Friday, June 21, 1991

The Rocketeer

The Rocketeer is adapted from the comic book of the same name, which was heavily inspired by the science fiction adventure stories of the 1930s and 40s.

The plot is simple: In 1938, an experimental rocket jet pack accidentally falls into the hands of a young stunt pilot named Cliff.  With the aid of the rocket pack, Cliff publicly saves someone's life, quickly gaining fame as the anonymous "Rocketeer." Eventually, Cliff's loved ones are threatened by Nazi agents who want the rocket's technology, and Cliff must find a way to save the ones he loves while keeping the rocket out of the hands of evil.

The film's special effects are perhaps slightly crude by today's standards, but still work to a great degree.  They're quite notable in that they replicate much of the style of early television sci-fi adventure serials, with jet flames that crackle and pop.

The film's art style is also notable in that it replicates much of the art deco style of the original comic book without feeling completely unrealistic or outlandish.  The Rocketeer's helmet is the most obviously surreal visual element of the film, but it still works within the narrative.

Above any and all visual elements, however, The Rocketeer's real strength is in its storytelling style.  The characters and plot echo the most classic of adventure films, and keep an uplifting vibe that simply feels good.

Perhaps the film's biggest flaw, however, is the fact that, while the film is certainly enjoyable, it is not amazing.  There is no truly "thrilling" quality to it, only an "adequately exciting" quality.

In the end, however, this is one of rare few films of its type, and has a level of originality despite its obvious derivative concept.