The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, like so many cult films, does not hold up under repeat viewings. The editing is just bad, almost MST3K-worthy. The motorcycle chase that caps the first act is a perfect example. Banzai and the Red Lectroids he’s chasing are never onscreen at the same time. He ambles after them on a motorcycle and eventually ends up in the woods. Are these the same woods that the duck hunters are tromping through in search of a UFO? I guess.
The sound editing is also terrible, with half the lines being lost in echoes and the other half being delivered in “comical” accents (Jamaican, Italian, Japanese). It doesn’t help that it’s a sci-fi movie, so there are a lot of unfamiliar terms being thrown around, e.g., “oscillation overthruster.” When Banzai mistakes Penny’s name for “Peggy” in the club scene, I thought it was a prescient in-joke.
For all this it’s not a bad movie. There’s an intricate world being depicted, a world in which a genius scientist travels the country in a tour bus with half a dozen other genius scientists, who also play in a band, who are also practiced gunfighters, who also have a comic book depicting their exploits and a nationwide fan club-cum-milita. It looks like a really fun world that you’d want to be a part of. Unfortunately, the producers never really invite us in.
If any movie could benefit from a remake, it’d be this. Edgar Wright could give it a go.