Release Date: December 13, 2011
Running Time: 109 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS HD-MA
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French
Special Features: Theatrical Trailer
A brash young pilot (Bill Campbell) finds an experimental rocket pack that makes him an overnight hero, but a movie star spy (Timothy Dalton) and Howard Hughes (Terry O’Quinn) are also searching for the rocket.
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Joe Johnston, the director of this 1991 action adventure, has some serious credentials among film geeks. He worked on both the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies, and is directly responsible for those films being so awesome. He directed Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, and The Wolfman before directing his best film, this past summer’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
The Rocketeer may not have the zing he perfected for Captain America, but it is a close cousin, and still an enjoyable little period-piece adventure from Hollywood’s pre-CGI era. The look and feel of this film, based on the classic comic book by the late Dave Stevens, gives it a unique energy that was fully realized in telling the origin of the Marvel superhero.
I consider myself a big fan of The Rocketeer, and enjoyed it when I first saw it opening weekend. In the years since, my appreciation has grown, as I wondered why Disney had not given this great flick a high-def release. The incredibly underrated Bill Campbell makes for a great leading man as Cliff Secord, and Jennifer Connolly is a perfect mix of old Hollywood glamour and modern day hotness as his girlfriend Jenny. Sure Connolly may have changed her look and won an Oscar in the years since, but in my book, no woman tops the Rocketeer Jennifer Connolly.
At the time, the movie did not garner quite the critical acclaim it should have, and it did need more action, more humor, and perhaps a bigger budget to give it a more epic feel. Despite the shortcomings, The Rocketeer never loses its heart or sense of adventure. It is great fun, and is safe for families with younger kids to watch (parents, however, should be aware of some brief profanity and a scene of sensuality). I thoroughly enjoyed watching this Blu-ray in my man cave as my original one-sheet from the film signed by Dave Stevens hangs on my wall. Welcome home, Rocketeer.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The previous DVD release of The Rocketeer was a low-quality, non-anamorphic transfer, that left much to be desired. Thankfully, Disney has given us a high-definition transfer from a restored print of the film, and it looks absolutely fantastic. Colors during the daytime scenes are bright and super sharp, providing a level of detail viewers have likely never seen, even in theaters. A lot of the action takes place at night, and those scenes really stand out, with little film grain visible. Once again, Disney has provided a top-notch video tranfer.
A new 5.1 DTS HD sound mix is impressive, providing lots of activity through the channels and a significant amount of bass when the rocket blasts off. The wonderful James Horner soundtrack never sounded better.
Unfortunately, Disney failed to include any special features worth mentioning on the disc. We get a trailer, which is exactly what we got on the original 1999 DVD release. For a studio that makes it a point to pack even the most minor video release with some extras, the lack of anything other than a trailer is inexcusable. Especially when Disney hosted a retrospective this past summer which featured a Q&A with director Joe Johnston and star Bill Campbell, how could they not include video of this event on the disc, when it could have easily been included? For a 20th anniversary edition of a film with a huge cult following, the lack of effort put into this release (outside of the high-def transfer) is shameful.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Overall Grade: B+
The lack of extras is inexcusable on Disney’s part, but if you are a fan of The Rocketeer, this is a must buy. To finally see this film in beautiful high definition is fantastic, with a great soundtrack to boot. Just do not pay full retail, pick this disc up on sale, and let this movie take you away once more.
The Rocketeer is now available on Blu-ray from Walt Disney Home Entertainment.