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'The Rocketeer' 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Review

Disney celebrates the 20th anniversary with the long awaited high definition release.

20 years ago The Rocketeer was released in theaters. It's hard to believe it's been two decades now. The movie is based on the comic character created by Dave Stevens and first appeared in 1982.

The character was set in the late 1930s and was an homage to the serial films of the time. When a stunt pilot, Cliff Secord, finds an experimental (and top-secret) jetpack, he's thrown into a world of high-flying adventure. Both the government and evil villains want the jetpack and Secord is thrown right in the middle.

The movie stars Billy Campbell as Cliff Secord/the Rocketeer, Jennifer Connelly as Jenny Blake (or Bettie Page as in the comic), Alan Arkin as Peevy, Timothy Dalton as Neville Sinclair, Terry O'Quinn (from LOST) as Howard Hughes and was directed by Joe Johnston (who recently directed a little movie called Captain America: The First Avenger).

The Rocketeer is one of those movies you occasionally come across when flipping through channels on cable. As much as I wanted to see the movie once again, I refused to watch it and vowed I wouldn't until it was released on Blu-ray. Now that the day has finally come, it's a mixed bag.

The movie does look good but it doesn't look great. It looks better than past releases but I'm still wowed by high definition releases and part of the test is checking out the quality up close. Considering the movie was made 20 years ago and had it's share of technical problems and goofs back then, Disney did a fine job restoring the movie. The sound is great and turning up the volume gives you a feeling you're part of the movie as you hear the rocket blast or the bullets fly.

The movie itself still holds up today. They managed to capture the 1930s feel and the story is full of enough adventure to keep you glued. Too many times when you revisit an older release you loved in the beginning, there's often that feeling of disappointment as the movie's quality doesn't live up to the current standards. The Rocketeer is a movie you can watch and enjoy today. Some of the effects used in the movie might make you cringe a little if you're overly critical but there's still a good time be had watching it.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of special features. What you get is...the original theatrical trailer. That's it. It is interesting to see the difference in the quality between the trailer and the restored movie. There isn't any commentary, making of featurettes or anything. But this release is focused on the actual movie. That should be enough.

There aren't many 'comic book movies' that are truly watchable. As comic fans, we sometimes are critical but forgiving just to be able to have a movie based on a comic. There are some differences in the Rocketeer's story but it was a great attempt and a great movie. Will we get another release at some point with more extra content? I'm not sure if there's any that exist but the fact is, it's all about the movie. I've waited a long time to watch The Rocketeer again and while this isn't a perfect release, it's a mighty fine one and well deserving and completely welcome to be part of my home library collection. It's a shame a sequel was never made.

The Rocketeer is in stores today.

Posted by Jackile

I LOVED the Rocketeer as a kid. One of my favorite movies. I'll definitely have to get this.

Posted by EisforExtinction

I also loved it as a kid and rewatched it after seeing Captain America. It's still awesome.

"Tell him the dream is over. Tell him Howard Hughes said so."

Posted by Hashbrowns

I just wish they used the original poster art for the cover.

Posted by jakob187

I loved the movie when I was a kid...when I was young...when I was naive and hadn't seen any of the original comics...

Once I learned of the comics and read them, I ended up despising everything that the movie was: a watered-down mess that Joe Johnston used to launch his career. I know that studios were involved in the decisions as well, but I just...

It definitely made me form my opinions of Joe Johnston as well as newer opinions on the movie. I don't think I can watch this and see it the same way anymore.

Edited by sinful

I'm not a fan of remakes/reboots, but I would love to see a New Rocketreer.

Posted by Omega Ray Jay

Awesome, can't believe how old it is :S

Posted by Mandrewgora

still one of my favorite comic movies.

Posted by Dedpool

@Sinful- Agreed! Same with the Shadow and a good version of the classic Phantom. Personally I liked all three originals of those as they were good campy fun.

Posted by KRYPTON

Still one of my favorite movies, be picking this up

Posted by Decept-O

You make a great point with this statement, G-Man: "There aren't many 'comic book movies' that are truly watchable. As comic fans, we sometimes are critical but forgiving just to be able to have a movie based on a comic."

I honestly could care less about Blu-Ray and yes part of that is due to my low income but even if I had more "disposable income" I'd fail to see the point of it. That's just me. However it is nice they at least gave The Rocketeer enough consideration for a Blu-Ray treatment for those fans who may want it.

It is a shame another Rocketeer movie was never made. It is one of my all time favorite comic book based movies. I agree with all the sentiments stated in the article. It is a bigger loss that Dave Stevens passed away so early at the height of his success as an incredibly talented storyteller and illustrator.

Posted by The Impersonator

Look up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's....THE ROCKETEER! :P

Posted by Kairan1979
maybe it's for the best. They could have ruined Rocketeer by bad remake.
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Ah well. I'll just settle on my DVD version then that I've had for years. Really too bad.

Posted by Raven0207

I think I am going to cry ! I love this movie and character in general !

Posted by pikahyper

way to make me feel old G-Man...

The holy trinity of '90s awesome comic movies The Rocketeer, The Phantom & The Shadow :D

No extra's !!!! blasphemous, such a waste of space on a blu-ray disc and it in no way justifies the high retail price, I've been let down by a lot of blu-rays as of late, for as much as they cost they should be full of extras.

Posted by Decept-O

@Kairan1979: Yes I think a remake would suck. It is probably best left as is. A lot of movies are best left alone, actually. A sequel of some type would have been interesting but I am OK with The Rocketeer being a stand alone movie.

Posted by feargalr

Is it just me or does the box art look really really really like the Iron Man 1 box.. or vice versa since this was out first

Posted by ZombiePie

Watching The Rocketeer will make you realize that the Captain America movie should have been better. It's that good.

Posted by Lexino

@feargalr said:

Is it just me or does the box art look really really really like the Iron Man 1 box.. or vice versa since this was out first

its similar, but not same, most posters/box art are like that anyway.

The cover of the first issue of Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin was based on the originall art deco poster of The Rocketeer (posted above)

Maybe payback? :P


I was always a little curious about the comic books. I know IDW continually releases them to date in collections, and they celebrate them probably a higher regard and treatment pretentiously and featuring practically ever top name in the comics industry more than any single comic I have seen released in the past two years. Needless to say I'm able to assume there must be something good about the reads, yet I'm hesitant as I never see a single mention of these IDW books here, much less any rel talk of the comics themselves and just of this movie and the helmet from it instead. Perhaps someone here has actually read the comic and can enlighten as to why it is practically plated in gold in it's current releases and what makes it worth reading to a now modern audience. And if course to stay on topic the relations and differences between the seemingly more understood film.

Posted by Xenozoic Shaman

Been looking forward to this for years. This, Willow and Dragonslayer that is. Hopefully those two will see a proper Blu-ray release soon.

Plus, who wouldn't want to see Jennifer Connelly in high def?

Posted by G-Man

@Hashbrowns: I actually had the full standee of that in my bedroom. I was working in a movie theater at the time.

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

The Rocketeer was awesome! Joe Johnston knows how to make a period piece in fantasy.