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The Rocketeer 20th Anniversary Blu Ray : What a die hard fan desires in a release!

Wednesday 14th December 2011 by Shane O'Hare

Today, in my usual fashion, I read news that came out OVER TWO MONTHS AGO! My all time without-a-doubt-never-topped favorite movie The Rocketeer is getting a Blu Ray release this December 13th, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the film. I am so happy I could DANCE!

As you can see, I am a HUGE fan.

So besides the AMAZING news of the release, that’s all we know. The Blu Ray contains the movie and Disney hasn’t told us ANYTHING else. So what does the biggest (boned) fan of the film, what would I like to see on the magic Blu disc? COME WITH ME!

What do we want?

Literally anything at this point. You think a comic book movie made with amazing practical effects, with one single effect costing over $400,000, that features a flying man who fights Nazis would have an AMAZING set of behind the scenes footage on the DVD release. Right? Let me show you what the special features list on the DVD are:

Pretty dismal right? Not even a freakin’ commentary, and with the creator of The Rocketeer, Dave Stevens, passing away in 2008 there is no way we will ever get the opportunity to hear what this man put creatively not only into the character but this film. Seriously Disney, what the hell? This movie means so much to me. One of my earliest memories is of me and my Dad watching this on our local ABC channel one Sunday afternoon, my dad surprising me with a copy he made of it while it was on another time, and subsequently getting better quality versions recorded with better players. One of my very first PC games was The Rocketeer game. My favorite film score is, DUH, The Rocketeer, composed my James Horner. So lets continue our journey and I will weave you an image of what a proper DVD release should be like.

Production started on The Rocketeer in 1983, with the first director being Steve Miner, but he dragged his heels and his concept was said to “stray too far from the original idea”. I’m glad, because he went on to direct such shining gems such as Halloween: H20 and Dawsons Creek. We got Joe Johnston the man who helped create Yoda and Boba Fett, who admittedly PEAKED as a director on this film (sorry Captain America, you were just ALRIGHT). With screenwriters and contributors WIlliam Dear , Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo being fired and rehired over the next few years, writing and replacing the shitty dialogue the people who they were fired for and then rehired to replace. Then Disney (DAMN YOU, EISNER) sat on it for a while until they realized they can sell toys after the Tim Burton Gothic Batman and Warren Beaty Dick Tracy movies came out. 

The movie starred Bruce Campbell’s second cousin Bill Campbell, who is afraid to fly, as the accidental hero. The only thing that would make his character better in this movie is if Jennifer Lopez guest starred as a Nazi in this movie so he could get the opportunity to beat her up twice. I guess one reason I love this movie is it’s my first experience with Jennifer Connelly and her wonderful wonderful breasts. Then we have the bad guys. The sidekick Lothars character was based off the 1930’s actor Rondo Hatton who was disfigured by a disease, and was also the inspiration for the comic book character Goon. Timothy Dalton was hired to play Neville Sinclair, whom sat down with the writers and rewrote the character who was deemed “One dimensional”. How could a Nazi spy be deemed one dimensional? I can’t fucking tell. They based the actor and his movie filming sequences off of Erroll Flynn (the movie they are filming in the movie is called the “Laughing Bandit”, while at the same period in time Flynn was filming Robin Hood) who was really rumored to be in kahoots with the Gnatsies. 

The animation sequence in the movie was directed by Mark Dindal, who later did Emperors New Groove, and was almost picked up as a full time series. We can blame Terminator and Robin Hood and people thinking a Disney movie was too kiddy and kids not really jumping for joy for Nazi fights for the eventual poor box office results.

Effects in this movie were a crazy fucking assortment. The majority of the rocket flying sequence was done with an 18inch doll and weird choppy stop motion filming with a camera Disney built that was their version of the SHAKY CAM. There is an actual rocketpack somewhere that literally shot alcohol power flames around, that sound the engine makes as it’s powering down in the movie is what it actually sounds like. The one that amazes me the most is the Zeppelin crash in the end. The effect was planned by Dick Dovo who was at the Hindenburg disaster. His father was actually ON the Hindenburg, but survived. So it’s a TAD messed up to ask the guy who watched his father almost get burned up AT FIVE YEARS OLD to plan out a Zeppelin crash. They built a 12 foot model and burned it up in front of a back drop. That cost them $400,000 dollars and damn was it worth it. 

There Disney, fucking take that! Add some fluff and some music and BAM! 


What will be special features on this Blu Ray.

So while writing this, I found some amazing news that of course I missed! This summer the high def widescreen version of this film was screened at the El Capitan for Disney Club 23 members. The movie is reported to be digitally restored with a lot of keying halos fixed. Afterwards they had a panel that was hosted by Kevin Smith that Disney was filming. Then over at the Hollywood museum they had it filled with props and costumes and what not. A guy on YouTube said in the museum they had the old ancient long lost making of documentary “Excitement In The Air” playing on screens everywhere. So I believe we will be able to see both that documentary that hasn’t been seen by the public since 1991 PLUS the Q&A panel.

Most people aren’t as excited as I am, but this movie means so much to me. Growing up with a flight instructor as a father spending my summer days on an airport, the 1938 feeling the movie conveys a time of gangsters and women like Jennifer Connelly. Take that and couple it with the sentimental value of sharing this movie with my father and I am sold. So, December 20th I will own my first Blu-Ray player. I cannot wait to see Connelly in 1080p.


Shane O'Hare

The northern most Geekscapist. I've been doing the 'scape since before it was cool! Video games are my main prerogative but I can be passionately geeky for many things.