Now that we’ve had a chance to see the resurrected Captain EO more than 100 times, we feel confident that we can give it a fair review.
Fortunately, EO is just as wonderful as we remember it — the dancing, the singing, the women fainting in the aisles, were all there just like they were the first time, back in 1969 when the original film premiered in Tomorrowland. True, there have been changes made over the years. We all remember the original classic, which followed the Jacsonnauts 5 from their crash on an alien world to their confrontation with the aliens and “cabin boy Michael” teaching the evil queen her “ABCs”. For the 1986 revival, four of the human spacemen were replaced by muppets and Anjelica Huston had replaced the unavailable /deceased Joan Crawford as the evil queen. But, if anything, the music was even better, the choreography stronger, the lasers more super awesome, and the robot just as relevant to the art of dance as it is today.
The new, third-generation EO is very similar to the 1986 version. The biggest differences are in the special effects, which had to be changed because of how quickly EO replaced Honey I Shrunk the Audience! (known to some fans as Honey, I Shrunk the Audience’s Interest in Visiting This Attraction a Second Time!) So there’s no more opening starfield, no more lazers, no more smoke, but when EO’s ship’s door first opens, you do get the startlingly realistic sensation that your feet are being overrun by escaping space-mice.
The most noticeable change in the film is in the part of EO himself. Due to Michael Jackson’s untimely demise, the part has had to be recast, but Disney is turning this apparent liability into an asset by changing the casting every week to inspire repeat visits. When the film opened at the beginning of the month, it was with the awesome Samuel L. Jackson as the captain — and an inspirational powerful, hard-dancing captain he was! The second week, with Michael’s brother Tito as the captain, was a bit of a disappointment, but it was more than made up for by this week’s portrayal of EO by Walt Disney World’s own animatronic President Andrew Jackson! Believe us when we say that Old Hickory has got the moves!
Current plans are for Captain EO to continue through the summer, with final performances (starring actress Victoria Jackson) some time just before the holiday season.