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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Retro Review: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (1984)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension
1984
Cast: Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd
Genre: Action-Adventure Sci-Fi 
U.S Box Office Gross: over $6 million

Plot: Brain surgeon Banzai (Peter Weller) just made scientific history. Shifting his Oscillation Overthruster into warp speed, he's the first man ever to travel to the 8th dimension and come back sane! But when his sworn enemy, the demented Dr Lizardo (John Lithgow) devises a plot to steal the Overthruster and bring an army of aliens back to destroy earth, Buckeroo goes cranium to cranium with the madman in an extra-dimensional battle that could result in total annihilation of the universe  






'Quirky & Unusual Sci-Fi '80s Cult Classic' 

Born to an American Mother and Japanese father, main hero Buckeroo Banzai has to save the world from the invading Red Lectroids. 

From Robocop and Blue Jean Cop to Naked Lunch and Scanners, Peter Weller has never been one to shy away from films that have creative and somewhat quirky aspects or are, in turn, low-key cult films that are predominately in the sci-fi/action genre. And in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension, this one is no exception. He looks so young and dashing and brings about it that wit and charm. 

Panned by critics, it bombed at the U.S box office and it has since gone on to become a cult B-movie classic. The idea of having a character as a rock star/physicist/martial arts expert/neurosurgeon and action hero protagonist all rolled into one sounds bizarre, and one may perhaps think that is overstretching it a bit. 

We don't really get any details or explanation on this Buckeroo character, but he just appears on screen from the get-go and we learn that he is performing brain surgery and after that, performing on stage with his band mates. This guy is a man of many talents. 

This sci-fi action-adventure film reminds me of Earth Girls Are Easy: as in it is so surreal and it is set in the future and arguably is similar to Big Trouble in Little China (in fact, the writer of Buckeroo Banzai went on to pen that film): both films are also cult films that don't take themselves too seriously. It has a very Mad Max-ish vibe to it, with the flight scenes that look as though they came out of Star Wars; looks- wise and the main character looks so cool - I dig his outfit. It's not an out & out action-adventure film, it has aspects of musicality, as well as action, drama. I wouldn't say it is light-hearted and funny, but it definitely has a lighter tone, kind of, that suits the obscure and quirky feel it connotes. This is a film that needs to be re-watched several times in order to get the gist of it, although it helps a lot if you are a sci-fi nut. 

Seeing the kid named Scooter holding and shooting a firearm was a little bit disturbing, however; the image of a young boy with a gun took me aback and wasn't something I'd expected. 

There are a few issues with this film, with the main one being the story lacked appeal and the other being the script is confusing and needs more work; but otherwise, it is just okay. It just wasn't inviting or interesting enough to draw me in. 

John Lithgow is the main bad guy and he certainly has that crazed, weirdo-ish look to him. He is such a large ham, Lithgow really goes over-the-top in his portrayal as Dr Lizardo and it doesn't make the film look any more ridiculous and silly. It was also interesting to see Ellen Barkin here as the love interest of Buckeroo named Penny Priddy. Christopher Lloyd's turn, however, wasn't that memorable as the antagonist. Meanwhile, Peter Weller manages to exude a cool demeanour and comes across as being calm and collective, without trying to be cool at the same time. In all, I enjoyed the performances but the film itself was a tad underwhelming and it never really made me love it, as much as I wanted to. 

The term cult classic couldn't be any more aptly suited to The Adventures of Buckeroo Banzai: it is virtually unknown in sci-fi adventure films that has a very B-movie feel and there is really nothing else quite like it. It may be too oddball for some people's tastes, aesthetically especially. And yet, I still approach it as an interesting take on the sci-fi action adventure film. Obviously, had it been a major success in theaters, this would have been a proper franchise like with 2015's Guardians of the Galaxy

Whilst it isn't heavy on the action scenes, it is definitely a film I will revisit again, and who knows, by then my opinions will be more optimistic and I'll give it a higher rating. 





Final Verdict:

As offbeat as it gets, given it lacks action and the story/plot wasn't as exciting prevents this film from being a huge hit. There were times where of which the film wasn't so interesting to sit through, but its surreal ness, premise and concept alone is what makes it intriguing. If you are a fan of Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin or John Lithgow, then this is required viewing. Had the chaotic plot been a lot easier to understand and follow, as well as some of the events in the film turned out differently that would have made it easily watchable, then that would have been good for this film. 

The performances are not bad; however, the narrative just didn't make an impression on me because it wasn't that exciting and entertaining as it should've been.  

The Adventures of Buckeroo Banzai is very different, very niche, and a very polarising movie and one that was a stepping stone for a couple of future stars to shine on the big screen; for those of you who are into something different, spontaneous or are into cult or underrated films, it is worth checking out. If you take it with a grain of salt, you may end up liking it. 

As far as sci-fi films go, this is as totally far out as one could ever imagine it to be. 



Overall:

*actual score: 6.9 out of 10










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