The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Buckaroo Banzai (Weller), noted brain surgeon and comic book star, has developed an Oscillation Overthruster by which he travels briefly through solid matter and into the eighth dimension. This prompts the evil Dr. Lizardo (Lithgow) to attempt to steal the Overthruster so that he might bring back an evil race of aliens trapped in the 8th dimension to conquer earth. Banzai and his rock band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, set out to save the planet.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This is probably one of your better B-movies, which an apparent cult following, but I, unfortunately, am not a member of that cult. I thought the first 30 minutes were real strong (the introduction of Banzai, the testing of the Oscillation Overthruster) but then it just went downhill real fast. The tone of the movie starts you out thinking that Banzai is a real bad ass, but then he just ends up basically running around or away from the bad guys for the remainder of the film. The movie does a fabulous job of establishing the many, many aspects of Buckaroo, (i.e. eastern influences, rock musician, brain surgeon, all around nice guy) but these talents never really seem to come into play during the actual plot. The director of the movie even says in part of the DVD that there are several questions he didnít get to answer in the movie, and that he has no real good explanation for them. Now, to be fair, I smiled a few times during the movie. Jeff Goldblum and his cowboy outfit, the War of the Worlds references, the scenes with the Presidentóthese and a few other parts made me grin. But that just wasnít enough to sell me on the entire film.
Commentary by Director W.D. Richter & Reno (author of novelization): Okay, hereís where things start to get freaky. Now I understand that with stuff like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, itís thematic to keep up the pretense that itís real; that the story and characters are real. But with this movie, I just wanted them to let it go after a while. Richter makes several references to the fact that he had to get permission from and worked heavily with the Banzai Institute for the film. At one point he asked Reno if he thought that Weller looked like the actual Buckaroo Banzai. It was a joke that would not die. And if you can sift your way through these affectations, youíll find your standard movie trivia comments (locations, explanation of special effects) that are usually included in commentary tracks.
Pinky Carrutherís Unknown Facts (Subtitle Track): You can watch the movie with this subtitle track on that throws out facts that further the mythology of Buckaroo Banzai. As with the commentary track (above) this one references that Banzai is real! And the location of the Oscillation Overthruster is the same locations where Banzaiís parents were killed over 30 years ago! And the Banzai Institute is alive and well! And secretive! And real! Included are some mildly interesting facts about the film and some really bad jokes.
Alternate Opening with Jamie Lee Curtis: This opening is a home movie of Banzai with his parents. His father experiments with dimensional transportation for the first time. Curtis stars as Banzaiís mother. Not a bad sequence, fills in a few plot gaps, but didnít really fit in with the feel of the rest of the film, which might have been why they cut it. Oh wait, I forgot, Richter said that Banzai saw it and the memory of his parents was too painful for him to watch, and that was why they cut it. Jeez. (About 4 minutes, and may be viewed alone or with the rest of the film by playing the Extended Version option)
Buckaroo Banzai Declassified: The first few minutes of this are your standard press reel stuff (interviews about what the movieís about, etc.) and then we get a recent interview with W.D. Richter where he shows us the rock from the 8th dimension and the Oscillation Overthruster, and please...someone kill me now! (About 22 minutes)
Banzai Institute Archives: This has stills of a lot of the conceptual art for the film. Additionally, they list tie-in merchandise you can by. Also given is a list of the filming locations, and copies of two reviews for the film. There is an interview with Buckaroo Banzai (text only, and no, itís not an interview with Weller, itís an interview with Banzai). Banzai Radio gives another interview where the merchandising products of the film are discussed. And there is more background information presented in the Institute History and Nikitaís Diary sections (text only as well).
There are also Character Profiles and the Jet Car-All Access that give text that you can read that gives background story of the characters and the car. And thereís a photo gallery and movie trailers. Also included are Enhanced NUON features, for those few who have a NUON DVD player.
Like getting two soft drinks out of the machine when you paid for one. . .Easter Eggs. On the main menu: Click left once and the middle sketch of the truck will become highlighted in green. On it, written quotable quotes from the film. On the main menu: After clicking the above mentioned easter egg, click left one more time and a bolt in the upper left hand portion of the screen will become highlighted green. It shows alternate designs for the DVD Menu. (36 pages! Damn!) On the Banzai Institute Archives screen: Highlight the special features option that will take you back one screen, but instead of selecting it, click right once. The Buckaroo Banzai Emblem will be highlighted. This will take you to alternate DVD cover designs.
The concepts of this film are interesting but never really fully developed. While the ideas behind the character and history of Buckaroo Banzai are cool, they never really come to fruition in the film. And while the extras are moderately okay, and give out pretty standard information, the mythology theme that flows throughout almost makes them unbearable. Canít really recommend this one.