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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - January, 2012

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"The Rocketeer" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movie-january-2012-the-rocketeer

Synopsis

Based on a retro-styled comic book hit of the '80s, this Disney film was meant to launch a whole line of Rocketeer films--but the series began and ended with this one. That's too bad, because this underrated Joe Johnston film has a certain loopy charm. The story centers on a pre-World War II stunt pilot (Campbell) who accidentally comes into possession of a rocket-propelled backpack built by Howard Hughes. With the aid of his mechanic pal (Arkin), he gets it up and running, then uses it to foil a plot by a gang of vicious Nazi spies led by an Eroll Flynn-type bad guy, Timothy Dalton. Jennifer Connelly is on hand as the love interest, but the real fun here is when the Rocketeer takes off.

Specifications

  • Disney Studios
  • 2011, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 48 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec: AVC MPEG 4
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Timothy Dalton, Jennifer Connelly, Bill Campbell
  • Directed by Joe Johnston
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Joe Johnson perfectly captures the look and feel of Hollywood during the 1930s. Great casting with Bill Campbell right on target as Cliff Secord, Jennifer Connelly as his best girl, Alan Arkin as Cliff's mentor and mechanic/inventor friend, and Timothy Dalton as the deliciously wicked Nazi spy/movie star, Neville Sinclair. With plenty of action and some fairly good “gee whiz” effects, this little gem is perfect for a wholesome family movie night in the home theater. I loved the tongue in cheek humor, especially with the iconic Hollywood sign. This is the 20th Anniversary Edition and what it lacks in extras, it delivers in a clean transfer that will please most viewers.

Technical

This film is presented with full rich colors, accurate skin tones and no evidence of spots, blemishes or digital artifacts. Film grain is mild to moderate with the overall clarity much better than the DVD counterpart, though, as mentioned, some scenes are a bit soft. This is likely due to the original nature of the film processing and not so much the transfer onto blu-ray. The real revelation for me was the sound. Horner’s musical score is broad and detailed. For instance, the scene where Cliff is idling in his Gee Bee. The plane’s engine is dead center in the foreground, yet the music swells across the front of the room behind the TV screen. What depth of (audio) field! Surrounds and sub are used generously, though perhaps a little more "boom" was needed in the climactic zeppelin scene near the end. Too bad a sequel was not in the offering.

Extras

Disney fails to ignite: Only a theatrical trailer in SD.