I very rarely find myself in a position to admit that I can feel transformed by 80s science-fiction. Am I tempted to yell “wolverines” after a victory? Yeah. Do I like to yell “Khaaaan” when I’m angry with someone? Hells to the yeah. But really, I’ve never been one to get into Robocop (and yes, I am daily berated by friends for this sort of thing), and you will never get me excited to watch Tron. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t paying attention to scifi in the 80s when I was growing up so I didn’t see a lot of these movies for the first time until I was well into my twenties. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always had unpopular scifi opinions. Take your pick.
So when I’m convinced to go see Captain EO because Space Mountain is under repair, I’m ill-prepared to acknowledge that not only is it an acceptable substitute, it may be marginally better.
I was also not prepared for Michael Jackson being a fantastic actor (debatable, I know), or the fact that Disney somehow predicted not only the Borg, but how to vanquish the invincible Star Trek foe. Captain Picard ought to be somewhat ashamed because the way it was done was so simple. So elegant.
Would you like to know how Picard should have destroyed the Borg and turn the Borg Queen into a blissed out Angelica Houston doing a stiff royalty wave?
The answer is dancing.
And laser beams.
And then more dancing. And then some more laser beams.
And then even more dancing.
So yeah… I understand that this sounds beyond stupid. But it gets better. The movie is in 4D. That’s right. It’s too cool for 3D, it has to have a fourth D… which the makers unscientifically seem to think shaking theater seats and misting the room qualifies it for.
It gets even better than that, though. Guess who the three collaborators for this project are.
Yes, that’s Micheal Jackson on the left (obviously), George Lucas on the right… and, in the middle is…. wait for it…
Wait for it…
Francis freakin’ Coppola. By the way. Coppola is so famous that he doesn’t even come up on my spellchecker. I wouldn’t doubt if he had synonyms.
If ever there was a mid-80s dream team, this was it. All it needed was Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, and nothing would have been able to stop it.
But this is all bells and whistles, really. What I really loved about this film was the substance, and I don’t just mean MJ moonwalking with aliens, though seriously that wins all the wins.
The storyline is about a good-natured, and driven Captain, who has been set up to fail at an already impossible task. He’s assigned the most useless crew in the galaxy, and given a mission to take down a cultural hierarchy without any tools except for his unparalleled ability to
dance negotiate. Through it all, Captain EO is able to succeed and bring peace and happiness to a planet that is polluted, evil, and twisted.
Now, as I said, this Captain knows that he’s been set up to fail. He knows he must be some sort of patsy, because there is no way he would get this mission with his recent record unless they knew he was going to fail. Or more likely, unless they wanted him fail. He also knows it’s his hapless crew’s last chance to mean something, so he takes it as a test. He becomes their friends, and somehow, they are able to help him in the end.
Character-wise, it has surprising depth, and for a movie that is only twenty minutes long (though you usually have to wait an hour to see), it also has an incredibly complex background. It’s a thriller (♪thriller nighhht♪), heart-warming, and best of all: choreographed. It’s so cheesy that I think it is the best Science Fiction the 80s has to offer, and I say that in light of Return of the Jedi. That movie had Ewoks, yes, but is that anything in comparison to a farting alien who eats galactic maps for no reason? And people dancing? No one can outcheese a Disney live-action movie. No one.
Thus, I implore you, should you find yourself a in a place that is geographically Disney, be it land or world, to go see Captain EO. Who knows how long it will be available to public viewing. After all, it was closed twelve years ago after… well… frankly Michael Jackson imploded as a celebrity, and it seemed prudent for a children’s brand to distance itself from an accused pedophile and baby dangler. Though, honestly, I think they closed it because the special effects just don’t hold up anymore, which simply isn’t true. Don’t get me wrong. They are bad. But they are no worse than a lot of the CGI we’re subjected to in the movies these days.
The thing is… who cares if the graphics are bad now? By using a movie that tried to take every possible trend and cram into ten perfect minutes of pop culture amazingness it’s fun, and a glimpse into a past that wasn’t that long ago, but feels forever when it comes to science fiction.
I’m sure all of you who have seen Captain EO absolutely agree, and those who haven’t soon will.