What do you get when you roll the adventurous tone of the ‘Indiana Jones’ films with the fun and excitement of aviation and the glitz and glammer of 1930’s Hollywood ? You get one of the best, as well as criminally under appreciated, films of the 1990’s: Joe Johnston’s ‘The Rocketeer’. This is what I consider the beginning of the current comic book to film phase, as well as one of the best. The movie, directed by Joe Johnston, best known for his this summer’s box office smash ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and his 1990’s adventure film ‘Jumanji’, features a great ensemble cast including Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, and Timothy Dalton, in what may be one of the best performances of his career. Put simply: ‘The Rocketeer’ is a modern adventure classic with an old school feel, and one that everyone can enjoy. Full review after the jump.
The film stars Billy Campbell as Cliff Seacord, a stunt pilot in 1938 Los Angeles, who is trying to make big in the aviation world. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, Jenny Blake (Jennifer Connelly), who is an aspiring actress, a steady job in the stunt plane circuit, and his close friend Peevy (Alan Arkin). But Cliff’s life is turned upside down when, to his surprise, he discovers an experimental government jet pack in his plane. Unsure what to do with it, Cliff and Peevy decide they can use the rocket to make some extra cash by doing a flying man stunt show. But when a fellow pilot is in danger, Cliff quickly jumps into action and saves the day, and his new identity becomes known as the Rocketeer. As the news spreads, Cliff is quickly pursued by a crazed Hollywood actor, Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) and his mobsters, government agents, and Nazis, who all want their hands on the jet pack. Can Cliff get the girl, save the country, and still come out in one piece? You’ll have to get the movie to find out, because I won’t tell you.
But what I can tell you is Disney has given ‘The Rocketeer’ a very striking and beautiful new print, making the movie look like new. I’ve watched this movie many times over the years on VHS and DVD, and the movie has never looked this crisp and clear before. This is a fantastic transfer, and I’m very glad to see Disney has taken the time to restore this movie the way they have, and it’s definitely going to blow fans of the this film away. Along with a solid transfer, we were also given a great new HD 5.1 audio mix that will rock your house. This movie has never sounded better, and this new mix really brings the movie to life in a new way. This is ‘The Rocketeer’ like you’ve never seen it or heard it before, and it’s definitely worth a look.
That said, I am a little sad to see this 20th Anniversary edition of ‘The Rocketeer’ being released with no special features other than the original theatrical trailer. I was hoping to see a commentary track, deleted scenes, a making of feature, or even the panel from this summer’s 20th Anniversary D23 screening at the El Capitan theater to be included, but sadly, none of that is present here on the disc. But honestly, even without special features, this release of ‘The Rocketeer’ is incredible. For a movie I never thought I’d see get the high definition treatment, I’ll take a great transfer and audio mix with no features over a bad transfer and a full set of special features. Disney has given us a great blu-ray disc with this 20th Anniversary edition of ‘The Rocketeer’, and it’ll make a great edition to your movie collection. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer for the movie buff and comic geeks in your house. I can’t recommend this title highly enough, so look for it on December 13 in stores everywhere!
- The Rocketeer: Blasting off to Bluray on December 13th (chipandco.com)
- ‘Captain America’ to Hit Blu-ray and DVD on October 25 (chipandco.com)