Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why don't you hold onto my thruster for a while?

Today I watched The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, an oddly humorous sci-fi/adventure film from 1984 starring a devilishly handsome Peter Weller, a crazy red-haired and green-teethed John Lithgow, a typically stammering Jeff Goldblum and a whole bunch of cool character actors, and I kinda liked it. Peter Weller plays Buckaroo Banzai, who is a scientist, a test driver, a rock star (or what passed in the '80s for one) and a comic book hero, and also the first person to ever go through a solid mountain and survive the experience more or less successfully. You see, only four percent of solid matter is composed of actual molecules, so there must be loads more stuff in there, and a kindly Japanese dude with dust in his fake mustache and flaky crap all over his face that movie goers used to think was acceptable as fake wrinkles will be happy to explain that that's where you'd find the legendary 8th dimension, assuming you're smart enough and Japanese enough to know how to look. What he had failed to realize was that the 8th dimension is used to imprison these evil, red cockroach-like aliens who were put there by their black cockroach-like opponents for some reason or other. Yeah, for some reason a lot of '80s aliens looked like big ugly cockroaches with otherwise human bodies. I guess it had something to do with AIDS. Most '80s oddities were about that. Back then, if you threw a rock anywhere there'd be like a 90% chance that you'd hit an AIDS-related cultural phenomenon. Anyway. Now that Buckaroo Banzai has tapped into the hidden dimension, crazy Italian scientist John Lithgow, who an electronically induced flashback says is possessed by the leader of the red roaches, breaks out of the insane asylum where he's spent 50 happy years of his life, and tries to free his red brothers and take over the planet or something. And as if that wasn't enough, the black bugs say that if Buckaroo Banzai fails to stop Mr. Lithgow, they'll destroy the Earth themselves, the cheeky bastards! And to make things even worse, poor Buckaroo has to deal with this crazy Ellen Barkin-looking chick who looks suspiciously like some broad he used to bang! Ugh. It's all pretty fun and colorful and bursting with imagination, but if you think it sounds like a lot, like it's almost too much to deal with in just one movie, you're definitely not wrong. And it really doesn't help that the movie was made to feel like one episode in a continuing series, in a way that often makes you feel like you should've known a lot more about these characters before going into it, so a lot of stuff must be going way over your head, even though they've never made any other Buckaroo Banzai movies before or after this one. It's a pretty unusual movie and its cult status is now clearly obvious to me, but to be perfectly honest, at some point I just started to lose interest and didn't really follow the plot as closely as one should. The performances are pretty strong and the special effects are kinda cool, if not terribly good, but I don't think I'm going to want to watch it again any time soon. I like my cult movies like I like my women: raunchy, uncomplicated and made in the '70s.

John Lithgow and his fantastic Virtual Flashback machine

I've been watching quite a bit of Stargate Atlantis on VOD lately, mostly because David Hewlett is like the coolest Canadian living today, so yesterday I watched the original Stargate from 1994 and it was pretty enjoyable, despite the rather lame CGI effects. What bugs me about that sort of movies is how whenever the hero is presented with a native chick who takes her clothes off and offers herself to him, he always does the supposedly gentlemanly thing and turns her down. I mean, I can accept ancient gates the allow you to travel between galaxies, or crazy space aliens that look like gay Middle Eastern teenagers, but a guy who's been spending a long while surrounded by nothing by stinky, hairy dudes and still turns down a perfectly supple pair of extraterrestrial boobs is just a little more fiction than I usually like in my science fiction.

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