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The Rocketeer (1991)
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The Spike
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:43 pm    Post subject: The Rocketeer (1991) Reply with quote




Rocketeer is directed by Joe Johnston and co-written by Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo and William Dear. It is based on Dave Stevens' comic book The Rocketeer. It stars Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton and Paul Sorvino. Music is scored by James Horner and cinematography by Hiro Narita.

It took eight years to get to the screen, with many rewrites, changes in personal, changes in setting and etc, the only thing consistent was Disney's inconsistency.

Once out the film received generally positive reviews but posted only a small profit, in the wake of a Tim Burton inspired reinvention of the Super Hero genre, Rocketeer fell away into cultdom, sequels planned were shelved and its reputation remains to this day one of being a misfire. Unfair say I!

Rocketeer is a lovingly crafted adventure film, nodding towards the serials of the 1930s, it's awash with period Hollywood delights, Art Deco imagery, has a damsel in distress, square jawed heroics, Nazi villains, wonderful effects and a blunderbuss Zeppelin finale.

Backed by beautiful smooth tone photography and an evocative heart stirring music score, it's a family friendly blockbuster that ticks all the requisite boxes. The quality of the action sequences still hold up today, and Johnston, who wanted the job big time, directs with a knowing grasp of the setting, and crucially he never once loses a grip on tone and pacing. There's no self parody here, no deep Fruedian dissection of the main character, just a honest to goodness good against bad axis, with a romantic cause deftly wafted over proceedings.

The role of Cliff Secord (Rocketeer) proved hard to cast, where Vincent D'Onofrio turned it down and "name" actors such as Dennis Quaid, Emilio Estevez, Kurt Russell and Bill Paxton auditioned for the part. Paxton, it's believed, was very close to getting it as well. Disney wanted an A list man, Johnny Depp and Kevin Costner were mooted, but Johnston had a feel for unknown Billy Campbell and managed to convince nervous Disney heads that he was perfect.






Much of the scorn that has flown towards Rocketeer has landed at Campbell's doo. Again, this is unfair.

It's hard to tell if one of those A list actors could have made the character work better, for it helps in this instance to not have a familiar face propelling the adventure. There's an innocence, an awkwardness to Campbell's portrayal that just sits right for a guy stumbling upon a rocket pack and finding himself submerged in a chase and harry battle against bad guys.

He also has the looks, a handsome dude who creates a homespun based chemistry with the sensuous Connelly.






It's Dalton's movie, though. He's having a devil of a time as the chief villain. Modeled on Errol Flynn and the spurious notion that he was once a Nazi spy, Dalton has the looks, the gusto, the mustache twirling shiftiness and a voice perfect for such material. A roll call of great character actors fill out the support slots, with Terry O'Quinn, Paul Sorvino and Ed Lauter particularly striking the right chords.

A smashing piece of escapism, no pretensions or ideas above its station. The willingness to tap into the basic premise of a comic book actioner and entertain in grand Hollywood terms, to be applauded. And I do, and I do love it so. 8/10

I bought the music score for it as well.




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Pow
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never understood why TR was not a smash hit for Disney. It remains one of the best superhero movies ever done & should have spawned a franchise.

I'd love to have seen a Rocketeer/The Shadow team up as they fight nasty Nazis.

The Shadow film was also decent but not quite on a par with TR. Still, it was fun.
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orzel-w
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I loved the concept of The Rocketeer, but found Campbell's portrayal a little too innocent and awkward. Watching him blunder his way through a defeat of the Nazis (with a little help from gangsters) was a little too much like The Greatest American Hero TV series. It was painful watching week after week as the main character never quite got the hang of his powers.

I guess I prefer my heroes to be a bit more polished and competent. Too much Commando Cody in my youth, probably. He was the master of that rocket pack right from the get-go.

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

___________________________________

Based on my past taste in movies that weren't very successful (the sad fate of this fine movie) such as Godzilla (1998), Evolution (2001), and a few others I can't think of right off hand, it would seem that I'm partial to movies that are on the lighthearted side, like The Rocketeer.

To be honest, Campbell impressed me with his bravery when he strapped on the rocket pack and learned how to fly it the hard way — from a thousand feet in the air.

His very first flight was the rescue of good old Malcolm when he got into trouble in Mable — the aging bi-plane. And the scene in which we see Campbell "blunder his way through a defeat of the Nazis (with a little help from gangsters)" was one of my favorite parts.

It was funny to see "Americans of all types" banding together against the evil Nazis! And when Bill stands next to the American flag, checks his pistol and prepares to blast off, we hear a voice say, "Look! It's the Rocketeer!" — I just tingle all over!
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Pow
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed, that scene of the Rocketeer standing by the flag is thrilling.

