Friday, November 9, 2012

The Rocketeer (1991) Review:

There are lots of early 20th century pulp heroes that have been adapted to the big screen. But few have scored high with audiences. And then there are the ones that gather a cult following for being so unappreciated at the theaters when they were originally released. This movie is one of them. There are multiple reasons to why this movie should have been a success and yet audiences never realized the material within. It may not be Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) or Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) but the adventure is just as filling.

The Rocketeer recollects the time when everything entailed G-men in pressed suits, kingpins wearing corsages, sinister masterminds cleverly disguised as other individuals, and damsels' in distress. It is a much-welcomed nostalgic aura because these types of elements aren't always used in the correct manner. But director Joe Johnston, utilizes everything that's given to him and it's done brilliantly. And although it wasn't made the exact way he wanted it to be, Dave Stevens, the creator of The Rocketeer character, which was derived from a popular comic book, was happily satisfied with the majority of the movie.

Peevy (Arkin) & Cliff Secord (Campbell)
In this film, because Disney sponsored it, the story not only will appeal to adults but to teenagers as well. The original comic book was actually more for adults. Bill Campbell as Cliff Secord was an excellent choice, as was Jennifer Connelly as his attractive love interest. And like many other films, Connelly plays her strong-willed female character quite proficiently. Both look stunning together as well kudos to the casting by Nancy Foy. Thankfully, the writers decided to have Secord already have a love interest and not "find" her as the plot continued, like most love stories go. Also the fact that this film doesn't have sappy love. This can drain the energy from the whole plot, making it difficult for the audience.

Neville Sinclair (Dalton) & Eddie Valentine (Sorvino)
As characters go, many scenes were done in pairs. If it's not Secord's technician pal, Peevy (Alan Arkin), making funny lines, it's mobster Eddie Valentine (Paul Sorvino) making threats to his boss, Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton). And if it's not them, the audience will even take pleasure in watching Ed Lauter and James Handy, play two FBI agents, Fitch and Wooly, who seem to always be one step behind everyone else. And who's their boss? Nobody else but Howard Hughes, played by Terry O'Quinn. The screenplay leaves nobody out of the story and that’s good because every character is amiable for their own reasons. Each role was given special care so that no one would be left out off the screen and it shows.

The special effects are reputable here too. Some audiences may find them exhausted due to how special effects are used nowadays but all the same, for 1991, that's exceptionally impressive. Not to mention that 1991 was the beginning of when CGI was first introduced from Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). But when Secord is up in air and soaring like a fighter jet, it's still an eye-catcher today. Some may even call Secord as the Ironman (2008) of his time and in a way, they’re right!  And although The Rocketeer wasn't a machine, he was the first human flying machine. It's a lot of fun to watch.

There is no question about action in this adventure tale either. All of it is appropriate for its audience especially for what Johnston was given to work with story wise. I will admit that there wasn't as much as I had expected there to be but I still loved the movie at the end. The music is great too. The man who created a stirring soundtrack to the movie Glory (1989), is back again; James Horner. Horner may not have made this particular soundtrack to be emotionally moving, but it is profusely joyful and innocent, making it just as delightful. And just like Glory's tune, The Rocketeer has its own theme that's also of one to remember.

The conversion of Dave Stevens' comic book hero has a great cast, a pleasant screenplay, and a sensational soundtrack. It's shocking that a film done this well, did not make it big in the movie business.

Points Earned --> 10:10

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