I am loathe to recommend any home video, dvd, or blu-ray release without at least a few decent special features. The 20th Anniversary Edition of The Rocketeer just barely qualifies as it has only one special feature, a not very good copy of the original theatrical trailer. But what they’ve done with the digital remaster makes this Blu-Ray DVD a must have for any Disney fan.
Although modern audiences are used to a new generation of CGI-laden, action heavy super hero movies, The Rocketeer stands up to the test of time. Its effects (done by Industrial Light and Magic) were cutting edge at the time and only show the occasional artifact that would be carefully eliminated in digital post-processing today. But it wasn’t just the effects that made the movie, the setting in the 1930s with all the glorious art-deco architecture and the movie stars of the day are all terrific eye candy. The digital remaster brings all that out in terrific detail.
If there was one film in the Disney pantheon I’d like to see the company revisit it would be this one. The 1980s comic book by Dave Stevens’ and the movie has influenced many a steampunk fan over the years and continues to produce new ones (like this boy who wanted a Rocketeer costume). Can we at least get a theme park ride? (Do we have to beg?)
The Rocketeer was supposed to be Disney’s big blockbuster for the summer of 1991, but it fizzled bringing in only $46.7 million. Over the years it has grown into something of a cult-classic, but it deserves more than that. I hope you will check out this new remastered version, hold your nose as the lack of special features, and enjoy a fresh look at Disney’s The Rocketeer.