Combustible Celluloid
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With: Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton, Terry O'Quinn, Ed Lauter, James Handy, Paul Sorvino, Jon Polito, William Sanderson, Margo Martindale, John Lavachielli, Clint Howard, Melora Hardin, Rick Overton, Max Grodénchik, Tiny Ron Taylor, Eddie Jones, Don Pugsley, Nada Despotovich, America Martin, Michael Milhoan, Daniel O'Shea, Joe D'Angerio, Tommy J. Huff, Pat Crawford Brown, Paul DeSouza, Gene Daily, Bob Leeman, Julian Barnes
Written by: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, based on a story by Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, William Dear, and on a comic book by Dave Stevens
Directed by: Joe Johnston
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 108
Date: 06/19/1991

The Rocketeer (1991)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Flight Young Things

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Joe Johnston, who worked on visual FX and won an Oscar for Raiders of the Lost Ark, launched his own directorial career in 1989, creating a series of spirited, sleek adventures steeped in nostalgia and America. Looking back at The Rocketeer many years later, it's not hard to see its connections to October Sky, Hidalgo, and Captain America: The First Avenger. It's a movie that's almost all surface, but its love of a simpler time -- when bad guys were easily spotted -- comes through. Pilot Cliff (Bill Campbell) and his loyal mechanic Peevy (Alan Arkin) find a stolen rocket pack in their plane. Actor Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) is actually a Nazi agent who wants to get his hands on the rocket, and so Cliff must become a superhero to save the day, and his beautiful girlfriend, Jenny Blake (Jennifer Connelly). There's a big showdown inside, and on top of, a Nazi dirigible. Terry O'Quinn plays Howard Hughes, who invented the gizmo. James Horner provided the rousing score. The movie could have used more superhero action, and its PG rating prevented from reproducing the sex appeal that the comic book had (the Jenny character was famously designed after pinup legend Bettie Page). Either way, it didn't perform well, and if there were any plans for sequels, they were abandoned.

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