Just the Features: Adventures of Buckarro Banzai Across the Eight Dimension, The ( 2-Disc Shout! Select Blu-ray)





Released by: Shout! Factory

Release Date: Aug. 10th, 1984 (Theatrical)
                       Aug, 16th. 2016 (Blu-ray)

Region Code: A (locked)

Run Time: 1h 43m

Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
            English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Video: 1080p (2.35:1 Aspect Ratio)

THE FEATURES [3.5 out of 4]



Disc #1: Blu-ray

Commentary #1: Director W.D. Ritcher and Writer Earl Mac Rauch

This track is ported over from the dvd release and it is not good. W.D. Ritcher claims that the film is a Docudrama and that everything in the film is real. Rauch claims that he is the real Reno Nevada and the two play off of each other like this through the whole commentary. There isn’t much info on the film given, just two guys who could have given a much better commentary track if they had dropped the BS and talked to the audience straight.

Tracks likes this don’t normally work as most people will shut them off within the first few minutes. There have only been a few tracks where a “character” shows up or the track is played as a goof. The Tropic Thunder track is a prime example of how to do it right. Downey doesn’t drop character, but it is funny and doesn’t get on your nerves. Skip this track and listen to the next one.

Commentary #2: Michael and Denise Okuda

This is a commentary track done well. The two started out being huge fans of the film and have been trying to incorporating items from the film into the shows they work on. The two work very well together and sound like they are having a great time watching the film and talking about it. I really liked track and it is worlds better than the previous track.

Into the 8th Dimension: The Making of Bucaroo Banzai (2h 8m, HD)

This is an excellent documentary that goes into all the highs and lows of making the film. Almost everybody who worked on the film are here (Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, and Earl Mac Rauch are notably missing.). Everything from the initial idea down to the botched theatrical release are covered in detail here.

The film was micromanaged by Producer David Begelman and W.D. Ritcher had to answer for every little thing that he wanted to do on the film. Begelman wanted a “Raiders of the Lost Arc” and the filmmakers were not giving them that. The original D.P. Jordan Cronenweth, who shot the amazing looking Blade Runner, was fired by Begelman after they didn’t like the way the film was looking. Begelman was on Ritcher so much that it is surprising that the film turned out as good as it did.


The only bad thing I can say about this doc is that it runs a little too long. By the hour and a half marker I was losing interest in the doc. I think that if they had tightened the pace a little the doc would have ran smoother. This is just a small complaint.

Disc #2: DVD Special Features

Buckaroo Banzai: Declassified (22m 42s, SD)

Like the first audio commentary, this featurette is very tongue-in-cheek and tries to make everything real. I hated the commentary track and I hate this featurette as well. I am just happy that the whole disc isn’t like this. Skip this.

Alternate Opening (7m 12s, SD)

We are given a lot of backstory to Buckaroo Banzai and we are introduced to the world in a different way.  This would have been a nice way to start the film if it were something else. The way the film starts is perfect for the film is wants to be. We do, however, miss out on Jamie Lee Curtis and James Saito as Buckaroo’s parents. They don’t have any dialogue but it is always good to see these two actors.

New Jet Car Trailer (2m 25s, SD)

A CGI animated short about the jet car from the film doing different things including helping a space shuttle land. Next.

Deleted Scenes 
      
      1.      Backstage with the Cavalries (:53, SD)
      2.       Penny’s Troubles (1:20, SD) 
      3.       The Conference Room (1:15, SD)
      4.       Dr. Lizardo (:43, SD)
      5.       Give Me a Fix (:37, SD)
      6.       A Little Down (:33, SD)
      7.       Therma-What? (:23, SD)
      8.       New Jersey Meets the Cavaliers (1:20, SD)
      9.       John Emdall (1:02, SD)
      10.   Hanoi Xan? (:47, SD)
      11.   Penny Confronts Dr. Lizardo (:45, SD)
      12.   Solve These Equations (2:45, SD)
      13.   A Piece of Cake (:42, SD)
      14.   Illegal Aliens (1:06, SD)


In the doc, the director talks about how they didn’t cut much out of the film. Usually this means that anywhere from five to thirty minutes were cut. Going by this, I expected the deleted scenes section to contain a lot more, but none of these deleted scenes runs for more than three minutes and there aren’t that many to begin with. There are little character bits cut and a joke or two are funny, but nothing was unwisely cut.

