The Rocketeer (Blu-ray)

Before the Clark Kent was leaping over tall buildings in a single bound…before Bruce Wayne was dressing up like a caped crusader…before Hal Jordan spoke limericks into a lantern…there was THE ROCKETEER.

Billy Campbell in The Rocketeer

It’s 1938 in Los Angeles and a young, handsome pilot has just stumbled upon a prototype for a self propelling jet pack.  Cliff (Billy Campbell) and his trusty mechanic Peevy (Alan Arkin) decide to tweak the prototype and use the jet pack to “win nationals.”    When an ornery old pilot friend of theirs decides to fly a clunky plane at the air show, he gets into a bit of trouble and it’s up to Cliff to strap on the back-pack and a dorky helmet crafted by Peevy, fly up and save the friend.  The media goes crazy and The Rocketeer is born!

Billy Campbell and Jennifer Connelly in The Rocketeer

Unfortunately, the third highest paying actor in Hollywood Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) and his Mob friends are looking for the jet pack.  Thanks to Cliff’s new hero status, both the Mob entourage and a creepy eight-foot man with what appears to be a rubbery mask will do whatever it takes to hunt Cliff and Peevy down to retrieve the prototype.  That includes wooing and kidnapping his girlfriend Jenny (Jennifer Connelly).  Cliff must don the helmet, strap on the pack and save the dame before the bad guys find him and turn the pack over to the Nazis.

First, let me just say that Billy Campbell is ridiculously good looking.  When he smiles that winning smile and tosses a lock of his deep brown hair out of his piercing eyes, it almost makes me forget that his acting is bland at best.  He’s just so pretty!  Speaking of pretty, Jennifer Connelly is absolutely gorgeous in this film.  She looks like she was plucked right out of the 30s.  I don’t recall her having any significant lines in the film, but she did do her part — scream when kidnapped and close her eyes when kissing the hot guy after he inevitably saves her for the second time.

Billy Campbell and Alan Arkin in The Rocketeer

One puzzling character was the giant goon who was sent to kill Cliff and Peevy.  He had a very DICK TRACY over exaggerated look about him, yet I get the feeling that the audience was supposed to conclude that he was an actual real person like Andre the Giant.  I wanted them to commit to the fantasy of the character or take it down several notches.

Another thing that made me scratch my head was the fact that we never really got a concrete background story as to why Timothy Dalton’s character was an actor, yet involved with Nazis and a stolen jet pack.  These details aside, I always think that Dalton always plays a fine villain.  He’s good looking, charming with just enough evil to make you root against him.  It was also fun to see a bunch of old school actors and famous people of the era make cameos among Dalton’s social circles.  (Howard Hughes, W.C. Fields and Clark Gable.)

Billy Campbell and Jennifer Connelly in The Rocketeer

In the end, I’m glad Disney decided to bring THE ROCKETEER to Blu-ray for its 20th Anniversary.  Even though it wasn’t as adventurous as the super hero films we are used to today, any young child who loves comic books and a good “average Joe saves the day” story will appreciate the fluff of this piece.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video:  1080p High Definition (2.35.1): I liked the old Hollywood feel of the set design.  The old timey airplane shots were pretty cool, as well as the airplane crash into the Hollywood sign.  The blimp felt extremely cheesy in Blu-ray.

Audio:  DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1: There were plenty of explosions and arial scenes that made the audio really stand out.

OVERALL 3
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