MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Before Joe Johnston was even thinking about directing a comic book hero movie about Captain America, he directed the comic book hero movie “The Rocketeer.” Released in 1991, this film was on that first wave of modern comic book adaptations, a wave that was relatively short-lived from Tim Burton’s “Batman” and crashing and burning somewhere in the mid-90s with the Batman sequels.
“The Rocketeer” is based on the graphic novel of the same name, paying homage to jet-pack heroes like the Commando Cody and “The King of the Rocket Men.” Those were fantastic short works back in the day, but their low budgets and dated nature made them easy targets for “Mystery-Science Theater 3000” around the same time “The Rocketeer” was out.
The story follows Cliff Secord, a young test pilot who discovers a jet-pack left in his hangar by some thugs. He decides to use the jet-pack to make money in air shows, but he’s soon swept into a greater story with a dastardly actor and ruthless gangsters trying to steal it for their own means. With the help of famous aviator Howard Hughes, who also created the jet-pack, Cliff tries to save his girl from danger.
It’s kind of sad that “The Rocketeer” never made much of a splash when it premiered in 1991 because it was by far one of the better superhero movies out there. But then again, that’s not saying much considering most of the superhero adaptations of that era were absolute crap. Still, “The Rocketeer” has held up quite well over the past two decades. It’s still not at the level of superhero movie making that we see post-“X-Men,” but it’s fun.
Released by Disney under it’s full-fledged banner (and not hidden under Touchstone Pictures, like it was in its international release), “The Rocketeer” is a fun family entertainment film. It’s not as dark or as edgy as Tim Burton’s “Batman” films, but it’s still cleaner and more digestible. It’s not a deep story, but it’s full of fun nostalgia and action.
Unfortunately, the new Blu-ray doesn’t include any special features. It has the original theatrical trailer on the disc, but it’s not a hi-def version of it. At least the film looks decent on an HD screen.