Directed By: Joe Johnson
Written By: Dave Stevens (original character) Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, and William Dear (story and screenplay)
In 1991 I was seven years old and already a huge fan of this type of film and character. Thanks to the likes of He-Man, Flash Gordon, Batman, and of course the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I was already a veteran of films about heroes. They were my favorite and along came this lovable Disney movie about a guy with a really cool looking costume flying around with a jetpack. On top of that he was going head to head with Nazis a la Indiana Jones style. I remember seeing this movie in the theater multiple times going to work with my dad at that young age and I absolutely loved it.
For a time I even demanded my mother fix my hair just like Cliff Seacord with that part in the middle although my hair would never look right. I also really wanted one of those bitchin red leather jackets that button up all the way across the front, though I’d never be able to rock that either. Even today, if I were able to get my hands on a replica of the Rocketeer’s helmet it would be displayed in a prime place among all my cool fan boy crap. The funny thing is that Cliff Seacord, played by Billy Campbell, was the kind of character only a seven year old could love. I hold him in nostalgic honor now as “that cool guy that was the Rocketeer,” but in all honesty a better actor could have made a more memorable movie.
Somehow Campbell managed to beat out several actors such as Emilio Estevez, Matthew Modine, Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, and Kurt Russell. All of whom where arguably at the high points of their respective careers. If Billy Campbell ever went on to do anything else of significance I am unfamiliar with it. He had the benefit of a great supporting cast to make him look better though. Alan Arkin is such a talented actor and he brings something great to every thing he is a part of. Timothy Dalton makes for a great villain as the undercover Nazi with the terrifying henchman at his disposal. Paul Sorvino is in his natural role as a cool mobster who will break the law but isn’t working for any damn Nazi. Jennifer Connelly is also noteworthy as the pretty damsel in distress.
I remember back in 2010 being surprised to see that Joe Johnson was going to be the guy behind camera on the highly anticipated Captain America: The First Avenger. When the name was first reported I had to look him up. While I saw a few notable films, The Rocketeer was the one that jumped out at me and a ton of memories about this movie came flooding back to me. It was then that I decided to add this movie to the collection and I don’t think it was a mistake.
This movie holds special value to me because for a while it was my favorite during a tough time in childhood. Setting that aside I still think this is a really cool movie. Disney has always been able to make a fun and exciting movie that was appropriate for all ages. This movie has cool bad guys, mobsters, airplanes, sword fights, Nazis, the legend of aviation Howard Hughes, and Hollywood all rolled into one. It’s a movie that this day in age no one remembers and few have even heard of it. That doesn’t change anything about the film because I’ll stand by this one. This movie is worth your time and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and do.
NEXT MOVIE: Role Models (2008)