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The Rocketeer (SE)
BLU-RAY disk
12.29.2011 By: Jason Adams
The Rocketeer (SE) order
Director:
Joe Johnston

Actors:
Billy Campbell
Jennifer Connelly
Timothy Dalton

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A cocky young stunt pilot stumbles upon a personal rocket pack and inadvertently becomes a hero tangled up with Hollywood stars, mobsters, the FBI and even Nazis.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
When Joe Johnston was announced as the director of CAPTAIN AMERICA I thought he was a perfect choice for one reason: THE ROCKETEER.

THE ROCKETEER is a timeless, near-perfect adventure movie and its retro flair, patriotic nostalgia and constant sense of thrills and fun are perfectly suited to Johnston's sensibilities. Like Dave Stephen's graphic novel, the film truly feels like an old school throwback, mixing a classic Golden Age Hollywood setting with pulpy action, romance and more.

The movie moves at a fast pace but doesn’t waste a minute. We're quickly introduced to young pilot Cliff Secord and his friend and mentor Peevy and, following an eventful chase between the mafia and the FBI, it's not long before our hero has found and fired up the rocket. For the most part, the Rocketeer effects from ILM still hold up. You can easily spot the green screen work, but that doesn't hinder the action sequences from working like gangbusters. And there are some really great, exciting set pieces to show off the title character, from the first time Cliff straps on the jet pack for a test ride to an indoor chase inside a posh nightclub to the finale fight atop a very big, very flammable Nazi blimp. Each sequence is different and showcases the varied potential of a superhero with a rocket.

THE ROCKETEER also boasts perfect casting pretty much across the board. Billy Campbell seems like he stepped off the page of a comic book, both in looks and demeanor. Alan Arkin is also great as his older, wiser friend, and together they make a very likable team. And, oh boy, Jennifer Connelly. More specifically, Jennifer Connelly in that white satin dress. That's the thing that lifelong crushes are made out of. Honestly, the movie's main romance works more due to Connelly's sheer radiance than to the writing, but I don't think that hurts the film at all.

You also get then-current James Bond Timothy Dalton as the charming and sinister Neville Sinclair. Even when he’s acting like a Nazi scumbag you still want to love the guy. (Not to mention his “I’ll miss Hollywood” line is pitch-perfect.) Even seven foot tall Tiny Ron is terrifyingly memorable as the villainous Lothar, and you can even spot a younger John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) as none other than Howard Hughes.

The other major part of THE ROCKETEER's success is James Horner’s majestic score, which amplifies every heroic, romantic or dangerous moment perfectly. The end result is a movie that still fills me with wonder and joy, even 20 years later. It's a damn shame it was never successful enough to warrant any sequels.
THE EXTRAS
Just a Theatrical Trailer on the 20th Anniversary Edition? What gives, Disney?
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Though there's a truly disappointing lack of special features on this 20th Anniversary Blu-Ray, THE ROCKETEER is still a classic adventure tale worth owning. Let's just hope one day it gets the respect and the home video treatment it deserves.

Extra Tidbit: Look for “cameos” from Clark Gable, W.C. Fields and “Deadwood’s” own E.B. Farnum.
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