The Rocketeer

1991

The Rocketeer

Critics Consensus

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.

63%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 60

65%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 57,376
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The Rocketeer Photos

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 eager young pilot who finds himself in possession of a secret jet-pack that gives him the ability to fly. Cliff soon learns that screen-star Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) will stop at nothing to get his hands on the rocket pack so he can give it to the Nazis. As The Rocketeer and with a little help from his mechanic friend played by Alan Arkin, it's up to Cliff to elude Sinclair, defeat the Nazis, and save his girlfriend Jenny (Jennifer Connelly).

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Cast

Billy Campbell
as Cliff Secord
Jennifer Connelly
as Jenny Blake
Timothy Dalton
as Neville Sinclair
Paul Sorvino
as Eddie Valentine
Terry O'Quinn
as Howard Hughes
Ed Lauter
as Fitch
Tiny Ron
as Lothar
Robert Miranda
as Spanish Johnny
Robert Guy Miranda
as Spanish Johnny
Jon Polito
as Bigelow
Eddie Jones
as Malcolm
Tom Tully
as Reporter
Sam Vincent
as Filmstage Director
Lisa Pedersen
as Noblewoman
Tom Kindle
as Clapperboy
Charlie Stavola
as Assistant Director
William Boyett
as Government Liaison
William Frankfather
as Government Liaison
Heinrich James
as Nazi Agent
Herman Poppe
as Zeppelin Captain
Norbert Weisser
as Zeppelin Pilot
Scanlon Gail
as G-Man at Chaplin Field
Melora Hardin
as South Seas Singer
Robert Leeman
as W.C. Fields
Rick Overton
as South Seas Patron
Bob Leeman
as W.C. Fields
Gene Daily
as Clark Gable
Richard Warlock
as FBI Agent
Mike Finneran
as Reporter
Doug McGrath
as Reporter
Dave Adams
as Reporter
Arlee Reed
as Cameraman
David Pressman
as Hospital Guard
Lila Finn
as Clothesline Lady
Perry Cook
as Good Old Boy
Taylor Gilbert
as Stewardess
Ele Keats
as Girl at Newsstand
Danielle Bedau
as Girl at Newsstand
Robert Sandman
as South Seas Bandleader
Bob Sandman
as South Seas Bandleader
Lori Lynn Ross
as South Seas Mermaid
Kathleen Michaels
as South Seas Camera Girl
Merritt Yohnka
as Nazi Crewman
Peter Frankland
as Nazi Commando
Kristopher Logan
as Nazi Commando
Paul Forsyth
as Nazi Commando
Craig Hosking
as Airshow Pilot
Steve Hinton
as Airshow Pilot
Jim Franklin
as Airshow Pilot
Richard T. Brickert
as Airshow Pilot
Chuck Wentworth
as Airshow Pilot
Bill Turner
as Airshow Pilot
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News & Interviews for The Rocketeer

Critic Reviews for The Rocketeer

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (11)

  • Undeniably, Rocketeer's overall trajectory is pleasing and winning, but it lacks the quirky charms and personal idiosyncracies that endeared other big-effects films to tot and sophisticate alike.

    Jun 21, 2018 | Full Review…
  • A piece of blandly enthusiastic, B-movie pulp.

    Jul 6, 2010 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 18, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The whole thing is good-natured enough, but increasingly mechanical.

    Apr 18, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Neat idea, peachy visuals, but there ain't much else to grip the imagination.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top 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.

    Aug 30, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/5

Audience Reviews for The Rocketeer

  • May 24, 2015
    It's one of those unapologetically pulpy films that so desperately wants to look like it's fun that it forgets to be original or actually fun.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • May 03, 2015
    Being released in 1991, there was not much competition for super-heroic-esque films, and for that, I must say that "The Rocketeer" does what it sets out to do, beautifully. Fun, witty, dramatic, and awesome all at the same time, this picture balances insanely well what most films in this genre usually fail to accomplish. Billy Campbell is great in the leading role, as a pilot finds a jetpack that has been created by the opposing side of the war, he decides to use it for good, before realizing the opposing side are now hunting it down. With a few twists as to why they desperately need it back, this film keeps you on the edge of your seat, but not in an overly serious way. The chemistry between Campbell and Connelly was a joy to watch and like every film like this, the climax was one big giant spectacle, but it is one of the few to take it's time to give it meaning. Overall, I loved every second of this film, even though a few things were convenient to move the plot along. For what it is, "The Rocketeer" is a near perfect film for it's genre. Excellent!
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Mar 03, 2015
    The Rocketeer has an obscene amount going for it. Original superhero design, a World War II setting, jetpacks, Timothy Dalton, Jennifer Connely, the Disney name backing it... And all these things are fantastic, make no mistake. But the script itself has trouble elevating the film as a whole to the next level, leaving The Rocketeer as simply "Pretty good". Not a harsh criticism by any means, but I saw the potential for Rocketeer to be even more.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 13, 2014
    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.
    Conner R Super Reviewer

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