Also love the scene where the Shadow (invisible) goes into the lair of his enemy for the final showdown.
As the music swells the Shadow becomes visible on a stair landing with his cloak swirling around him & his iconic laugh. One cool moment!
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

orzel-w wrote:
Watching him blunder his way through a defeat of the Nazis (with a little help from gangsters) was a little too much like The Greatest American Hero TV series.

Rereading this thread today caused me to think about the above statement and why I don't agree with it in this case. Here it is in a nutshell.

When I'm watching a movie, I want as much help as possible with my "suspension of disbelief". I want see evidence that refutes my conscious knowledge that it's all a fake.

So, if someone lifts a heavy object, I want see them grunt and strain (at least a little), no matter how strong they're supposed to be. Otherwise I don't believe it's heavy.

If a character figures out something complex, I want to see them furrow their brow or stare off into space for a moment. Otherwise I don't believe they did the necessary thinking.

And when a character does something that requires bravery — when they have to conquer their own fear to get the job done — I need to see them wrestling with that fear and doubt.

Otherwise I don't believe they're really in danger.

Heroes can't be square-jawed and steely-eyed all the time. If they are, they just look like actors posing for the camera.

Yes, Wayne, I know. You're just saying he was a little too much the "average guy" in those scenes. I get it. We just differ in our response to that scene and the amount of "averageness" this particular hero displayed.
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orzel-w
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the hero is too average, you get the feeling that anybody could have accomplished the task. The hero at least needs to be "cast of a heroic mold". (Don't ask me where that came from. My Dad used to say it all the time.)
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Robert (Butch) Day
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
You're just saying he was a little too much the "average guy" in those scenes.

And that was the point. Cliff Secord was just the average guy who had to swallow and learn what all heroes learn — just do the job Not for yourself but for the ones you love (whether it's a person or a concept)!
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Custer
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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this thread needs some Dave Stevens art showcasing his creation - so I've just scanned (and cropped away some of the margins) the back cover of 1982's Starslayer #2 from Pacific Comics, which was where all this started:



The first serial actually had Doc Savage and his crew in it, though it would have been a bit expensive to actually identify them by name. Having them in the movie would have been fun, if impractical! Smile
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

orzel-w wrote:
If the hero is too average, you get the feeling that anybody could have accomplished the task. The hero at least needs to be "cast of a heroic mold". (Don't ask me where that came from. My Dad used to say it all the time.)

I see your point, but I think the "heroic mold" your dad was talking about is a man's ability to conquer his normal human fears and doubts so that the important job can be done and the day can be saved.

So, what I want to see in a hero who isn't "super" by nature is a person who overcomes his human frailty and rises to the challenge, allowing him to do things that anybody could do — but not everybody would do under the extreme circumstances.

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ralfy
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Disney's Developing a Rocketeer Sequel with a Black, Female Rocketeer"

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/07/28/the_rocketeer_sequel_will_have_a_black_female_rocketeer.html
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ralfy wrote:
"Disney's Developing a Rocketeer Sequel with a Black, Female Rocketeer"

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/07/28/the_rocketeer_sequel_will_have_a_black_female_rocketeer.html

What the hell, let's just go all out and make her a Moslem lesbian too. It would be a shame to leave out any sensitive minorities. Rolling Eyes
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Brent Gair
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
What the hell, let's just go all out and make her a Moslem lesbian too. Gee, it would be a shame to leave out any sensitive minorities. Rolling Eyes

Wouldn't surprise me...especially from the modern incarnation of Disney.

Other examples of odd casting.

When NBC aired the hugely successful SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE with Carrie Underwood, they made the Mother Superior of the convent black. This was set in Austria in 1938...a country that was arguably even more Nazi than Germany itself. And we are to believe that in 1938, a Nazi, Aryan country with a conservative Catholic church would have a black Mother Superior?

NBC will be presenting HAIRSPRAY LIVE this fall. They have cast Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton. I think Ariana Grande is incredibly talented. However, her subplot is dependent on her being very white. Penny is a white girl from a conservative religious family who falls in love with a black man...much to the horror of her mother. Ariana Grande herself posted that her grandparents are "heavily" Greek/North African...and Greek/North African is consistent with her Sicilian heritage. I really think Ariana Grande is terrific...but I don't buy her as a white, bible-belt girl.



BTW, a couple of years ago the Manitoba Theatre Centre presented a stage version of WHITE CHRISTMAS. ONE of the two sisters was black. Yes...ONE black sister.
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Krel
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ralfy wrote:
"Disney's Developing a Rocketeer Sequel with a Black, Female Rocketeer"

I predict that if it's actually made, it will be just as successful as the recent Ghostbusters remake.

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

The last we heard of this stupid remake was in June of 2016, so hopefully the idiots who dreamed it up have overdosed on drugs or died of strokes. Rolling Eyes

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