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The Rocket (2014)

tomatometer

98

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 54
Fresh: 53 | Rotten: 1

A feel-good success crafted with care, Kim Mordaunt's story of two young kids in Laos is a heartfelt audience pleaser while remaining sensitive toward its subjects.

100

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 0

A feel-good success crafted with care, Kim Mordaunt's story of two young kids in Laos is a heartfelt audience pleaser while remaining sensitive toward its subjects.

audience

83

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 6,092

My Rating

Movie Info

A boy who is believed to bring bad luck leads his family (and a couple of ragged misfits) through Laos to find a new home. After a calamity-filled journey through a land scarred by war, the boy builds a giant rocket to prove he's not cursed and to enter the most lucrative but dangerous competition of the year: a rocket festival. (c) Kino Lorber

Unrated,

Drama

Kim Mordaunt

Apr 29, 2014

Kino Lorber - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (54) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (53) | Rotten (1)

In some ways, it feels like a throwback to many '80s teen movies, where everything comes down to a competition at the end, and the hero will finally get the chance to prove his worth.

March 31, 2014 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It follows a search for personal salvation while painting a portrait of Laotian life that's both revealing and relatable.

March 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A powerful, deeply moving drama about a young boy who comes to terms with the tragedies that have befallen his family by creating a thing of beauty - a gorgeous, high-flying rocket emitting triumphant bursts of color - out of refuse left by the war.

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mordaunt doesn't always succeed at balancing the sentimental, the political and the ethnographic, but at its strongest the story is a seamless melding of history's dark undertow and a child's indefatigable optimism.

January 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Long on atmosphere and less sentimental about poverty than "Beasts of the Southern Wild," the film carries a potent charge of authenticity.

January 10, 2014 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A pretty, somewhat sleepy and finally strange once-upon-a-time tale...

January 9, 2014 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Inescapeable hopelessness turns out to be neither

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

A vital fairytale about a ten-year-old Laotian boy whose family thinks he's been cursed since birth, "The Rocket" is an unlikely heartwarmer.

April 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Newcity
Newcity

Vivid, travelogue-y village pic.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Try not to fall off the edge of your seat during the film's nail-biting final scenes.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

Despite some dark edges, this crowd-pleasing Laotian drama is far too heartwarming for its own good.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Contactmusic.com
Contactmusic.com

It is a likable piece of work whose gentleness is an interesting contrast to the grim and even tragic subject matter.

March 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

[It's] a feel-good, triumph-over-adversity story involving a small boy and, although this outcome also isn't in any doubt, at least the journey is fascinating and it's been made with a heart that is warm.

March 13, 2014 Full Review Source: The Spectator
The Spectator

This utterly charming, fable-like coming of age tale will live longer in the hearts and minds of audiences.

March 13, 2014 Full Review Source: HeyUGuys
HeyUGuys

A simple but charming, affecting and thought-provoking story, rich in atmosphere and local history, and beautifully acted by its young leads.

March 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

A Lao-brow fable that resonates richly with the realities of globalisation.

March 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

A stirring, lushly-constructed celebration of youthful spirit.

March 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

This strikingly original feelgood fable is artfully balanced between director Kim Mordaunt's roots in documentary and a spellbinding magic realism.

March 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A first [feature] for both Mordaunt's filmography and the country's catalogue of internationally-released titles and it's difficult to imagine a debut being stronger.

March 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

The Rocket won't change anyone's world, but as a pleasantly sweet piece of world cinema, it's still worth seeing and being charmed by.

March 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

A coming-of-age fable driven by naturalistic performances and a poignant atmosphere of loss.

February 26, 2014 Full Review Source: The List
The List

This engaging fable oscillates between feel-good spunk and unexpected tragedy, and hits the right notes along the way.

February 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

Audience Reviews for The Rocket

After White Reindeer, I had the pleasure of attending a sold out showing for this film. And wow, am I impressed. It's a rather simplistic story, and I mean simplistic, not cliche. Those are not synonyms, well at least to me. First off, the acting is amongst some of the best I've seen at CIFF. I have no idea how old Sitthiphon Disamoe is, but he gives a killing performance. One that was better, to me, than some Hollywood actors have done in their career (not going to name names, but *cough cough* Ashton Kutcher). If you want an idea on what the feel of the movie is like, see "Journey From the Fall." Although "The Rocket" is Australian made, it is set in the Southeast Asian country of Laos, and the film itself has the feel of a Southeast Asian film. The shots are beautiful to look at, sometimes resembling the ones that everybody loved in Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line." To what level is the film predictable ? Only the ending. Which is a very satisfying ending, in the sense that there was no other way to end the film. The characters are loveable, especially the two lead child actors.

More about the cinematography, Kim Mordaunt does a great job of establishing them. There are a few long shots that are a bit blurry, but other than that, she does a great job of creating mood by simply choosing the right cinematography options. A clear example for people who have seen the film is the bat cave scene, wherein the woman professes Ahlo is a bad spirit. The close up, and focus on the shots was phenomenal, really capturing the raw emotion from both the actors. Along with that, the choice of lighting was great. In the last scene, I'm not sure whether or not it was intended, but there is a clear example of pathetic fallacy. I can't say anymore about the ending, or I may ruin the film people who haven't seen it. The script is magnificent, and hilarious. Mordaunt, who also wrote the film, does an excellent job in capturing the traditions and diligence in which they pursue their native traditions. The film switches from tears to laughs, without having the audience question the scenes they're laughing at.

Overall, the film is really about an underdog, but rather than taking to the basketball court, or the football field, the director takes us into the mountains of Laos. It's a classic twist to a rather overdone story. The director is able to capture the cultural background of the Laos people, and make a realistic situation out of it. Jordan Hoffman of Film.com stated "If you aren't moved by the "The Rocket" your heart is defective," and I completely agree with that. Rather, I would change "your heart is defective" to "you have no heart." It is a compassionate movie for the protagonist, but by no means is it a cliche story. One of the best movies I saw at CIFF by far, this and "Blue is the Warmest Color."
October 31, 2013
Anthony L.
Anthony Le

Super Reviewer

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