HTF REVIEW: "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the Eighth Dimension!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 13, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai........

    I can tell you right now that my personal opinions
    of this movie are not going to be a popular amongst
    members of this forum. I didn't get Buckaroo Banzai
    when it was released by Vestron Video back in the
    eighties, and I still don't quite get it today.
    Yet, this piece of low-budget shlock has found a
    cult following amongst people that have been
    demanding for its release.
    As far as I can place it, Buckaroo Banzai (Peter
    Weller) is a gifted brain surgeon by day, a
    nobel prize winning scientist by night, and a
    rock guitarist on top of it all. He is the first
    man to travel into the Eighth Dimension, a world
    that makes sane men INSANE. Thus is the case with
    the demented Dr. Lizardo (John Lithgow) who is after
    Buckaroo's overthruster contraption that will enable
    him to go back to the world he once penetrated.
    Those of you that somehow view this movie as
    some sort of cult masterpiece are going to be
    extremely happy about the effort MGM has put into
    this Special Edition release. This is one of
    those releases that makes you shake your head and
    say, "this came from MGM?!".
    Frankly, I have seen MGM come a long way in a
    short year. This Special Edition ranks right up
    there with some of the better releases this year.
    To begin with, the film sports an all-new anamorphic
    2.35:1 widescreen transfer that is incredible. Picture
    is very clean and the colors...oh the colors....so
    vividly bright they are! There's a scene where
    Banzai visits Penny (Ellen Barkin) in jail. To see
    how natural her flesh tones look show that the
    accuracy in transfer was given much consideration.
    In another scene, we first meet New Jersey (Jeff
    Goldblum) who is standing in front of the tour bus.
    His rodeo shirt is vivid red. The character standing
    next to him is wearing a tie that literally glows
    neon blue. In another scene, a simple color of
    a yellow telephone vividly jumps off the screen.
    This transfer looks exceptional for a catalog title.
    The audio is also something to rave about. With
    a newly mastered 5.1 Audio Track, this soundtrack
    packs a lot of punch. Though the rear soundstage
    is reserved for music ambiance and occasional spaceship
    and helicopter flyovers, it is the front soundstage
    that packs the power. Sound is very bright with
    terrific stereo separation. Even my SV SUBWOOFER
    was extremely active throughout the film providing
    rumbling bass throughout.
    Once you pop the disc in, you are greeted with
    an elaborate menu system that mimics the cockpit
    of an alien craft with colliding asteroids outside
    the window. When selecting PLAY MOVIE you are
    presented with the choice of watching either the
    Theatrical Version or Extended Version.
    What I am unclear about is how much additional
    footage has been added to the EXTENDED VERSION.
    From what I could see in comparing, the EXTENDED
    version has an alternate opening that gives a
    clever background of Buckaroo's childhood and his
    first encounter with Professor Hikita (Robert Ito).
    This footage is just a tad rough around the edges
    and I did notice a brief picture freeze as the
    new footage switched back to the original (or vice
    versa).
    Looking at the back of the DVD box you would
    be amazed at the list of extra material that
    makes up the Special Features of this DVD.
    To begin, there is commentary with Director
    W.D. Richter and writer Earl Mac Rauch.
    I was very upset to learn there were no English
    subtitles included on this disc. Shame on MGM!
    What has replaced the subtitles is an option that
    can be turned on or off called Pinky Carruther's
    Unknown Facts. Totally in character as if part
    of the entire organization, Pinky gives us facts
    about each scene via text outside the widescreen
    borders. Want to know how fast the jet car really
    went? Want to know about Einstein's attempt to
    break the time barrier? There's a lot of interesting
    trivia that is presented to the viewer, but perhaps
    not best to watch during initial viewing as it is
    distracting.
    In case you choose not to watch the EXTENDED VERSION,
