tek's rating: ½

The Rocketeer (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This came out in 1991. I saw it in the theater, and then wanted to see it again for years. When I finally got the DVD and rewatched the movie, I guess I didn't like it quite as much as I remembered, but it's still pretty cool, even if I didn't rate it as highly as I expected to. Oh yeah, I should also say, it seems it's based on a graphic novel (hence my putting in this category), but I never heard of the thing, so... originally I called it "pulp." But later I moved it here.

Anyway, Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell) is a pilot in 1938, who's spent the past few years building a plane with his friends, mainly a guy named Peabody (Alan Arkin), to enter in "the Nationals." I'm not sure what that means exactly, but it's a dream they've put all their time, effort, money, and hopes into. Cliff is taking the plane on a test flight, but unfortunately, at the same time the FBI is involved in a car chase, with some gangsters who have just stolen a prototype rocket backpack, which was designed by Howard Hughes (Terry O'Quinn). For some reason, in the midst of the chase, Cliff's plane gets shot down. Meanwhile, a gangster hides the jet pack in an older plane so the Feds won't get it. He substitutes something else, which gets destroyed when his car explodes, so they'll think the rocket is gone.

Later, when Cliff is planning to accept the offer of a man named Bigelow (Jon Polito), who puts on air shows, to go back to an old job... he discovers the rocket pack. Peabody makes some improvements to the rocket, and also makes a helmet for Cliff. And when Cliff is late for his job at the air show, one of his friends goes on in his place, even though he hasn't flown in decades. When something goes wrong, Cliff uses the rocket to save him, and the press (and public) go wild for the mysterious "Rocketeer."

Meanwhile, Cliff's girlfriend Jenny Blake (Jennifer Connelly) is a bit upset that Cliff hasn't been entirely supportive of her acting career. She ends up going out with a famous actor named Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton)... who happens to have been the person who hired the gangsters- led by Eddie Valentine (Paul Sorvino)- to steal the jet pack in the first place. The reason for his interest in the jetpack is unclear for some time, but will eventually lead to my favorite scene in the film. However, I won't spoil that for you by telling you what it is.

Well, I'm not quite sure what else to say. The movie starts off a bit slow, I think, but eventually there's enough action. Sort of. I dunno, the Rocketeer has the potential to become a really cool superhero or something, but in this film... eh, not so much. A hero, definitely, but he's still finding his wings, so to speak. I really feel a sequel could've been even better, in that department. For the most part, though, he just seems like a sort of regular guy with a cool new toy. It was a fun story, though, with nice action and humor and romance. It definitely deserved to be a bigger hit, in my opinion. Would've made a nice franchise. But whatever, I'm quite happy with what we've got.

In 2019, an animated kids' show also called The Rocketeer debuted on Disney Junior, but I'm not sure when I might get to see it.

comic book movies