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Spaceballs (1987) Print E-mail
Friday, 26 June 2009
ImageMel Brooks is the father of parody films.  He created the genre and turned them in laugh riots.  Brooks struck it big in 1974 with "Blazing Saddles."  The film has become iconic in cinematic history.  Brooks followed up his successful feature with "Young Frankenstein," "Silent Movie" and "History of the World: Part 1."  In 1987 Brooks turned out another classic, "Spaceballs."

"Spaceballs" is the most memorable parody on the beloved Star Wars saga.  The film is full of inside Mel Brooks' jokes and terrific acting by some top-notch actors.  Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman and John Candy lead this comedic cast.

In "Spaceballs," Planet Druidia is in trouble as Spaceball City plans to suck all the fresh air from the planet and transfer it to Spaceball City.  President Skroob (Mel Brooks) hires Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) to capture the princess of Druidia.  On the day of her wedding, Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) flees the ceremony and escapes into space.  Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his sidekick, Barf (John Candy) are contacted by the King of Druidia to save the princess.  Lone Starr agrees for a payment of one million spacebucks, the amount that he owes to Pizza the Hut.

After rescuing the princess, Lone Starr ends up crash landing on a desert moon.  It is there that they are rescued from the desert sun by six beings that resemble jawas.  They take the clan to the hideout of Yogurt (Mel Brooks).  Yogurt is the Yoda of Spaceballs.  He controls the upside of the Schwartz (The Force).  When spaceballs lure and capture the princess, Lone Starr must set out to rescue her once again.  With the princess in hand, Dark Helmet uses her to ransom the code to the access the planet's air system.

Lone Starr shows up at the last minute to save Planet Druidia and rescue the princess.  Using his Schwartz powers, he reverses the vacuum suction of the planet's fresh air, and in a move the equates nicely to flying into the Death Star, Lone Starr flies his winobago transportation into the ear canal of the Spaceballs' ship.  It all comes down to a battle between Lone Starr and Dark Helmet.  This is the most memorable and perhaps best sequence in the entire film.  All I can say is; "I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate."  There is just absolutely terrific comedic dialogue in this film.

The film is not a huge laugh from start to finish.  However, if you haven't seen this film in a long while, then you will most certainly enjoy watching it on the Blu-ray format.  The film is filled with some spots that are quite a bit dated, but for those of us that were alive during that era, it is quite a treat to see such flashbacks to old technology.

While Daphne Zuniga has not had the biggest career, all of us that grew up during the time of this film remember having the hugest crush on her, as the generation previous had the biggest crush on Carrie Fisher.  Mel Brooks various performances in the film are some of his best.  He is well known for appearing in all of his parody films. MGM delivers "Spaceballs" on Blu-ray with an MPEG-4 AVC encode at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  I was pleasantly surprised with the video quality.  It has been a long time since I have seen a film of "Spaceballs'" age look this good.  It looks a lot better than most films that are newer by six or seven years.  Still, there are some issues that plague the video.  The film starts off with impeccable video quality.  The blacks are solid and the image is vibrant.  However, as the film progresses, it starts to falter.  Any shadow delineation disappears, leaving giant blobs of black all over the screen, especially when it comes to Dark Helmet's costume.  Details begin to soften as apparent noise reduction wipes clean the image.  Details are simply average, while textures are subpar.  Film grain has turned into square blocks due to the noise reduction.  The sand dunes of the moon sequences are very flat.  Overall, however, the image does pop from the screen.  The image quality has its ups and downs, but in general it is quite the upgrade form the previous standard DVD release.  The source print seems to be relatively clean.  However, speckles pop up on the screen in highly contrasted sequences.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio.  The original stereo mix is also included as a Dolby Stereo track.  I commend the effort taken to created a 5.1 mix for "Spaceballs," however, it falters on a few levels.  Mainly, the dialogue is weak.  The frequency response of the dialogue is limited and it is buried among the music.  The music tops everything in the audio track.  A simply remix could solve this issue.  The music is strongly blended into the rear channels creating quite and enveloping listening experience.  The LFE channel is lacking a bit.  When the super long Spaceball 1 starship flies by at the beginning, I longed for more low frequency rumble.  Ambience is lost in the music.  There is the occasional nicely panned sound effect from the front to rear.  However, for the most part the sound effects remain flat and totally upfront.  There are several occurrences of ship fly-bys that don't come close to filling up the surround channels.  The audio is more than suitable, but some of these issues remove the listener from the movie experience.

MGM has given quite a bit of attention to the special features of this package.  The first disc in the set is the Blu-ray disc and contains the features plus bonus materials.  First, there is an audio commentary with director and actor Mel Brooks.  This track is decent, but not as funny as I would have thought.  "Watch the Movie a Ludicrous Speed" is like a YouTube feature that plays back the movie in less than 30 seconds.  This is basically the same as the main menu of the Blu-ray disc.  BTW: the main menu of the Blu-ray disc is quite annoying.  There are some silly additional commentary tracks in Mawgese and Dinkese.  "Spaceballs: The Documentary" features cast and crew interviews.  "In Conversation: Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan" is a featurette centered around the writing.  "John Candy: Comic Spirit" is a nostalgic piece looking at the importance of John Candy.  There are various sections of photo galleries including, "Storyboard-to-Film Comparisons," "Behind the Movie," "The Costumes" and "The Art."  Finally, there is a theatrical trailer and an exhibitor trailer with introduction by Mel Brooks.

The second disc in the package is a standard DVD.  Side A contains the widescreen version of the film and side B contains the 4:3 standard version of the film.  This appears to be the same standard DVD that has already been released.  The second disc also contains some standard bonus materials including, behind-the-scenes footage, the Mel Brooks audio commentary and the theatrical trailer.

"Spaceballs" is a rare brilliant comedy.  There is something in this film for everyone.  Those of us alive during the time of this film will get a real nostalgic kick out of the film.  The new generations should watch this film to see what a real parody film is like.  The audio and video quality is improved from the standard DVD.  There are some quirks with the qualities, but nevertheless, they are impressive for the age.  I highly recommend this Blu-ray disc.

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