones of the skies, fighting the dastardly Nazi's and their incredible machines of war, hell this is really what 'Captain America' should have been like.
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.
This movie has classic old Hollywood nostalgia and fantasy all over it. As a kid I watched this film many times and dug it wuite a lot. Over time I slowly forgot about it, but then I happened to see that it was on tv this morning, so I gave it a watch for old time's sake.
I'm happy to say that it's still a good movie. It hasn't aged great, and my nostalgia has a fair bearing on it, but the movie is just supposed to be good old fashioned fun that taps into youthful fantasy and adventure. It's very much in love with the past, and the tone has a "golly gee" and "shucks" type of innocence that you just don't really get too often anymore.
Joe Johnston did a decent job here as director, the score by James Horner is very fitting, and the performances, though nothing excellent are a lot of fun. Something I was able to appreciate now that I didn't before were the art direction and set design. The art deco inspiration for the helmet is just cool. I've seen other films do a better job of bringing the late 30s to life, but they do okay here.
All in all, this isn't something to be taken too seriously, but it's a harmless piece of well meaning fun, so go on and give it a chance.
There were two things I really didn't like about the movie. First of all, I thought that Timothy Dalton did a bad job as the villain. Also, I wish the movie could be more dark. Pretty much every good superhero movie I've seen has a bit of darkness, but this one not so much.
The characters are the highlight. It has the perfect protaginist underdog, a struggling pilot who comes across a jet pack meant to be given to an evil Nazi actor. I also liked Alan Irkin's role as his sidekick.
The special affects were pretty good too. This was a time when "Howard the Duck" could have been seen as a special affects extravaganza/
As far as the plot goes, it's above average for 1990's superhero films. I won't give it away. Joe Johnston did a fantastic job directing this movie, clearly practice for his 2010 masterpiece "The Wolfman".
Over all, I really liked this movie. I really, REALLY liked it.
A young pilot stumbles onto a prototype jetpack that allows him to become a high flying masked hero.
A delightful throwback to the cliffhanger serials of yesteryear, 'The Rocketeer' is an underrated adaptation of Dave Stevens's wonderful comic. Spirited and perfectly cast, it spins its tale of Nazis, damsels in distress, hulking thugs, Hollywood glamour, brave pilots and derring-do with a beguiling innocence. Joe Johnston directs with a wonderfully light touch, the production design and photography evoke the era like a nostalgic dream, and James Horner's rousing music is utterly magical, one of the best scores to come out of the '90s. The flying sequences are where the movie steps up a gear, sending the perfectly recreated Rocketeer into the wide open skies with a feeling of freedom and a strangely emotional tone; the air show rescue is a particularly fine set piece.
Peevy: Like a hood ornament.
A fun Disney superhero B-movie about a stunt pilot with a jetpack. No need to be taken seriously, just to have fun with. Lots of cool retro style from the late 30s in LA, complete with cool costumes and and old fashion score by James Horner.
Bill Campbell stars as Cliff, a stunt pilot who accidentally stumbles upon a secret rocket that is hot in demand by many other parties as well. Along with his old buddy, played by Alan Arkin, the two fix it up a bit and Cliff soon learns how to fly with it.
Meanwhile, a gang of Nazi spies led by Timothy Dalton, a gang boss played by Paul Sorvino, and the rockets original designer Howard Hughes played by Terry "John Locke" O'Quinn, all want to get it back.
Cliff soon becomes a local hero of sorts, and the movie essentially follows the hero origin tale. Jennifer Connelly also stars as the very hot girlfriend.
Its simple, fast, and fun.
Cliff Secord: Jenny, prepare yourself for a shock: I'm the Rocketeer.
Jenny: The Rocke-who?
Cliff Secord: [frustrated] Oh for crying out loud, haven't you read the papers?
Jenny: [beat] No, I've been working all day.