Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary adds that “as played by Peter Weller, Banzai unfortunately turns out to be a pretty conventional hero” whose “special skills are never really put to work — it’s as if he has them only so the film’s publicity releases will sound interesting.” He argues that while “Weller is handsome,” he “hasn’t the necessary charisma to play a superhero,” and “his cockiness reflects the attitude of the whole production.”
I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s review, though I think the failings he points out here — i.e., the “chaotic pacing,” “lack of continuity,” and “overabundance of characters who run around in fancy outfits” — are actually what endear the kooky film to its fans. Also of note is Lithgow going beyond over-the-top in an unhinged performance as a Mussolini-like scientist-dictator who’s actually an alien:
… and chill Goldblum getting to wear western duds after casually performing life-changing neurosurgery.
Meanwhile, Barkin has an entirely thankless role as the female love interest; she spends most of the film either crying and trying to kill herself or being tortured.
While I’m not personally a fan of this weird flick, enough are to make it worth a one-time viewing simply for its cult status.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: