The Film (4/5)
I believe that if one is an obsessed fan of cult and obscure cinema that being region free is absolutely the only way to go. That being said if a film is owned by a major studio, I basically refuse to get an import version knowing that a domestic one will eventually arrive (unless the import version is considered definitive). The reason I open with this is because I have waited a very long time for a Blu-ray of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
Buckaroo Banzai has previously received Blu-ray releases in Germany, and through Arrow Video in the UK, both were apparently struck using a master from MGM. This made it obvious that MGM had an HD version and were just holding back on releasing it. Now Shout! Factory, through their newly minted Shout! Select line have released the film in a packed Blu-ray edition that is just what fans have been waiting for.
OK, so doing a synopsis of the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is not easy (Hell, writing the title out is not easy), but here goes. Buckaroo Banzai (Naked Lunch's Peter Weller) is a surgeon, rock star, physicist, and leader of a band of misfits called the Hong Kong Cavaliers. As the film begins he has created a vehicle that can traverse dimensions, and test drives it into the side of a mountain, and into the titular Eighth Dimension. Upon returning to our dimension Buckaroo can now see the Red Lectoroids. These creatures have been living in limited numbers in our dimension, but have been planning some sort of revolution against the Black Lectoroids and want back into the Eighth Dimension to conquer it. It’s up to Buckaroo Banzai and his Hong Kong Cavaliers to stop them and also save the Earth in the process.
Back in 1984, Buckaroo Banzai was a box office bomb. It's not hard to see why, this is the type of film that throws everything at the wall just to see what sticks. Basically, it's the kind of thing that makes a studio PR department cringe, because they don't know how to honestly promote it, and that is probably what happened here. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai... is a pulpy sci-fi adventure film with a rock and roll attitude, and a decent sense of humor. Like Stars Wars and Flash Gordon it is also a throw back to old sci-fi serials.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai... has quite a great cast including Peter Weller, Christopher Lloyd, John Lithgow, and Jeff Goldblum. The cast do well in their respective parts, and take the absurd concepts that makeup the film's main plot and play them dead seriously. Director W.D. Richter does quite a solid job with the material for the most part. For a major studio picture, it looks very DIY at times, and a lot of the film looks like it was shot between quarries and old factories so locations aren’t entirely distinct and one feels like they could have done more in that regard. Action sequences are solid, but not Richter's strong suit. Overall, though he keeps the pacing decent and the film rarely is boring.
Shout! Factory through their new Shout! Select line presents The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension in a solid 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The transfer is a very solid upgrade from domestic DVD releases of the film, detail is excellent, and colors though muted are nicely reproduced, skin tones are accurate, and there is a nice grain field present during the presentation. Banzai has always been a soft film in spots and that shows in the transfer here. There are also minor instances of damage from the source material, but nothing overwhelming.
Shout! Factory presents the audio with a DTS-HD 5.1 track in English, optional subtitles are included. The tracks is quite solid with dialogue and score coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the track.
Shout! Factory have put together a quite solid package for their release of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. The set opens with a nearly 2 hour long documentary on the making of the film. The first disc also features multiple commentary tracks, the first with Michael and Denise Okuda which is new to the release, and the 2nd one which is archiva featuring W.D. Richter and writer Earl Mac Rauch.
The second disc features another BTS featurette, an alternate opening, deleted scenes, trailers, and MORE.
Shout! Factory have done fantastic work bringing The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension to Blu-ray. The film looks and sounds excellent, and the extras are deep and detailed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.