ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI
Review by Gordon Justesen
Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Goldblum, Lewis
Smith, Ronald Lacey
Director: W.D. Richter
Audio: DTS HD 5.1, DTS HD 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Shout Factory
Features: See Review
Length: 102 Minutes
Release Date: August 16, 2016
“Buckaroo, The White House wants to know is everything ok with the alien spacecraft from Planet 10 or should we just go ahead and destroy Russia?”
“Tell him yes on one and no on two.”
Film *** (On the cheese scale)
If there was ever a movie crying out not to be taken seriously whatsoever, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is indeed such a movie. In what other movie will you ever find a central character who is a neurosurgeon, a scientist, a time traveler, a comic book legend, and a rock and roll superstar at the same time? Where other movie has had the audacity to contain an alien invasion plot where aliens plot to take over the universe by simply hiding behind walls and in wooden tables? Buckaroo Banzai is certainly an odd movie experience, but an extremely fun, dishing out as much cheese as one movie can possibly dish out.
The central plot consists of Buckaroo (Peter Weller) becoming the first man to speed travel to the mysterious Eight Dimension, and not be affected by it whatsoever. The movie’s villain has been affected in a major way by a similar attempt. The once brilliant Dr. Lizardo (John Lithgow) has been completely taken over by a deadly alien force known as the Lectroids, and is intending to do the alien race a favor by exterminating life on earth, along with his henchman known as John Bigboote (Christopher Lloyd). The Lectroids plot soon faces a serious thorn when Buckaroo is given the ability to see through certain Lectroid disguises, including human form.
Buckaroo’s elite team consists of New Jersey (Jeff Goldblum), the scientific brains of the bunch, vehicles specialist Pretty Tommy (Lewis Smith), Buckaroo’s second in command Rawhide (Clancy Brown), and the beautiful Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin), who is not really Buckaroo’s flame, who’s dead, but her identical twin sister. This team poses as both Buckaroo’s back up team, otherwise known as Team Banzai, but the members of Buckaroo’s rock n’ roll band, known as The Honk Kong Cavilers. Something tells me every cult fan’s favorite part is when Buckaroo says to his fans on stage, “Hey, don’t be mean. We don’t have to be mean because remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
I mentioned how high on the cheese scale Buckaroo Banzai is, but I must confess, for a movie made in 1984, the special effects are pretty impressive. The opening scene, in which Buckaroo speed travels through the Eight Dimension, contains some of the most exciting effects to be seen in any other movie at the time, other than the Star Wars and Star Trek films. The movie also contains some pretty cool futuristic set pieces, including the design of the Lectroids’ spaceship, and Buckaroo’s laboratory.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai just might be one of the greatest intentionally cheesy movies ever made. Those who are open to something a lot different than what is usually offered by Hollywood are in for something of an usual treat.
Shout Factory has finally brought one of my most eagerly anticipated Blu-ray releases to vivid life with fantastic results. The picture is a glorious one, with superbly bright colors, crisp image quality. Colors are definitely a high point on this Blu-ray disc, with every possible color used in a scene turning up with total vibrant realization. Shout should be thoroughly congratulated for the flawless turnout on this now thirty two year old release!
Likewise for the audio department, Shout delivers the sound goods with this tremendous DTS HD mix! Like you’d expect from most sci-fi movies, the sound is consistently sharp, all around in terms of present, and superbly heard in the entire presentation. Music playback is tremendously handled as is dialogue delivery!
As great as the initial DVD release was in the way of extras, the two disc Blu-ray provided by Shout Factory is absolutely worth upgrading to. The main attraction here is an all new documentary titled “Into the Eighth Dimension”, which runs well over two hours and features in-depth interviews with countless members of the cast and crew, who detail every possible little tidbit you always wanted to know about this cult favorite. Also included on Disc One are two commentaries: one with director W.D. Richter and writer Earl Mac Rauch and a brand new one with Michael and Denise Okuda, who are well known in the Star Trek universe.
On Disc Two, a bonus DVD, we get extras ported over from the MGM DVD release, including a nice documentary titled “Banzai: Declassified”, a huge deleted scenes archive, an extended opening, a Jet Car All Access feature, and a teaser trailer. Not all the extras from that release made it onto this new one, but this is nonetheless a wonderfully put together package from Shout Factory!
Clearly, not a movie for everyone, but for those seeking a different kind of comic adventure, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension is a one of a kind ride that is both thrilling and humorous. Shout Factory’s brand new Blu-ray release is a definitive must have!