What do Michael Jackson, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Mickey Mouse have in common? The only possible answer is “Captain EO,” the 1986 3-D film that was featured in Disney parks around the world. This over-the-top film harnessed the energy of the King of Pop in order to popularize the Disney parks with teenagers. It also cost over $20 million for its 17-minute runtime. The “Captain EO” experience went beyond your standard film. It is credited with repopularizing the 3D genre and featured in-theater effects that were synchronized to the film, such as lasers and fog. Jackson’s sidekicks include several creature puppets and his nemesis is played by a young Anjelica Huston. Of course, the story culminates in an enormous dance sequence with two original songs written by Jackson. The 4-D experience thrilled audiences when it was first released but the film itself is rather disappointing. For its price tag, the special effects are lackluster, the creatures are a far cry from the Muppets, and the script is cheesy. Jackson’s dancing is as stunning as ever but this is a reminder of why he never made it as an actor. It was featured in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and EPCOT’s Future World, but it quickly became dated and served as a piece of nostalgia for the latter half of its showings. While the controversial accusations against Jackson pressured Disney into replacing the show in the mid-90’s, EO’s demise was already overdue. I’ve included a YouTube link of the film below and will leave it up to you to decide whether “Captain EO” was an innovative collaboration between the biggest names of the 1980’s or an overpriced short film that fell short of its potential.
Captain EO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4TZWZMjJ8k
[Pictured: Captain EO may be the most 80's thing ever created]