Some Things You Need to Know Before You Watch “Captain Eo”

So lets start today’s article and assume that you are an uncultured swine; everything you know about “art” can be summed up by a Mountain Dew ad directed by Michael Bay.  Lets also assume that you have never heard of Disneyland (it used to be an orange grove in Anaheim, if that helps).  If this is the case then you have never seen, let alone heard of, Captain Eo and, man, do I feel sorry for you.  Captain Eo is an 80s-tastic 3-D film/ride that was first introduced to the world in 1986 and has now been re-released to a whole new generation of horrified children who don’t understand big hair or tight leather outfits.  It was produced by George Lucas (who made some sci-fi movies a few years back) and directed by Francis Ford Coppola (who is just famous for being related to Jason Schwartzman).  Not only is this Disneyland’s greatest attraction hands down but it’s also one of the greatest films of all time.  You should go see it for yourself but before you do here are some things to keep in mind:

1.) The hero is Michael Jackson

Even three-year old children walking past this ride, their faces sticky with cotton candy, know that Michael Jackson is the main character in this short film.  I mean… that was kind of the point, right?  In fact, the only reason this attraction even reopened at Disneyland is because he died (sorry if you didn’t know that he was dead, my bad).  But notice how I didn’t title this “1.) Michael Jackson is the main character”?  That’s because being the main character to the story isn’t the point, lots of stories have bizarre and unconventional main characters.  No, the important thing here is that MJ is the hero, as in he is supposed to be heroic.  Jackson plays the title character, Captain Eo, who captains a space ship and leads a rebellion against hordes of dark robotic aliens.  And he accomplishes all of this while wearing a rainbow embroidered t-shirt, talking in a voice that (if you close your eyes) sounds like an 8-year old girl and… dancing.  We will get back to the dancing later, it is an integral part of the story.  The point is that we are supposed to believe that this guy:


is somehow similar to this guy:

At least the little guy kinda resembles Chewbacca.

2.) The villain is terrifying

Okay, so we have established that the hero is less than heroic.  Well that’s okay because this is for kids right?  It’s not like they need some complex anti-hero who is trying to avenge his family or anything.  If this is the case, the villain is probably a joke too then, right?  Er, no, actually she is absolutely pants crappingly terrifying.

Inappropriately named the “Supreme Leader”, (I would have chosen “Spider Goddess of Your Deepest Nightmares” but, hey, I’m just a simple blogger) this sinister creature is played by Anjelica Huston because, duh, who else?  She hangs from black shadow-like tendrils and beckons at you with claws that would make Freddie Krueger curl up in the fetal position.  She is the most evil looking thing you have ever seen.  And she is defeated by dance.  We’ll get to that but first…

3.) It actually has good 3-D

If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m being pretty sarcastic about this whole thing (except the villain.  Seriously, look at that picture again).  I mean, the whole attraction looks like your favorite sci-fi was hijacked by the living embodiment of the 80s and then forced to wear a leotard and play slap bass with Muppets.  It’s that bad.

Or is that awesome?

But you know what?  It actually has really awesome 3-D and that is not a joke.  Modern 3-D is pretty awful because movies try to work cheap thrills into movies and not the other way around.  Because Captain Eo is actually just a cheap thrill trying to work in a movie the 3-D effects are actually pretty awesome.  Also the theater moves to the beat of the music in the show.  Wait, did I say this was a cheap thrill?  Sorry, I meant to say “an insanely expensive” thrill.  Captain Eo cost roughly 23 million dollars to film.  Keep in mind that it’s 17 minutes long.  

4.) Dance is the ultimate weapon

And so we finally arrive at what you have all been waiting for: the role of dance in Captain Eo.  Let me set the scene: as our intrepid (?) hero looks up at his ridiculously intimidating villain he commands his robot assistants to transform.  This comes as a big relief to the audience because up until now Eo’s team of puppets have accomplished nothing except making every mistake they could have possibly made and endangering everyone’s lives a hundred times over.

We’re looking at you, Hooter.

So the robots transform… into instruments.  Eponymous 80s electric bass and drums begin to play and as Eo unsnaps his space jacket we realize that only one thing can happen next… dance.  But not just regular dance: dance that causes Eo to shoot lasers out of his hands and turn all of the villains into homoerotic dancers in leotards.

Using the awesome power of dance, singing and shrikeing “eeee!” Eo manages to save the universe without a single casualty (let’s just ignore the fact that his superior points out at the start of the film that he has a history of engaging in combat AKA killing bad guys).  Why didn’t Luke Skywalker just try that?

Have something to say?  Bring it on, I’m not afraid of you or your comments!  I have dance on my side.

Songs listened to while writing this: “This Devil’s Workday” by Modest Mouse, “Science vs. Romance” by Rilo Kiley, “Young Pilgrims” by The Shins, “Implode Alright” by Built By Snow, “Slow Show” by The National, “Islands” by The xx, “Treetop Flyer” by Stephen Stills, “3030 (Instrumental)” by Deltron 3030, “By Your Side” by CocoRosie.


One thought on “Some Things You Need to Know Before You Watch “Captain Eo”

  1. I remember seeing this movie when I was a wee lad. I was so wee that I did not understand irony so I just thought the movie sucked. Now that I understand irony…the movie still sucks, albeit in a good way.

    While making this movie did George Lucas have the genius epiphany to create Jar Jar Binks?

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