The Ad­ven­tures Of Bucka­roo Ban­zai

Un­der­stand­ing the plot is brain surgery

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Dvd & blu- ray -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

1984 | 12 | Blu- ray Di­rec­tor: WD Richter Cast: Peter Weller, John Lith­gow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Gold­blum, Christo­pher Lloyd, Lewis Smith

No genre film is pos­sessed of more swag­ger, verve and sheer joi de vivre than The Ad­ven­tures Of Bucka­roo Ban­zai Across The 8th Di­men­sion!

A glacially cool Peter Weller is the tit­u­lar re­nais­sance man, who when not con­duct­ing brain surgery or break­ing the sound bar­rier in a jet- car sings in a rock ’ n’ roll band.

It’s a film that con­fi­dently es­tab­lishes a richly de­tailed and dis­tinc­tive world – a stylish, acid- rinsed riff on ’ 40s mati­nee se­ri­als – pop­u­lated by like­able char­ac­ters. The script crack­les with quotable one- lin­ers, and John Lith­gow’s out­ra­geously- ac­cented Dr Lizardo is one of the big screen’s most brac­ingly barmy bad guys.

Only prob­lem? The plot. Suc­cess­ful movies can usu­ally be sum­marised in a line; it feels like a sheet of A4 is re­quired to do jus­tice to Ban­zai’s, which in­volves two fac­tions of alien “Lec­troids” and a di­men­sion that ex­ists in the spa­ces be­tween mat­ter – even though much of what hap­pens boils down to a run- around for a McGuf­fin. The script dumps you in at the deep end and leaves you to sink or swim.

For mega- fans like Kevin Smith, this is a laud­able ap­proach that places Ban­zai in the art­house cat­e­gory. Well, maybe. But it looks an aw­ful lot like sim­ple in­com­pe­tence.

A di­rec­tor/ writer com­men­tary and a fea­turette ( 23 min­utes) in­cor­po­rat­ing vintage promo in­ter­views both ( an­noy­ingly) pre­tend the film’s a docu- drama. An al­ter­nate open­ing with home- movie footage of the young Ban­zai is in­ter­est­ing but inessen­tial, as are 14 trims from the work print. There are de­cent new in­ter­views with Weller ( who’s amus­ingly pre­ten­tious) and Lith­gow ( 31 min­utes). But the high­light is a 2011 Q& A with the duo ( 43 min­utes), hosted by Kevin Smith. Plus: an as­tute “vis­ual es­say” ( 28 min­utes); au­dio in­ter­view with the unit pub­li­cist ( 10 min­utes); TV pitch promo video; text- free cred­its se­quence; ex­ten­sive gallery; trailer; book­let. Ian Ber­ri­man

When would the 3.17 to Lit­tle Halling­bury turn up?

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