Joe Johnston accurately replicates the look and feel of ‘30s serials with The Rocketeer – too accurately, in fact, for his film’s own good. Fidelity to period details is matched by a faithful spirit of pre-WWII aw-shucks superhero blandness in this comic book-y saga (based on Dave Stevens’ graphic novel), which finds flyboy Cliff (Bill Campbell) becoming an unlikely hero after he gains possession of an experimental jetpack that was stolen from Howard Hughes (Terry O’Quinn) by gangsters working for Errol Flynn-ish movie hero Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton). Aided by mechanical wiz Peevy (Alan Arkin), Cliff learns to operate the new device while evading wiseguy Eddie’s (Paul Sorvino) henchmen and protecting his girlfriend Jenny (Jennifer Connelly), yet director Johnston provides few moments of actual gee-whiz wonder and excitement, too often leaving his hero earthbound in scenarios that lack any pizzazz. A few shots of Cliff in his golden, winged Rocketeer helmet capture a sense of early 20th-century pop-Americana iconography, and Connelly is so radiant and alluring that the film can barely contain its own drooling, which reaches its apex during a scene in which the camera – following a leering W.C. Fields’ (Bob Leeman) gaze – pans directly down to her buxom chest. Even with its nifty pre-CG special effects, however, the thin, torpid The Rocketeer almost never takes thrilling flight.