dir. W.D. Richter
My history with Buckaroo Banzai goes as follows: I hadn’t heard of it until last month, when a friend of mine recommended it to me saying it was a fantastic film with Jeff Goldblum and John Lithgow. Being a fan of both of them, I put it on my list of Films to See, but it was incredibly difficult to find a copy of the DVD anywhere so I went on with my life. Flash-forward to last week. I saw all over twitter that Arrow Films was re-releasing it on blu-ray and then a few days later, I saw on Instagram that HMV had it! The day before it was released, I think. Anyway, yesterday I went there and boom, got myself the blu-ray, and at night I put it on and enjoyed that surreal ride.
The plot of Buckaroo Banzai is a bit convoluted. Basically, it follows neurosurgeon/scientist/rockstar Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) and his entourage, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, as they try to save the world from a group of aliens from Planet 10 across the 8th dimension. The leader of the aliens, played by John Lithgow, is in the body of a scientist called Dr Lizardo who was involved in the project to cross dimensions which also featured Professor Hikita, who works with the Hong Kong Cavaliers, and he wants to steal something called the overthruster which will allow them to cross dimensions. The whole thing is pseudo-scientific lingo, aliens that look like squids (and a bit like Admiral Ackbar?) and awesome futuristic 80s outfits. The film features a bunch of great actors like a pre-Jurassic Park Jeff Goldblum, dressed in a cowboy outfit, and a pre-Back to the Future Christopher Lloyd, whose character is named Bigbooty (BigbootEH, sorry), among others.
It is delightfully bizarre. The story is complete nonsense and it just escalates more and more until the US is almost at war with the Russians and the aliens are about to vaporise the Earth. And it is absolutely wonderful. The characters are great, especially Buckaroo Banzai, who is so well-played by Weller (it’s only a small coincidence that I watched Robocop two days ago, I had no idea he was in this movie as well,) as the coolest guy in the world. Because he really is the coolest guy in that world, super suave and even-tempered, always dressed to the nines. The Hong Kong Cavaliers have great chemistry as well, and all the actors play off each other effectively. The fact that the alien costumes and the alien sets look a but dodgy only adds to the charm of this ’80s cult classic.
Still, even though sometimes it looks pretty dodgy, it’s actually got pretty decent effects. When Buckaroo first goes in the 8th dimension with the car, the car stunts were awesome, and the car itself looked great. The 8th dimension looked super silly, but it was fun. I think that translates through the whole film. Looks a bit silly, but it’s so much fun to watch and try to puzzle out these weird aliens, especially as their plan unfolds and it becomes more and more ridiculous at every turn.
However, it is definitely not for everyone. It became a cult classic for a reason, and that it is not really ever going to be a universally enjoyed film. But that’s okay. If you like weird aliens, fake science and nonsensical convoluted plots, this is definitely the movie for you.
I would definitely recommend this film for anyone who is a fan of weird movies, and this blu-ray release in particular looks fantastic! It’s got tons of special features to keep you engaged, and the film itself it amazing anyway. Now, go see it!
review by Mariana Duarte