    you can simply watch the added Alternate Opening
    from the Supplemental area. As I noted, I am
    guessing this is the only added footage to the film.
    Buckaroo Banzai declassified is an elaborate,
    newly created documentary that uses original interview
    footage of all the major cast members from 1984 to
    give an overview of the film. The funny thing about
    it all is even the cast members have no idea what
    this film is about or what genre it should be placed
    in. Back in the year 2001, Director W.D. Richter
    talks to us from a production mixing room. Dwelling
    into archives, he picks out what he believes to be
    original props and designs from the film including
    what could be the original oscillating overthruster.
    We see some interesting footage of make-up artist
    Tom Burman explaining the mold process of creating
    foam rubber masks that were worn by the alien
    characters including John Lithgow. Careful attention
    was given to keeping the actor's own facial features
    intact through the masks so that they could easily
    be identified on screen. We get a look at the clay
    modeling of the Yoyodyne fathership and the smaller
    escape pod. Richter talks about how much Jamie Lee
    Curtis loved the concept of the movie and wanted a
    role in it. The end result is her appearance in the
    added opening sequence. You'll also find out why the
    decision went down to remove that opening. The
    documentary winds up with a look at the special
    effects work that went into the film -- especially
    all the jet car effects.
    There are 14 Deleted Scenes that are rough
    image workprints. They range from backstage with
    the Cavaliers to Buckaroo telling Penny how her
    sister was killed by Hanoi Xan. Fortunately, the
    raw footage is shown inbetween the scene that
    precedes it and follows it (in many cases) so that
    you know exactly where that deleted sequence would
    be placed.
    A 3-minute promotional trailer, JET CAR TRAILER,
    was originally produced in 1988 to promote a Buckaroo
    Banzai television series. This digitally created
    trailer seems a bit dated over 20 years later, but is
    still interesting to watch. For fans, this must be
    a real treat as this trailer could only be previously
    seen at select science fiction conventions.
    A creative Character Profile feature gives
    us a multi-window look at the many characters of
    the film. Click on any of the more than a dozen
    character names and get a text profile that gives
    the complete background history of that individual
    character.
    Jet Car All Access shows us and tells us
    everything we wanted to know about Buckaroo's
    jet car. Supported with video, drawings and
    mathematical schemes this seems to be a very
    thorough overview of the car's design.
    There is a Photo Gallery with dozens
    upon dozens of publicity stills broken down by
    the film's timeline as well as individual characters.
    You'll also find many behind-the-scenes shots
    of the cast behind the camera as well as the aliens
    hanging out with Director W.D. Richter.
    Banzai Institute Archives is a whole mess
    of material thrown into one area including
    technical schematics on the tour bus; publicity
    material including radio and media interviews;
    movie reviews; photos of access badges and even
    Hikita's Diary written from the perspective of his
    character.
    The film's TEASER TRAILER is also included.
    To sum it all up....
    It's bad enough when I have to sit for hours
    going through the material found on Special
    Edition discs from Fox, Dreamworks and Universal.
    Now, MGM is putting out these elaborate DVD
    Special Editions that take forever to wade through.
    Not that I am really complaining -- actually, it's
    amazing to see what a fantastic job MGM has done
    with this DVD and it's great to see that the studio
    is finally putting this kind of effort into their
    releases.
    I wish this had been a movie that I would have
    personally enjoyed. I didn't. The film is just
    way too out there for my tastes. Still, I understand
    the impact this film has amongst many, and the
    need for MGM to do something special for that fan base.
    This is truly one of the very best discs to
    come out of the MGM camp, and it is my hope that
    MGM continues to put this kind of effort into future
    releases.

