Movie Review: The Rocketeer

by Josh Larsen
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Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Recommended fo:r ages 12 and up
Run Time: 108 minutes

Quick Take: This cinematic throwback to the 1930s soars with both adventure and grace.

When It Comes to Style, Rocketeer is Above the Rest

The Rocketeer is so delightfully stylish -- from the vintage airplanes to the sleek helmet donned by Campbell's pilot -- that it is easy to forgive its lack of sophistication. Connelly's dresses are sophisticated enough.

The picture's gee whiz tone -- pulled, like its look, from the same 1930s and '40s serials that inspired Raiders of the Lost Ark -- will sit just fine with kids. They'll be dazzled enough by the very idea of flying around using something that looks like the world's coolest backpack.

Campbell is a bland lead, but once he straps on that helmet it doesn't matter. He looks like some sort of noble space bug buzzing around the sky. At first he buzzes out of control, but then he develops a heroic grace. The movie heads off into the clouds, and so do we.

Kids Will Like:
An animated propaganda film revealing the Nazis' plan to send an army of rocket-pack soldiers to attack the United States. The segment is actually cooler than the movie surrounding it.

Parents Will Like:
The nods to the stars of 1930s Hollywood. Timothy Dalton's villain is an onscreen swashbuckler and Nazi sympathizer loosely modeled on Errol Flynn. Also making "cameos" are W.C. Fields and Howard Hughes. Campbell, meanwhile, seems to have tried -- and failed -- to evoke the charm of a young James Stewart.

Heads Up:
There is a lot of violence here, including a murder depicted in silhouette, the image of a corpse and the sight of Cliff's mentor (Alan Arkin) nearly having his faced pressed onto a hot restaurant grill. At one point Dalton's villain tries to seduce Connelly's character, who plays along before knocking him unconscious.

Own It?
Yes. An entertaining exercise in Art Deco nostalgia, The Rocketeer was unfairly maligned upon its release.

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