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Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: 1984

Release date: August 15, 1984 (USA)

Director: W. D. Richter
MPAA rating: PG
Running time: 103 minutes
Music: Michael Boddicker

   On Cult Classic Theater I have reviewed many films, most of which many people have never heard of.  I'm not too good at keeping my reviews grounded to the title of my blog, "cult classic," and I'm not sure what I should do about that.  Regardless, I have still managed to broaden my perspective of the cinematic world, so in a way, I'm reaching past the former boundaries I've set for myself.  I like that.  I still enjoy this hobby I have made for myself and I hope to ,"stick with the program" for a couple more years if not more.  In case you are wondering why I'm not reviewing this film yet, it's because I have reached a certain mile stone for this blog.  a small feat, but a feat to be recognized at that.  So, I'm pleased to show you, "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai:  Across the 8th Dimension."  This is my 50th review.

   But why this movie?  Well, Buckaroo Banzai links to my past in a certain special way.  I don't know...ya ever watched something as a kid, and then ten years later you watch it again and you get this overwhelming feeling of nostalgia from it.  One of these movies (or in this case, short films) was of "The Night on Bald Mountain," a short from the film, Fantasia.  Another one of these films is the one you're looking at, "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai:  Across the 8th Dimension."  Who is Buckaroo Banzai?  The hero of our film, played by Peter Weller, is a race car driver...and a neurosurgeon...and a rock star.  He is awesome, and a likable character at that.  And that's the key word here;  likability.  Of course you would think to put this trait into any main character of a film, but with the other characteristics I have expressed to you about him, that might be a difficult feat to overcome.  Surprisingly, director W.D Richter, does this phenomenally well.  You have this guy who can do everything, but that can still come off as a realistic guy (for the most part).

     Our story is as follows;  everyman Buckaroo Banzai and his parents have created a rocket car (if you will) to jump into other dimensions using a device called The Oscillation Overthruster.  Buckaroo tests this device, and successfully drives...through a mountain.  Yes, through a mountain.  Actually, through a dimension inside of the mountain. However, upon re-entree to the third dimension, Banzai accidently brings back an alien or, "lectroid" artifact.  Buckaroo Banzai finds out later, with the help of his crew called, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, that what Buckaroo had witnessed was the 8th dimension, during a meeting about the technology that brought Banzai there.  He was contacted by, "black" Lectroids to be able to see the "red" Lectroid's because the red Lectroid's want to steal the Oscillation Overthruster, so that they can, "go home."

   W.D Richter's character of Buckaroo Banzai is, in a way satirizing all of the hero's in films and books.  The guy's that can have any woman they want, can do whatever he wants, everyone knows him, wants to be him, and approves everything he does. But, very differently, you still can see that Buckaroo is just a man. For example, Steven Spielberg takes a very different approach with the Indiana Jones Trilogy. Contrarily wise, THIS character is a jerk, but a doctor. He's rude, but heroic. However, the likability that is attached to Harrison Ford's character has to do with the duality of his character, and the choices he makes throughout the situations he comes across. So it really is up to you which of these, "every-men" you prefer.

      Our villain is good (for the kind of camp this film wants to emit) but he is aside the film itself, meaning that although he has more to do with the story, there is no connection between him and Banzai, suggesting that this villain won't be around for very long. I can think of one reason why they might have done this. Buckaroo Banzai was meant to have several films to its name. The fact that, "across the 8th dimension" was a subtext, is a hint to that. Supposedly each film would feature Buckaroo banzai, along with his crew, "The Hong Kong Cavaliers" going around saving the world from evil. I sounded cool. It also sounded like a serial. A serial is series of short films, or episodes, that would be played in theaters on a scheduled time of week or month, depending on cost of production. Often times, nearing the end of each episode, there would be a cliff hanger. You would have to wait until the next episode to see how the hero would escape the danger he was previously confronted by. Buckaroo Banzai never incorporated cliff hangers, but would have separate stories for each film (*ahem* Indiana Jones). Sadly, W.D Richter's next installed adventure for Buckaroo Banzai, "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Against the World Crime League" never saw the light of day, although it was teased at the end of this film. I won't lie, I was so excited to watch that movie after finishing this one. You couldn't fathom.
    There are two ways I can look at this film: from a child's perspective, and from an analytical perspective. From a child standpoint, I really like this movie. But does that mean that it IS a good movie? no, of course not. The story is insane, the costumes are okay, I guess, Buckaroo has no weakness, so he isn't completely fleshed out as the film's hero, The Hong Kong Cavaliers have nothing that distinguishes their character besides their name, and what they wear, and it is a mess. But to this day I love every minuet of it. I'm sure fans of this film will agree that Buckaroo Banzai has its flaws, but what W.D Richter may have just been going for was a camp film. And guess what? It became a cult classic! So my blog title finally has one more percentage of meaning in its name. I hope that counts for something.


Watch the Trailer Here:

Next Review:  Plan 9 From Outer Space 1959