    Release Date: January 1, 2002
     
  2. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    "No matter where you go, there you are."

    Count me as a member of the cult. I'll be in line January to pick this one up. Now if MGM can only apply the same attention to REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS.

    - Steve
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Can't wait for this disc. Love the film!

    Part of its appeal lies in the deadpan, almost Mad magazine-like humor/satire. Some would call it "absurdist" humor. Here, it's cool that this polymorph of a talent is a test pilot, neurosurgeon, rock star, and comic-book hero--and still seems to take everything in stride. And those good-ol'-boy cronies of his add to the hilariousness of it all.

    Contrast that with Lithgow's over-the-top performance as Lizardo: While the Buck' and his pals act as if they encounter these sorts of situations every day, Lizardo is manic.

    "Real soon!"
     
  4. Albert M

    Albert M Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review. Add me to the BB cult list.
     
  5. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Finally! With the release of this dvd, I will gain access to all of Buckaroo's secrets! This will allow me to defeat him after which my evil minions from the Eighth Dimension will invade and conquer the Earth! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!! MGM, you are fools to release such information! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!
     
  6. Bill Buklis

    Bill Buklis Supporting Actor
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    Yeah, I know this movie is corny and cheasy as hell. But, I definitely have a soft spot [and an open slot on my shelf] for this movie. Great to here this is such a great disc. This bodes well for future cult/catalog titles like the upcoming UHF I've been anxiously waiting for.

     
  7. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    I'm just wondering if I can time it somehow so that this one ends up as disc #1000 in my collection.

    A film I've enjoyed as much as this, deserves such a special place of honor.

    "Bigboote! My overthruster!"
     
  8. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    "Laugh while you can, Monkey-boy!"
    I'm so completely there. I'll give you a brief overview of my feel for this movie. For about three months, I would go into video stores looking for used copies of this film. I would try to buy them off of the owner wherever possible. I finally got the movie while on business travel to South Carolina, in some place an hour from my hotel.
    This is stupendous, and thanks for the news. I can finally retire my tape version and see it in all of it's widescreen glory.
    In some ways, I think I might just have to play this anamorphic in a 4:3 mode just so the credit sequence looks familiar [​IMG]
     
  9. SpenceJT

    SpenceJT Second Unit

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    This "Hong Kong Cavalier" will be first in line when it hits the shelves![​IMG]
     
  10. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    It has been ordered... [​IMG] Can't wait...
    I have searched for a long time for this title. I wanted the tape pretty bad, but even it was impossible to find for a decent price. Now, it finally arrives - and in a fantastic package to boot! Many thanks, MGM!
    "History is-a made at night! Character is what you are in the dark!"
    Mike
     
  11. Butch C

    Butch C Second Unit

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    I cannot for the life of me figure out exactly what makes this movie watchable. Kinda wish they took the time to make other DVD's that impressive however.
     
  12. Rob Scott

    Rob Scott Extra

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  13. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I wouldn't call this film "corny and cheesy." It's a very smart film; the humor shows genuine wit.

    "Someone in here is feeling sad."
     
  14. Mike Russell

    Mike Russell Agent

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    Count me in. This is defenitely one of my all time fav sci-fi cult films. Consider it purchased on release day.

    "It flys like a truck"

    "good, what is a truck?"
     
  15. MichaelG

    MichaelG Second Unit

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    I am in agreement for the most part. I saw it once years ago in college and didn't think it was nearly as good as my friends back then. I have no idea if I would like it now, but nothing great is burned in my memory.

    But, this made me laugh!

     
  16. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    Hoorah, I can now finally ditch my 15 year old, 10th generation dub of the BB work print for this brand spankin new DVD! Too bad it won't be in stores before Xmas.
     
  17. Ron Shaw

    Ron Shaw Stunt Coordinator

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    Whatever happened to the sequel that was supposed to come out? I was told by an author friend (Kevin J. Anderson) who is pretty well plugged in that Peter Weller only agreed to do Robocop 2 if they would allow him to do the Buckaroo Banzai sequel. I guess not, huh?[​IMG]
     
  18. Richard Slay

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    I like this movie, but I can appreciate that it's very subjective. Thanks to Ronald Epstein for sitting through the vast supply of special features so we know what we're ordering. The movie came out here not long before Repo Man, and I will always remember local film critic Jeff Millar saying that Repo Man's budget must have been about the same as the catering bill for Buckaroo Banzai. I am glad these movies, so overlooked at the time, both have such great special edition packages. I also have a soft spot for Buckaroo Banzai because I sold two of the rare laserdiscs on E-bay for a total of about $150. They paid for many DVDs. Actually, I'm glad the DVD took so long to come out because I didn't want the guys who spent so much for my laserdiscs to feel bad.

    Favorite line:

    "It's not my god damned planet, monkey boy!"
     
  19. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  20. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    Whats not to like in this movie? You have a galaxy of stars (Lithgow, Goldblum, etc...). Great comedy ("It's big boote' not big bootie!") Sci fi gadgets, aliens... a super intelligent, multi talented, hero.. who is part samurai.

    I can't imagine how you could not run out and buy this movie!?
     

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