The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension stars Peter Weller – later to become the original and best RoboCop – in the titular role as the brain surgeon, rock musician and alien-battler, he’s got more strings to his bow than John Barrowman! (albeit without once being an annoying fuckwit)
Yes, I swore. But I swore positively. If Kevin Smith can swear in the Q&A on this disc, then so can I.
The film became a cult hit and is also another in the long line of Arrow Blu-ray premieres which I never saw first time round. In this case, it’s probably because while it looked cool on the video cover, I knew it would be cropped to 4:3, and thus wouldn’t be worth a look-in. I fucking hate pan-and-scan. Sorry, I’ll control my potty mouth now, but in the mid-90s I even went to the trouble of creating a full list of every widescreen video available, such was my passion for films in their original aspect ratio, and it also got printed in the fantastic Home Cinema Choice, as they shared my passion for this.
Sadly, when it comes to getting aspect ratios wrong, ITV, Channel 5 and even the BBC still retain this on occasion. In fact, after prolonged recent discussions with ITV, they maintain everyone loves 16:9 as it’s ‘family friendly’, and were proud of the fact that Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – a delight in 3D IMAX with 48fps – was perfectly okay when cropped to 16:9. And ITV wonder why their viewing figures are in the toilet.
Anyhoo, despite wishing I had seen this before, on the plus side fans can be proud that this Blu-ray is a version which does it justice. It’s in the original widescreen aspect ratio. The picture looks fantastic. It has a new DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack. And it’s got a ton of extras.
Banzai is a man of many talents, but the only thing he can’t do is add to the meagre 12 chapters on this disc, or vapourise Mondays out of existence. I hate Mondays.
However, what he can do is drive his jet car through a wall of rock, coming out the other side, clearly having gone through to another dimension. The Eighth Dimension, in fact, and when he exits, he finds a mysterious brain-like item stuck to the underside of his car. This is all thanks to the oscillating overthruster inside. I think.
The accompanying cast is largely a cast to die for.
John Lithgow perfects with his split-personality character – Lord John Whorfin and Dr Emilio Lizardo, the latter of which is portrayed as an impression of Italian madman Mussolini, and he escapes from the clutches of the mental health service and into society, in search of the oscillating overthruster. He has nefarious uses for it, but I forget exactly what. This is a film that doesn’t always make a great deal of sense, but that doesn’t stop it from being entertaining.
Then there’s Ellen Barkin as Penny Priddy, who looks absolutely stunning in this film, but for a love interest she’s not in it half as much as I expected her to be. Banzai used to be married to her twin sister, Peggy, of which Penny seems to have no recollection. Why? Who knows. It doesn’t matter. Just enjoy.
There’s Christopher Lloyd, from Back To The Future, as chief alien John Bigboote (pronounced boot-ay)!
There’s Jeff Goldblum from everything!
There’s Clancy Brown – the sadistic prison officer in The Shawshank Redemption
There’s Vincent Schiavelli from Ghost! (who speaks the film’s sole f-word)
There’s Dan Hedaya from Joe Versus The Volcano!
There’s John Ashton from Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run!
And then there’s Jonathan Banks! From 48 Hours! Beverly Hills Cop! Under Siege 2! Simon & Simon! Cagney & Lacey! TJ Hooker! and one of my all-time favourites, Freejack*!
What *hasn’t* this guy done?
And I know he’s been in Breaking Bad, but I just haven’t had chance to get round to watching that beyond the pilot. At least I know, from that series, and Better Call Saul, that lots of people have seen his greatness.
(*Arrow, please do a special edition of this. It has never been released on Blu-ray either in the UK or US. It’s a cult favourite)
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the film plus the copious extras…
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.