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Spaced Invaders (Special Edition)
Coming hot on the heels of the Space Invaders video game craze (OK, maybe 8-years-late, but who is counting?) comes this effort from Patrick Read Johnson, Spaced Invaders, a family sci-fi adventure comedy that at 30-years-remove (at the time of this writing) still seems like it was a few years too late to the party. Maybe I am just old. The movie itself is pretty entertaining, with a few good laughs, a little drama, a little heart, and some way-cool aliens. For the average movie-goer with a penchant for such things, it is a solid evening of family entertainment. But I suspect this release is for those who enjoyed this movie as kids; a tasty enticement to pick up this decently-extras-packed Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber, in order to slap it on their shelves.
The plot is on the convoluted side, with a Martian battle armada up to something or other, while five members of the Martian army (either their best or most recalcitrant) somehow landing solo on Earth, on Halloween, while the townsfolk are inexplicably gathering ‘round their radios to listen to a recording of Orson Welles broadcasting of War of the Worlds (50 years late). Before you can say *huh?* those self-same townsfolk are dismissing the diminutive ETs as mere trick-or-treaters because damn-it, they will not get fooled again or something. The Martians are somehow split up, leaving some to ineffectually attempt takeover, while one just wants to do his own thing. I guess.
Did I mention the Martians all have goofy accents? Well, they do, and the iconoclast alien acts and sounds like Jack Nicholson, which is endearing to the daughter of the local Sheriff, named Kathy (pre-Jurassic Park Ariana Richards), who helps to get people to believe or something. At any rate, things turn out as a family movie should have them turn out. That is, things are quite fun, breezy, clever, and satisfying. Spaced Invaders (originally, more appropriately titled Martians!!!) is an old fashioned movie, created on the cusp of radical change for movies, and family movies in particular.
A few years down the road, family movies would transition almost entirely to animation, while in the interim they pretty-much disappeared completely. Meantime, the practical effects game, played masterfully by director Johnson and crew, would soon disappear in favor of CGI. But for Spaced Invaders brief moment, the shoe-string miniatures and marvelous alien face animatronics (also on a shoe-string, but perfectly realized), represent an apex of silly fluff, full of heartfelt performances and perfect grace notes. (Worthy of mention are the unexplained hieroglyphic-like markings on the Martian watermelon heads, and the awesome soundtrack songs, including a bit of fantastic Martian pop music that Nicholson imitator Blaznee listens to in a quiet moment.)
Spaced Invaders is a movie out-of-time. Too innocent for the emerging ‘90s, and reliant on show-string practical effects when CGI was rushing down the pike,the movie feels like it just missed the boat. Performances are great, plot is goofy, and all aspects of production design are way more creative than they ought to be. As a dose of nostalgia, this release will primarily appeal to people who loved this movie as kids, but do not let that stop you from giving it a look, a few nice extras and a fun family time make this Kino Lorber release Recommended.
Presented in a 1.85:1 ratio, this 1080p release looks quite good. Colors feel natural and well-balanced, fairly saturated and realistic. Details are plenty acceptable, and hold up well through the depth of field, even in dark areas, of which there are plenty in this night-time film. Grain is somewhat apparent, maintaining a good film-look, and digital artifacts or compression problems are absent.
Your only audio option for this release is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, which sounds just fine. Dialog is clean and clear, and stereo separation is dynamic, for what it is. The mix is appropriate, with the fantastic score mixed well and sporting a dynamic range appropriate for the original songs. If the Martian pop-tune does not wow you, the theme song Takin Over the World will beg for a spot on a playlist.
Spaced Invaders comes with a typical slate of low-budget extras, to wit: 6 different Interview Segments totaling well-over an hour, including time spent with Ariana Richards, Patrick Read Johnson - who delivers a truly inspiring raft of thoughts, and more, such as Blaznee actor Kevin Johnson, who takes time to thoughtfully discuss the life of Little People in Hollywood, while also masterfully selling the concept of Spaced Invaders, and SPFX master John Criswell, who shows his cred simply by appearing in a fisherman-type vest adorned with Torx Drivers. That is old-school! Two other interviews, round things out. A Theatrical Trailer appears, and lastly, a Commentary Track, while delivering lots of good BTS information, suffers from numerous dead-spots while the contributors sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labors.
Spaced Invaders is a movie out-of-time. Too innocent for the emerging ‘90s, and reliant on show-string practical effects when CGI was rushing down the pike,the movie feels like it just missed the boat. Performances are great, plot is goofy, and all aspects of production design are way more creative than they ought to be. As a dose of nostalgia, this release will primarily appeal to people who loved this movie as kids, but do not let that stop you from giving it a look, a few nice extras and a fun family time make this Kino Lorber release Recommended
- Kurt Dahlke