Canister X Movie Review #65: The Rocketeer (1991)
Written by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo
Directed by Joe Johnston
Runtime 108 min.
4 out of 5
When Cliff Secord stumbles upon a rocket pack stashed away in an airplane, him and his friend Peevy soon find themselves on the run from gangsters with ties to the Nazis.
I saw this back when I was a kid and it’s still one of my favorite superhero flicks, namely because it’s historical, has a very human superhero, and is about flying. I mean, who doesn’t want to fly? Better, who doesn’t want to think they can somehow piece together a rocket pack, strap it on and take to the sky?
What makes this superhero movie different is it’s not about a guy going around and helping people while trying to juggle a secret identity and, later, ultimately facing off against a supervillain. Instead, it’s about someone who has something the bad guys want and spends all his time running from them, occasionally helping people along the way. So while true the standard superhero “ingredients” are there, they’re presented outside of the standard formula thus setting this flick apart. Couple that with it taking place in the past during a simpler time—a classier time, too—and you’ve got a memorable movie.
I like how they also blended real life history into this, namely bringing in Howard Hughes as the designer of the rocket pack. Very cool. Throw in a Nazi as a main villain and you’ve got some solid Good vs Evil going on. Speaking of which, Timothy Dalton as Neville Sinclair the Nazi was awesome. He was super evil in this and once you found out who he really was you just hated the guy. You gotta love villains you can hate and feel justified in doing so.
There was certainly a pulpy feel to this movie, which is good, as the Rocketeer is an old time hero, a pulp hero, in fact. They kept that element alive, even so far as having him go up against a giant goon with a unique visage. Reminded me of the Dick Tracy villains. Sweet.
If you dig pulp heroes, The Rocketeer is definitely recommended viewing. Go see for yourself.