Theatrical Trailer (1m 17s, SD)

Buckaroo Banzai would be a hard sell no matter when the film was made and this trailer is proof of that. I can’t say that it is a good nor bad trailer, it just is.

PACKAGING [3 out of 4]

This is the first blu-ray in the Shout! Select line dedicated to films that don’t fit under the Scream Factory banner.

This two disc release comes housed inside a sturdy, non-eco case. The artwork is a newly commissioned piece, but if you don’t like it than you can turn it over for the film’s original theatrical poster.


The case fits nicely into a slip sleeve that adjourns the newly commissioned artwork.

The discs have nice artwork on them as well. The blu-ray disc is region “A” locked and the dvd is region one locked.

THE FILM [3.5 OUT OF 4]

This is the first time I have ever seen Buckaroo Banzai and I can tell you that I found the film to be really and a joy to watch. The story doesn’t really make much sense, but I found the characters to be funny and worth hanging around with.

Peter Weller, always a great actor, brings a Zen-like presence to Buckaroo that another actor may not have been able to bring. Buckaroo is a man who knows a lot of everything and thus would not be prone to fits of anger. There is a line in the club scene where we first meet Penny. She is crying and Buckaroo is trying to help her from the stage. Some people in the crowd start heckling Penny. Buckaroo tells them to stop and then says “Don’t be mean.” I found this to be very comforting as there is no other hero that I can think of that would say something like that. I think that one line perfectly describes who Buckaroo is and what he stands for.


John Lithgow is always great and here he is able to chew the scenery and come back for seconds.  This is a character who has been stuck in a mental institute for who knows how long and he just wants to go home. Then he finds out that he can do it by going through the different dimensions  and he becomes very evil. His interactions with each of the characters is nice, especially his scenes with Christopher Lloyd. Their banter is crazy and very funny.

The rest of the actors are all faces we know. We get Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, Clancy Brown, Vincent Schiavelli, Dan Hedaya, and John Ashton. This is a great cast and they really make the film what it is.

The film is very wacky, but not in a pretentious way. You would think that making Buckaroo a genius, it would make the character an asshole, but Buckaroo wants to share what he has with everybody. When he performs brain surgery on guy at the beginning of the film, he is not doing it to win awards or even be hailed as anything. He is doing it to help that person. You do not find many heroes like Buckaroo Banzai very much.

This film has a lot in common with Miami Connection. Both films are about a band that has to unwilling fight bad guys. Both groups are lovable and work well together and none of them want to harm anyone. They will fight bad guys and then go and record a song. There a few time in this film when the band enters a room and the people inside think that they are there to lay down tracks. I found this to be funny and calming at the same time.

Backaroo Banzai is a really good film. The performances are nice and the film looks great. There are so many talented actors, and yet, there are no egos on display. Everyone involved just wants to have a great time playing these characters and that translates very well to the screen. The film is not perfect, but no film really is. This film is perfect at being its own thing. That is why I like the film.

OVERALL [3 out of 4]

Shout! Factory has put together a nice package. The packaging itself is standard Shout! Factory packaging, but it is what is inside that count. The film is really good and the presentation is as well.
The special features are good, but not great, outside of the second commentary track and the documentary. The dvd disc of special features could have been put onto the blu-ray, as they are all standard definition, but I think that Shout! wanted to avoid the naysayers bitching about bit rates and compression issues.


That said, this is a nice package and I really don’t think that there could be anything else to be had when it comes to the film. Fans will love this release and hopefully new fans find the film on blu-ray and fall for it like I did.