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Spaceballs (1987) - Blu-ray Review

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Spaceballs (1987) - Blu-ray Review

4 starsBy the 1980s, cinema was in well and truly in the post Star Wars world. Its monster success and permeation into the cultural zeitgeist still looms large over movies today. Like any profitable venture, those left bobbing about aimlessly in the wake of such a phenomenon try to ride that wave by creating the next one. What follows are usually a derivative attempts to catch lightning in a bottle, and the ultimate let down for both the seekers of the coin and the audience they unleash such ventures upon.

Mel Brooks was not one of those seekers. Already seasoned and successful in taking the piss out of popular styles of films, he aimed his sharp wit and penchant for silliness squarely at the most successful film of all time, and delivered  joy to the masses, to the creator of Star Wars, and to his wallet.

Spaceballs is an unabashed, off the wall, parody that effortlessly combines making fun with reverence. It tells the story of Lone Starr and Barf, two hapless drifters that take on a dangerous mission to rescue a princess from the clutches of Dark Helmet in a desperate attempt to pay off the 1 million space bucks they owe to Pizza the Hutt.

"a master class in appearing unrestrained but having surgical precision by every performer."


There is no laziness in this send up. The narrative offers character development, and coherent and engaging adventure, and the best of the best in every aspect of production, and most importantly laughs a minute. Brooks cleverly combines the threads of Star Wars, pop culture of the time, his own heritage, and classic themes into an impressive finished product.

Bill Pullman shines in his debut leading role, Daphne Zuniga, who is sadly more famous for her run on Melrose Place, also knocks it out of the park as the spoiled princess. I don’t think Rick Moranis has ever put in a sub-standard performance, and his portrayal as Dark Helmet is comedic gold. Brooks himself adds two distinct personas to the film in the guises of the self-referential President Skroob and Yoda knock-off Yogurt. Joan Rivers adds her acerbic wit, voicing the robot Dot Matrix, and ever reliable John Candy steals every scene as Barf.

This is a master class in appearing unrestrained but having surgical precision by every performer. They allow the audience to sit back and enjoy the fun, all the while working hard to tell the story organically and unobtrusively inject their individual skills into it.

Brooks also had the foresight to engage Lucas’s own ILM to create the effects, so—as silly as some of them are—they are of the quality of the movies of the time they were lambasting.

The film has deservedly earned a place in the hearts of many since its release, but 31 years later some of it’s—at the time contemporary—elements have not stood the test the time and will unlikely resonate with newer generations of viewers. I think that is its greatest flaw.

But for a kid that grew up in the 80s, this will always be a welcome revisit to different time; when the bravery of filmmakers and risk takers successfully provided us with a very fertile and imaginative era of film—even the parodies.

One of Brook’s finest, in this reviewer’s estimation.

Spaceballs (1987) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
96 mins
Director
: Mel Brooks
Writer:
Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan
Cast:
Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis
Genre
: Comedy | Sci-fi
Tagline:
Revenge of the Schtick..
Memorable Movie Quote: "So the combination is... one, two, three, four, five? That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 24, 1987
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 28, 2015
Synopsis: Planet Spaceballs' President Skroob sends Lord Dark Helmet to steal planet Druidia's abundant supply of air to replenish their own, and only Lone Starr can stop them.

Spaceballs (1987) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Available on Blu-ray
- April 28, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0; French: DTS 5.1; German: DTS 5.1; Italian: DTS 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-50); UV digital copy; Google Play digital copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

This is a really nice upgrade in picture. While they have not gone back to revisit the effects, which are the elements that show its age off more than anything else, the MPEG-4 AVC encoded HD presentation dutifully shows off fine details, grand landscapes of varying textures and colours, costume details, skin tones and depth of picture not yet seen. It really is like watching the film again with new eyes.

The lossless DTS-HD 5.1 mix is even more spectacular than the picture, and gives all speakers a good work out. Purely from the eclectic mix of score, effects, and music elements, the mix shows off an adept handling of very disparate of all that is asked of it. Dialogue in the centre is crisp and clean.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Special Features represent a common complaint I have with most HD releases. They are copious but not updated as time and technology are. The only HD elements added to all the supplements ported over from DVD are a decent but brief featurette Force Yourself! Spaceballs and the Skroobing of Sci-Fi—a rather self-congratulatory bit with Brooks talking about what made him do the film; and a ‘watch the film at ludicrous speed’ feature, which plays the entire movie in seconds.

Spaceballs (1987) - Blu-ray Review

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