The Rocketeer Directed by Joe Johnston. Screenplay by Danny Bilson & Paul De Meo; story by Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo & William Dear; based upon the comic book by Dave Stevens. Produced by Charles Gordon, Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin. Music by James Horner. Photographed by Hiro Narita. Edited by Arthur Schmidt. Production designed by James D. Bissell. Starring Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton, Paul Sorvino, Terry O’Quinn, Ed Lauter, James Handy, Jon Polito, William Sanderson.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Written, directed and production designed by Kerry Conran. Produced by Jon Avnet, Sadie Frost, Jude Law, Marsha Oglesby. Music by Edward Shearmur. Photographed by Eric Adkins. Edited by Sabrina Plisco. Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Gambon, Bai Ling, Omid Djalili, Angelina Jolie, Laurence Olivier
Of all the period piece adventure films of recent years, There are two movies I still remember with a great deal of fondness., I mean, of course, The Roicketeer (1991), and Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow (2004). They both represent a brand of innocence that despite simplistic storylines and somewhat flimsy plots that still manage to engage your heart and mind with enthusiasm and gets you to cheer for the heroes and just as heroic dames of that long-ago time. There’s no denying these films are just plain fun. There’s just something about these movies that resonate with me, and the idea of a team-up involving the characters of both films fills my imagination with joy. The idea of the aerial acrobatics a partnership of these two characters implies is enough to make me giggle just thinking about it. It would be glorious.
Both movies embrace with open arms the treasure chest of material that influenced Raiders of the Lost Ark: movie serials, comic books, pulp adventure novels, etc. In a lot of ways, both movies are more-or-less the children of Raiders, but in each case, these films are lacking in some of the qualities that made Raiders so great. A new and improved updated narrative involving a team-up of the two characters would be required to add some of the wit and self-aware humor of the material present in the film that inspired their creation.
There’s just something about the nature of a WWII-era adventure story that fills me with delight. It’s a period that has a lot of style and lends itself readily to a more symbolic representation that when well done is like a welcome picture postcard reminding the viewer of an archetypical natural home. The result is less realism, and more an idealized fantasy version of the 1930s and 40’s, where every car is a Packard, every hero is a two-fisted tough guy, and every woman has luscious lips and an appetite for tastefully-cut dresses and wears high heels like they were born in them. A time where nightclubs were nightclubs, and reporters were fast-talking wisecrackers, and people were suave, and architecture was gloriously art-deco, and formalwear was as natural as wearing pajamas, and good and evil were clearly defined. Its all part of a welcome break from the world of today in exchange for few moments in a world we sometimes need to be reminded of once in awhile.
Let’s not forget the villains have an essential part to play too. Whether they are robots or human, in any fantasy of this sort, a sometimes seemingly endless supply of bad guys is called for so the heroes can mow them down like bowling pins. And just like a retro James Bond movie there always a mastermind behind the scenes that is deserving of a sock on the jaw or a well-placed bullet to bring his evil to a close
All this is strictly fantasy, of course, but it sure would be a grand adventure to go along on someday. I’m looking at you Disney.