Review: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Blu-ray: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8TH Dimension makes its Blu-ray debut from Arrow Films and it’s a thing of absolute joy.
The title alone is as epic as the film. A pure anomaly of 80’s cinema that brought together literally the finest filmmaking and acting talent of the time and somehow managed to make a film so ridiculous and yet captivating that I was almost afraid to write about it.
Before I get to the film I must say, as usual Arrow has put together the DEFINITIVE edition of this nostalgic classic. From the 1080p HD transfer to the DTS-HD master audio, Banzai looks and sounds incredible.
As for the film itself; we have the story of a dashing, young surgeon/rock star/pop culture hero, who is attempting to break the land speed record while simultaneously trying out a secret dimension bending tool he and one of his adopted fathers has created…. and that’s just the first 10 minutes!
The plot follows Buckaroo and his assembled team of friends that constitute the ‘Hong Kong cavaliers’ as they stumble upon an imminent alien invasion, thanks to their interdimensional meddling. Parallel to this is the sub plot of Dr Lazaro who is possessed by an evil alien who also worked on the inter-dimensional overthruster with Buckaroos friend before WW2, are you still with me? Basically if you have never seen this film, stop now and go buy this Blu-ray. It’s something you have never seen the likes of before or will again. A film that is free of genre, mashing up sci-fi, romance and drops you into the middle of a pre-existing superhero universe that you never really get to learn about. That may sound like a stretch but is so worth the ride.
Buckaroo Banzai is a total sci-fi romp, played out with its tongue firmly in its cheek and yet wringing performances of note and entertaining the shit out of you at the same time. I’m talking about Oscar winner John Lithgow, devouring every scene as alien possessed scientist ‘Dr Lizaro’. Peter Weller, never cooler than or as energetic as the title role of Buckaroo Banzai. In addition to these two brilliant central performances are Jeff Goldblum, Clancy Brown, Ellen Barkin, Dan Hedaya, and Christopher Lloyd (who spends most of the film under alien make up). Some ensemble for a way out there sci-fi movie!
Screen writer W.D. Richter is at the helm and does fine job, the film is beautifully shot and paced. Richter was already a staple in the sci-fi genre after scripting Philip Kaufman’s superior ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ remake (also available on Arrow Blu-ray) and John Badham’s ‘Dracula’ (another forgotten classic) and then went on to script ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ (another that is available on Arrow Blu-ray) The real shame here is as soon as you fall in love with the films characters’ and vibe, you are teased with a proposed sequel that unfortunately never happened…. typical Hollywood, just when they have something original!!!
I ADORE this film, it maybe overstretching its ambition and ask the viewer to drop into the middle of a story but those are minor retrospective quibbles. It was ahead of its time in using pop culture references and has influenced many film makers afterwards. If you want a real B movie starring some of the best actors of their generation, aliens, pre-cgi special effects and a marvellous 80’s synth soundtrack then look no further. Buckaroo Banzai could have been a franchise but, alas we will have to just watch this film over and over…and over. I mean, I have. It’s awesome.
Review by Ramrod (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films.