Apparently ‘reboot fever’, in which old properties are
exhumed dusted off dragged from the archives for the purpose of maintaining rights ownership revisited for a new generation, has struck the folks at Disney, who are developing a new Rocketeer project. Originally a comic book, The Rocketeer was already made into a movie in the early 1990s. It’s the story of a depression-era airplane mechanic who finds a rocket jet-pack (complete with cool art-deco helmet whose flanges act as rudders for steering), and his adventures thereof as dastardly folk try to get hold of the jet pack for military purposes. (There’s even a Nazi propaganda movie showing an immense armada of Nazi soldiers flying across the Atlantic with their jet-packs to conquer the USA, which prompted Roger Ebert to wonder if they pack sandwiches for the trip.)
The Rocketeer was a fun movie, if memory serves; I only saw it once. It’s genial and entertaining and well-made (if a bit slow in the pacing area), but it didn’t really strike me as something that needed revisiting. Little did I know. Anyway, here is a suite of James Horner’s music from The Rocketeer, which features one of his more endearing melodies. (Speaking of which, at around 40 seconds in, you can hear the first of several instances of one of Horner’s favorite compositional tricks, which I call “the James Horner Rolling Chord of Melodic Punctuation”).
I think what's happened is that, in the 20-some years since its release, The Rocketeer has developed something of a cult following, as has the late Dave Stevens, the comic-book artist and writer who created the property. (His original Rocketeer comics were recently re-released in a beautiful deluxe hardcover that sold pretty well, from what I understand.) So naturally some bean counter at Disney has taken notice.
The sad irony is that the very things that many of the movie's fans like about it — the slower pacing, the earnestness, the generally old-fashioned tone — are the very first things that any reboot is going to jettison. I shudder to think of this character being reinterpreted through the modern action-movie idiom, with the jittery camera work and the snarky, post-ironic veneer… ugh.
The one potentially positive thing about a reboot is that Disney might FINALLY revisit the original film on DVD/BluRay and give us a decent package with some extras and a better transfer, a la Tron.
LOVED the comic book. Never saw the movie.