Here's a shocker to those who say EPCOT Central wants to turn Disney's most ambitious theme park into a shrine to the 1980s:
Bringing "Captain EO" back to EPCOT would be a bad idea.
A really bad idea.
The idea has been making the rounds -- and allegedly has gotten as far as an executive screening at Disneyland -- because of last June's tragic death of pop star Michael Jackson. Twenty-three years ago, "Captain EO" was a sensation at Disneyland, and there are many who would love to see the 3-D musical adventure once again.
Sure, it would be fun. Once.
But quite apart from the nagging, persistent allegations of child abuse leveled at Jackson, there are two huge reasons "Captain EO" should remain vaulted, particularly at EPCOT:
1) The 3-D is simply not very good. It never was, really. The 17-minute movie was quite literally too dark to ever "read" quite right, despite its popularity. But the 3-D technology used to make the film has progressed enormously in the past two-and-a-half decades, and already there's a huge difference between the 3-D techniques used in movies like "A Christmas Carol" and "UP" and the relatively rudimentary processes used at Disney theme parks. Once you see a theatrical 3-D presentation like "Carol," it's hard to accept theme-park 3-D technology as anything other than a cut-rate version of the real-thing. Why bring back "Captain EO" if it's not going to be digitally enhanced and presented in one of the new 3-D technologies? It's just not impressive.
2) It's dated. No matter how much you adore Michael Jackson and his music, everything about "Captain EO" feels stuck in 1986, from the music itself to the character and production design, to the makeup, to the "analog" visual effects. "Captain EO" is a curio from the past, not a vision of the future of entertainment.
It would, no doubt, be great fun to see "Captain EO" in 3-D once again. But after the first blush of novelty, do we really want a divisive, controversial and, frankly, dead pop star to be the centerpiece attraction of a Disney theme park, especially one that ostensibly celebrates our technological future?
Nostalgia alone isn't enough to fuel long-term interest in "Captain EO," and hopefully once Disney realizes how much it will cost to refresh, revive and restore this 70mm, low-tech wonder, they'll come to their senses.
If they're really serious about reviving something memorable from the 1980s, there's this little thing called Horizons ...