The Rocketeer (1991)

Director : Joe Johnston

This Disney movie is set in 1938, California. A rocket pack, designed to be strapped on someone's back, designed by Howard Hughes is stolen by gangsters. When the FBi pursues, they hide the pack. Hughes burns the plans because he lost some men in the test phase.

Stunt pilot Cliff Secord and his mechanic Peevy discover the hidden pack in a plane. Cliff begins to experiment with the pack, but Peevy wants to be more cautious. Peevy hooks up a mannequin to the rocket pack and sets it off.

Gangster Eddie Valentine renegotiates with Nazi secret agent, movie star Neville Sinclair (an Errol Flynn type - Errol was also accused of having been a Nazi spy), who will double the original price for the pack.

Cliff visits his girlfriend's film set, in a Neville Sinclair film, and knocks over the scenery which gets Jenny fired. Neville overhears Cliff telling Jenny about the rocket pack. Sinclair now knows where the rocket pack is. He invites jenny out to dinner.

Cliff decides he can make money using the rocket pack. At an airshow, wearing a Peevy designed helmet, when a friend is in trouble in his plane he goes up after him, and the media dubs him The Rocketeer. Cliff isn't too good with the pack yet but he does save his friend.

Jenny goes out to dinner with Sinclair, but Cliff finds out about Sinclair's real intentions. He gets in his suit and fires up to go to Jenny's rescue. Sinclair and his men and Cliff battle it out in the middle of the restaurant. Cliff escapes but Sinclair takes Jenny. Eddie Valentine calls Cliff and tells him to bring the pack or he will have to kill Jenny.

Cliff gets picked up by the FBI. Peevy explains to Howard Hughes how he improved the rocket pack. Cliff escapes with the rocket pack to go rescue Jenny. When Eddie Valentine finds out Sinclair is a Nazi he switches teams. He may be a crook but he is all American.

As to be expected in a Disney movie the Nazi gets whats coming to him, Cliff gets the girl and the good guys get a new plane.

In his 3 Star review Roger Ebert says : "The hero of The Rocketeer" is being marketed as a new action hero along the lines of Indiana Jones, but the difference between this movie and the Indy series is fundamental: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" took the Saturday afternoon serials of the late 1930s and 1940s as an inspiration, while The Rocketeer takes them as a model. Indy kidded them, The Rocketeer copies them. The movie lacks the wit and self-mocking irony of the Indiana Jones movies, and instead seems like a throwback to the simple-minded, clean-cut sensibility of a less complicated time.

The Rocketeer is a superhero like Batman, who depends on special equipment to make him super. Interesting because it is one of the most realistic of all the superhero movies. Corny and predictable but still a pretty good Disney family movie.