Captain EO Oct 28, 2019 19:45:46 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Oct 28, 2019 19:45:46 GMT -5
Captain EO (1986)
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Michael Jackson headlines Captain EO, a unique short film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
In 1986, an exhibit by the name of Captain EO launched at Disneyland and Disneyland's famous Epcot attraction. It was the result of a long-in-the-works collaboration between pop superstar Michael Jackson, a known fan of Disney films, and director Francis Ford Coppola, the mastermind behind the beloved Godfather trilogy. The short film that accompanied the exhibit had a tumultuous production history. Initially at the helm, per Jackson's request, was to be Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, but Spielberg was unavailable due to shooting The Color Purple and Lucas eventually signed on as executive producer with large (and evident) creative input. At almost $24 million, it was one of the most expensive shorts at the time, going well overbudget, but nonetheless enjoying a run at Disneyland and its global attractions that eventually closed in 1997 (its Epcot run lasted until 1994). It was, too, one of the first 4D films, using lasers and fog machines to enhance the screenings with the intent of captivating audiences on a sensory-stimulating ride only the King of Pop and two of the most legendary film directors could provide.
Accessible only via bootleg DVDs and through the wonders of video-sharing platforms on the internet, reviewing Captain EO in 2019 is a debatably fruitless experience. Going to the Disneyland/Epcot exhibit would've been a unique experience, one that would've likely pushed my rating above the perceptions of "merely average" into "must-see" territory. As it stands, it's a curious piece of history, as I often say, one not without merit, but one without a lot of substance. Watching it in the present, without the accouterments that allow the room in which you're viewing to fill with fog and entrap you with bright, neon lasers, it's mostly an extended Michael Jackson music video with a needless, uninspired subplot.
The film tells the story of Captain EO (Michael Jackson), the leader of a ragtag crew of odious-looking creatures named such word-salad as "Fuzzball," "Ody," and "Major Domo." It's as if the Muppets and the crew of Lost in Space copulated and produced junk-drawer characters, who accompany EO on their spaceship. They're on a mission to deliver a gift to Anjelica Huston, the "Supreme Leader," who lives on a planet equivalent to the garbage-shoot of the cosmos. Upon arriving on the ostensibly desolate planet, EO and his crew are taken into custody by the Supreme Leader's henchmen, but after she orders EO to be enslaved and his crew to be turned into trash-cans, EO informs her that there is beauty inside her, even if she is incapable of seeing it. That's when his crew turn into musical instruments and perform two Michael Jackson songs: "We Are Here to the Change the World," an original, and "Another Part of Me," from Jackson's Bad album.
Captain EO shows Lucas' influence by looking like Return of the Jedi, with its questionable special effects, grotesque characters, and space-setting. Jackson is no movie-star in the conventional sense, whisper-speaking much of his dialog, resulting in him appearing incongruous to the landscape and situations around him (apparently Jackson's dialog was thought to be so poorly delivered, Coppola and company originally had plans to dub it over before abandoning such an idea for fear of upsetting the artist). It has that distinctively 80s look that can only be understood by those who have seen enough content from an era that makes everyone, even those not born in the respective decade, nostalgic for its simplicity.
Doubly shocking besides the short film's lofty budget is its laundry list of A-list names, such as famous music choreographer Jeffrey Hornaday, Rusty Lemorande (read that name again, it's not "Rusty Lemonade"), who worked on Caddyshack, Peter Anderson, an accomplished cinematographer for Disney theme-park attractions, and James Horner, who scored Titanic — and, of course, the aforementioned Jackson, Lucas, and Coppola. Captain EO is a mildly amusing novelty, and Jackson's dance moves and music are as impressive and as tantalizing as ever. If you ever had the pleasure of experience this oddity when it was at Disneyland, it's one of those oddities that affords you a lifetime conversation-starter. For the rest of us, it's another reminder of how global and powerful the Michael Jackson brand was in the not-so distant past.
NOTE: My review of Michael Jackson's Ghosts, another Michael Jackson-centered short featuring music from HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6335/michael-jacksons-ghosts
Starring: Michael Jackson, Anjelica Huston, and Dick Shawn. Voiced by: Tony Cox, Debbie Lee Carrington, Cindy Sorenson, and Gary DePew. Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola.