The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension
Review of Blu ray by David Paul Hellings
Synopsis via Arrow Video:
“From the writer of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Big Trouble in Little China comes a pop-sci-fi adventure that defies convention and went on to become one of the cult hits of the 80s.
Peter Weller is Buckaroo Banzai, a physicist-neurosurgeon-martial arts master-secret agent-rock star who has just made history with his invention, the Oscillation Overthruster. The Overthruster allows him to travel to the 8th Dimension, but this feat draws the attention of the Red Lectroids, an alien race (led by Christopher Lloyd) who have teamed up with Banzai’s nemesis, the deranged Dr Lizardo (John Lithgow). Lizardo and the Red Lectroids are seeking the Overthruster to take over the world and Banzai, with his team of agents/band musicians, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, must stop them before it’s too late!
With strong references to sci-fi and pop culture that span Thomas Pynchon and Orson Welles, Buckaroo Banzai is a film made by fans for fans and counts filmmakers including Wes Anderson and Kevin Smith among its admirers”.
When “Buckaroo Banzai” was released in 1984, the question was “what is it about?” It is the same question that the cast still ask to this day. A Sci-Fi comedy, satire, allegory: you name it, it all applies. Based very much on the pulp stories of the 1930s, “Buckaroo Banzai” has a feel of a ‘Doc Savage’ about it as Buckaroo (Peter Weller) the brilliant scientist, action man, rock star, and his team of scientist experts and fellow band members, stand against an alien invasion that threatens the Earth.
Director WD Richter and Screenwriter Earl Mach Rauch defy logic to create a work that has rightly become a cult item. The SFX may be dated, the make-up may be low budget, the science is beyond cod, the clothes are a reminder that the 80s was a time where fashion wasn’t that interested in chic, but as the famous line from the film says: “So what? Big deal”. It’s a film in which fun is the name of the game. The cast play it straight and that’s the joy of the film. There’s never any in- joke, knowing attitudes that this is just a laugh and we know it, but always a seriousness as though this all makes perfect sense and 100% logical; that the alien threat is real and the genius Buckaroo and his team (plus the help of Rasta aliens) are the only ones that can save our planet.
“Buckaroo Banzai” would never get made now. In a studio system crippled by three-act structure that’s poured over by a committee of execs, readers and marketing departments lacking imagination, they’d find a million reasons why a film like this would never get the green light. More’s the pity. “Buckaroo Banzai” is a reminder of a time when studios and producers took risks and created unique material. It’s a film that you watch, have a good time doing so, and then immediately want to watch again. Does it all make sense? Of course not. “So what? Big deal”.
The Blu ray itself looks fabulous, bringing new life to a much-loved film.
Crazy, silly, fun. How else can you describe cult classic “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension”? From the beginning all of the way through to its iconic end credit sequence, it’s a Sci-Fi pulp romp that has gained such a loyal and famous following that its UK release on Blu ray is a definite highlight of the year and continues to cement Arrow Video’s status as a key player in the release of cult classics and great films.
Highly recommended. Enormous fun.
Coming loaded with a host of exclusive and archive extras, this new disc is the complete and definitive home entertainment release of “Buckaroo Banzai” featuring an audio commentary with writer-director W.D. Richter and Reno (writer Earl Mac Rauch) and an archive Q&A with stars Peter Weller and John Lithgow moderated by filmmaker Kevin Smith.
Alongside this, the disc also features brand new interviews with Weller and Lithgow (shot in April 2015), “Buckaroo Banzai Declassified” an original featurette on the making of the film featuring W.D. Richter, stars Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin and John Lithgow, as well as a visual essay by critic and author Matt Zoller Seitz. Other features include an alternate opening featuring Jamie Lee Curtis and a host of deleted scenes taken directly from the work print.
Rounding off the Blu-ray is the iconic, title-free closing sequence, trailers, Banzai Radio, Easter Egg and a gallery, presented with original and new artwork packaging by Matthew Griffin and a collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by critic James Oliver and illustrated with original stills.
High Definition Digital transfer of the film from original elements by MGM
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Stereo
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary with writer-director W.D. Richter and Reno (writer Earl Mac Rauch)
The Tao of Buckaroo: A brand new interview with Peter Weller on his role as Buckaroo
Lord John: A brand new interview with John Lithgow who discusses working on the film
Buckaroo Banzai Declassified – An original featurette on the making of the film featuring W.D. Richter, stars Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow and more!
Lincoln Center Q&A featuring Peter Weller and John Lithgow moderated by filmmaker and Buckaroo fan Kevin Smith, filmed as part of the 2011 New York Film Festival
Adventures in the 8th Dimension: A visual essay by critic and author Matt Zoller Seitz
Alternate opening featuring Jamie Lee Curtis
Closing sequence presented without credits
Deleted scenes, featuring fourteen scenes from the workprint
New Jet Car Trailer and Teaser Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver, illustrated with original stills
|Release Date||Monday 20th July 2015|
|Language||English (English Subtitles)|
|Running Time||103 minutes|
|Blu-ray Cat Number||FCD1119|
Released by Arrow Video
This review originally appeared on SFFWorld: