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2 Ratings: 3.0
Kids & Family movie directed by Joe Johnston

Based on a retro-styled comic book hit of the '80s, this Disney film was meant to launch a whole line ofRocketeerfilms--but the series began and ended with this one. That's too bad, because this underrated Joe Johnston film has a certain loopy … see full wiki

Director: Joe Johnston
Genre: Family
1 review about Rocketeer

Thirties adventure serials revisited

  • Nov 14, 2004
This movie is modeled on the adventure serials so popular in movie theaters decades ago. The setting is the mid-thirties, with Nazi bad guys, G-men who talk just right, romance, gangsters, espionage, and heroism. A top secret government project is stolen from the research labs of Howard Hughes and the thieves hide it in the hanger of a young pilot named Cliff Secord. While they are fleeing from the feds, the thieves shoot up Secord's plane and he crash lands.
The project is a personal rocket pack and Secord finds it. With his ace mechanic friend PV, they test it and learn how to use it. During an emergency when the pilot of an old plane loses control, Secord dons the rocket pack, flies up and rescues him. This creates a sensation and causes the Nazi spies and gangsters to
take an interest in him. The main German spy is an actor and Secord's girlfriend is an aspiring actress with a bit part in a movie the spy is starring in. Once the spy realizes the connection, he woos the girlfriend and kidnaps her.
There is a climactic battle at the end where the gangsters, G-men and Secord join forces to battle a group of German troops over control of the rocket pack. Of course the good guys win, with a daring rescue performed by Howard Hughes flying an experimental plane that is essentially a helicopter. Hughes shows his appreciation by giving Secord a plane to use in the national competition.
What makes this movie work is the casting and the ways in which the characters stay within their roles based on the timeframe of the movie. All stay within the thirties and Jennifer Connelly is sultry, but within the bounds allowed at that time. My favorite character was Alan Arkin as the ace mechanic PV. He is able to solve some of the problems with the rocket so that it can be used. Timothy Dalton, classic bad guy mustache included, plays the charismatic, yet ruthless German spy to perfection.
Some movies are just fun to watch, and this is one of them. With the people on both sides of the good guy/bad guy divide drawn from the cliches of the thirties, there are no surprises in their actions. Nevertheless, the movie rises above that and delivers entertainment beyond the cliches.

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