OK, so now we’ve see the entire King of the Rocket Men serial…although according to my stats, “we” is a very small number. Still, it’s time for me to look over all twelve chapters and do what I do here…review it.
This was the first appearance of the flying suit of the franchise, and for it’s time it was pretty good. I’m not sure how the dials work exactly. Does one control flight speed and the other up or down? How? I’m not sure it was that thought out. Compare it to the Rocketeer, where he just has the thruster control buttons and the pilot controls the angle of flight with his body.
The acting is fairly decent. Nothing outstanding, but I believed the characters, or at least was distracted enough. I haven’t seen a serial with high-quality acting but I’ve seen better than this one. Still, the actors and actress did their jobs well enough to keep me in the world. The fights could have used a little work, with the sound effects selling punches more than the actors did. Everyone just seemed able to take too many hits before they were even stunned. Not having seen an actual fist fight, I couldn’t say how realistic it was, but it wasn’t as exciting to watch as the gun fights.
The story itself is serviceable. Republic serials seem to like using the “villain is hiding among us” gimmick, as most if not all of their serials I’ve seen use this routine. However, since we barely see the other members of Science Associates together like some other serials (The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Zorro’s Fighting Legion come to mind, both of which went this route with their mysterious villain that even the audience doesn’t know the identity of) it’s tough to join in with the mystery. Keeping Jeff King’s identity as Rocket Man a secret was believable, as Rocket Man didn’t fly in and save the day all the time, and King was as much a threat to Dr. Vulcan as his alter ego.
The serial’s biggest failing, however, is the cliffhangers. If you’ve been reading my comments around each video, you know how underwhelmed I was. Sometimes the escape was obvious; you don’t throw the guy in the flying suit out of a window and expect me not to think “gee, I wonder if he’ll just fly away?”, and sometime the answer was Jeff waking up and walking out. It’s like having a cliffhanger more out of tradition than anything else.
In a nutshell, King of the Rocket Men was serviceable, but ultimately it should best be known for the rocket men to follow, Commando Cody, Larry Martin, and Cliff Secord. This is where it began, but there was room for improvement. I liked it, but only just.
- Saturday Night Serial: King of the Rocketmen Ch. 1
- Saturday Night Serial: King of the Rocketmen #2
- Saturday Night Serial: King of the Rocket Men chapter 3
- Saturday Night Serial: King of the Rocket Men Chapter 4
- Saturday Night Serial: King of the Rocket Men Ch. 5
- Saturday Night Serial> King of the Rocket Men Ch. 6
- Saturday Night Serial> King of the Rocket Men ch. 7
- Saturday Night Serial> King of the Rocket Men ch.8
- Saturday Night Serial: King of the Rocket Men Ch. 9
- Saturday Night Serial: King of the Rocket Men #10
- Saturday Night Serial> King of the Rocket Men Ch.11
- Saturday Night Serial> King of the Rocket Men: conclusion