The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Disney - 1991
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 109 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French
Starring: Billy Campbell, Alan Arkin, Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton, Paul Sorvino, Ed Lauter, Terry O'Quinn, James Handy, Jon Polito, Margo Martindale
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Music by: James Horner
Written by: Danny Bilson & Paul De Meo
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 13, 2011
"Three years before the United States declares war, Cliff Secord leads America's first battle against the Nazis"
The discovery of a top-secret jetpack hurls test pilot Cliff Secord into a daring adventure of mystery, suspense and intrigue! Cliff encounters as assortment of ruthless villains, led by a Hollywood screen star who's a secret Nazi spy (Timothy Dalton). With the help of his actress girlfriend, the young pilot battles enormous odds to defeat his foes, who are anxious to use the device in an evil plan to rule the world! The dangerous misson transforms the ordinary young man into an extraordinary hero!
The Rocketeer is a period superhero film that combines action, adventure and romance via a 1930's style narrative that depicts Hollywood, gangsters, Nazis, and early aviation. The character is taken right from the pages of writer/artist Dave Stevens' comic. The plot revolves around a young pilot, Cliff, and his mentor/best friend Peevee, that inadvertently come into possession of a stolen secret jetpack prototype designed by none other than Howard Hughes. Unbeknown to them, the Nazis, through the use of a spy are seeking, by any means necessary, to obtain the jetpack to spearhead their plans for world domination. Meanwhile the FBI is racing to recover it before it falls into the wrong hands. Things begin to escalate and the bad guys resort to kidnapping Cliff's girlfriend Jenny. With time running out, and with Peevee's help, Cliff dons the jetpack to become The Rocketeer, in order to swoop in and hopefully save the day.
I saw The Rocketeer in the theater back in the day and have been a fan ever since. It's one of those movies that I catch on cable from time to time but have never gotten around to picking up on home video. I jumped at the chance to review it when I saw the press announcement. This is a wonderful throwback piece that harkens back to a time when movie heroes and villains wore black and white. The period style script is straight forward, providing a little mystery/intrigue, a cache of well drawn characters, and dialogue/situations that effectively capture the essence of the source material. Newcomer (at the time) Billy Campbell is perfectly charming in the lead role opposite my girl Jennifer Connelly, who never disappoints, and the always likeable Alan Arkin. The supporting cast is comprised of a host of quality actors that add to the enjoyment of the film. The Rocketeer is fun, wholesome family entertainment that provides a rewarding bit of escapism via a timeless theme of adventure/heroism which serves as an homage to film serials of a bygone era. I am thrilled that it has come to Blu-ray Disc.
The rating is for thematic material and violence,
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Rocketeer comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.1 Mbps.
This is a solid looking high definition Blu-ray catalog release from Disney. Boasting digitally restored imagery quality it features clean, well depicted colors that offer a good mix of secondary hues that mate well with the source material. The earth tones appear very natural as the green grass, sifted sod, and period clothing look great. Reds are deeply saturated and brighter colors such as the yellows are rich and visually enticing. Resolution is definable with varying degrees of refinement that can be scene dependent. Sharpness wavers, which results in some scenes offering lucid clarity while others are noticeably lacking well defined edges and finely rendered detail. Fidelity may be questionable here and there but I believe that in most instances these minor issues are innate and probably attributable to the use of lighting, hazy/smoke filled environs and the film stock used. Black and white levels are stable which gives a fair level of pop to colors and brighter exterior sequences while keeping darker or low lit segments looking noticeably punchy with crisp, quiet blacks with visibly gradational detail in shadowy backgrounds. Grain is present with a prominent texture and film like rendering that occasionally takes on heavier emphasis but it never bothered me. Having seen this in the theater some 20 years ago I have no recollection of how this presentation compares. What I can say is that it makes for a gratifying high definition viewing experience.
The high resolution DTS-HD MA audio mix does a terrific job rendering the film's soundtrack. Dialogue has discernible intonation, with refining clarity and excellent room penetration. This is a more or less front oriented presentation that makes good use of the entire system to deliver a seamlessly integrated audio experience that is highlighted by solid impact, definitive detail, and James Horner's memorable music score. Dynamic range is quite good and doesn't seem limited by the dated elements present in the recording. Sounds and effects have copious expression that extend well into the room. Surround activity isn't constant but when applied can be engaging as discernible spatial ambience and discrete sounds fill the listening area. The LFE channel is similarly used to add weight that extends low bass frequencies. The soundtrack runs the gamut and contains a variety of sounds/effects. Each is presented with discerning audible presence via a well integrated surround mix that comes to life when the action kicks in.
- Theatrical trailer
It's hard to believe that it has been twenty years since the release of The Rocketeer. Its timeless theme of action/adventure/heroism set to a charming and well executed old generation film style holds up quite nicely and makes for fun, wholesome family entertainment. It makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring newly restored high definition video and crystal clear DTS-HD Master Audio sound that offer fans the opportunity to see this wonderful film looking and sounding better than ever. The lack of bonus features is disappointing but not unexpected since the DVD release didn't contain any either. Regardless, I am thrilled to own The Rocketeer on Blu-ray and look forward to spinning it again.
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Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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