Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension; Science-fiction comedy, USA, 1984; D: W. D. Richter, S: Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Lewis Smith, Clancy Brown, Vincent Schiavelli

Buckaroo Banzai, a maverick adventurer, participates in an experiment in which he drives a vehicle 500 miles per hour, uses the alpha laser and passes right through a mountain. But the evil leader of alien race Red Lectroids, Whorfin, who took over the mind of Dr. Lizardo, wants to return to his planet 10 by using the alpha laser - if he tries, the Black Lectroids threaten to destroy Earth in order to stop him. Banzai and his team, including Penny, a girl he met at his concert, stops Whorfin and destroys his spaceship.

Cult science-fiction film "Buckaroo Banzai" has quite a hyped reputation, yet it's very rarely anything more than just a solid film that tantalizes our senses. Unlike other bizarre fantasy films, this one is never hectic or rushed - actually, surprisingly, it's always very polished, measured and calm - and even the complicated story, crumbed into numerous complicated subplots about the empty space in the matter, can all be simply summed up by the title hero (very good Peter Weller) saving the world from evil aliens, yet one just has to look at the math and the digits to conclude that the result isn't completely satisfying: over the 100 minutes, the film has only 3 great gags. The first half of the film has a lot of events unfolding, yet the only moment that clicks in your head is the humorous scene where Banzai is on stage but suddenly stops in the middle of his rock concert and asks if "someone in the audience isn't having fun". The audience is all confused, but then one woman actually raises her hand and tells him she isn't. He actually takes the time to ask her, with all the people listening (!), what's the matter, and then she tells him about her bad day and debts. Such a surreal, but unbelievably charming and sweet satirical moment was a real inspiration. The second most hilarious moment comes up when a general speaks in front of the president: "...I think I'm speaking for all in this room when I say: I'm scared shitless!" Yet, that's it. In the end, besides a whole bunch of throw away side characters (like Jeff Goldblum who doesn't do anything with his role), there isn't that much to criticize about the film, except that it's simply not that much fun.


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