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The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (Blu-ray Review)

Buckaroo-Bonzai THUMBLed by the deranged dictator Lord John Whorfin (John Lithgow), the Lectroids steal the Overthruster with the intent of using it to return to their home of Planet 10 “real soon!” But no matter where you go, there Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller, Robocop) is… ready to battle an interdimensional menace that could spell doom for the human race.  Featuring Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, and Clancy Brown, The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai is a cleverly crazed cult classic as only the 80s could deliver.  This new release, launching the Shout! Select line (Spine #1), features an over 2 hour retrospective documentary telling the tale of this strange little sci fi cult classic, finally debuting on Blu-ray in the US.

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Film 

Expect the unexpected… he does. Neurosurgeon. Physicist. Rock Star. Hero. Buckaroo Banzai is a true 80s renaissance man. With the help of his uniquely qualified team, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo is ready to save the world on a moment’s notice. But after his successful test of the Oscillation Overthruster – a device that allows him to travel through solid matter – he unleashes the threat of “evil, pure and simple from the 8th Dimension”… the alien Red Lectroids.

The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension isn’t a film that’s for everyone.  Backing that up is that it was seen as a disappointment upon release, both critically, with its box office tally and the sequel promised at the end of the film never coming to fruition.  Over the years, it has found its audience, thanks to home video and the internet.  Its a cult sensation.  Still, its not for everyone.  And that’s okay.  But if you’re someone that gets it and it is for…Hi, I’m Brandon, and you’re definitely cool.

Buckaroo Banzai is one of the most unique and weirdest movies you’ll ever come across.  The film has its own little world, plays by its own rules and has its own sense of jokes and wonder.  As with any cinematic venture, I’m sure there are influences abound, but Buckaroo Banzai never feels like its blatantly ripping anything off or feverishly waiving its arms to make sure you know its paying homage to something.  From the look of it all the way to the sound of it, you just know THIS is Buckaroo Banzai.

Part of helping that, aside from the universe of creatures, vehicles places and music is…well that cast.  Its got one of those launching point casts (except this movie failed to launch itself) in Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin, Clancy Brown, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, Lewis Smith and Christopher Lloyd.  Yeah, some were already on their way, but if anyone or two had been that big, you wouldn’t have them all here in one movie.  Weller is fantastic here.  He just gets and IS Buckaroo Banzai.  Listening to him talk of his influences in crafting the role, he’s just unlike a lot of his contemporaries out there.  Highlighting for me is him during the concert sequence.  And not only does he have one of my favorite film lines, but his delivery of “No matter where you go, there you are” is incredible.  Also strong is Barkin, in a role that she makes more complex than it is on paper.  Everyone here is terrific and have moments, nuances and scenes that I’m sure someone has already written full on articles about.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension has lived on long past many contemporaries and still is picking up new fans all the time.  Its a unique adventure for both its time and now.  You couldn’t really make this exact film anymore and really nobody was doing it then.  At its core, it still produces some excellent music, cool effects and costuming and a cast of character actors coming into their own at the time.  If you’re a fan there is some power to this movie on deeper and simpler levels as well.  The end credits sequence of this movie never fails to lift my spirits, put a smile on my face and have me in a great mood at any given time.  And its just some simple synchronized walking with music.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  I checked this against my copy of the Region B Arrow Video release from last year, and the two are pretty comparable.  Both feature a very good image with good colors, sharper image and overall engaging look having Buckaroo look the best its been.

Depth:  Decent depth work.  Some more open scenarios prove better than others.  Good work on foreground imagery in comparison to background.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid and deep.  No crushing witness. Minimal detail lost in the darkness.

Color Reproduction:  Colors look pretty gorgeous, staying true to the image without getting overblown.  There’s a natural look with a hint of flair that works perfectly for this film.  The right mixture of grit and glam.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent for the duration of the feature.  Make-up, lip texture, wrinkles and sweat beads can all be made out pretty clear as day in medium and close shots.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some specs here and there, but its pretty clean.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  The 5.1 mix is actually a pretty solid track.  However, some of the dynamics are better served in the original 2.0 mix.  Things get a little more whoompf and musical cues sound a little more natural.  Both are fine, but the theatrical mix is a little more true.

Low Frequency Extension:  Alien sounds, ships taking off, engines humming and guns/blasters firing all rumble in your little subwoofer box.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There are some nice musings from around the room in scenes featuring a lot of action going on.  Overall, its a more front focused track.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clean and clear.

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Extras 

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension is a 2-disc set (Blu-ray & DVD) that comes with reversible cover art featuring the original poster design.  The DVD does not contain the film, only additional bonus features.

Blu-ray

Audio Commentary

  • With Director W.D. Richter and Writer Earl Mac Rauch
  • With Michael and Denise Okuda

Into The 8th Dimension Documentary (HD, 2:08:16) – An 8 part retrospective documentary that regroups pretty much everyone sans Ellen Barkin.  This fascination journey is about a half hour longer than the film itself and looks at every thing from the early musings, to scripting, casting (Michael Keaton was ALMOST Buckaroo), filming, budgets, studio fights and the legacy of the film.  All in all, this is pretty much the Dangerous Days of cult B-movies and is worth the price of this release alone.

DVD

Buckaroo Banzai Declassified Featurette (SD, 22:41) – The original making of retrospective from the DVD that meshes new (for the time) interviews with ones from the set and EPK.

Alternate Opening (SD, 7:12) – Features Jamie Lee Curtis as Buckaroo Banzai’s mom.

Deleted Scenes (SD, 14:11) – 14 scenes.

New Jet Car Trailer (SD, 2:25) – “Ancient Secrets & New Missions”, just a little CGI chase sequence.

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:17) 

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Summary 

Arrow Video already had a great release of Buckaroo Banzai last year, but that was region B.  Shout! Factory has debuted its Shout! Select line with it and only added more to that release.  Special features are generally the same, but the documentary on here is the BIG difference.  Everything you always wanted and more is here to go with the Arrow release as well as pretty much the same picture and audio.  Aside from the typical videophile nit picks, I see this as a damn fine release of a terrific little film.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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