Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (US - DVD R1)
Gabe has built himself a family of robot friends to assist in DVD reviewing...
Can you hear that? That’s the sound of thousands of poor saps that spent $50 to $200 on the out of print and rare original DVD release of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crying out. They just heard that Universal had finally re-released the film, and they’re collector’s items are more or less worthless. That slightly quieter sound is the cry of all those folks that were trying to sell a copy on eBay right now.
You all know the drill by now—an evil scientist bend on world domination sends Mike (originally Joel) into space and forces him to watch bad b-movies. To keep himself company Mike engineers himself some friends—Tom Servo, Gypsy, and Crow (oooooooohhhh). Together the team endures the bad movies while making snide comments.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 really takes me back to Jr. High School, when life was simple, and there wasn’t such a thing as a bad movie. Unfortunately, like Monty Python and Saturday Night Live, I ended up outgrowing the series (not to imply that these are childish things, simply that my humour changed over the years). My issue with enjoying the show in syndication and DVD probably has something to with all the people who mimic the show’s chief creative characteristic. As a socially awkward person, I tend to hang out with other socially awkward people who don’t realize that they’re socially awkward, and a surplus of wannabe MST3K humour has soured me to other people making comments during bad movies. Of course, my comments are still totally funny.
Even when theatrically releasing a major motion picture the MST3K gang can’t help but fall back on their public access roots, and would anyone want them any other way? Besides some actual editing, more than one camera angle, and some surround sound effects, this is pretty much just an episode of the show. This is a common complaint for theatrical versions of successful television shows, but I don’t think that it really applies here. The point of this film and the series seems to be the sense of community, and the unbelievably low cost of the production ensures it turns a profit even if only fans pay to see it.
MST3K isn’t my bag anymore, I’d actually prefer to watch bad movies without the comments, but I appreciate it for what it is, and I like the fact that it makes people happy without rendering them dumber. The movie still manages to ease out a few good laughs, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It doesn’t hurt that I work across the street from where the film was made.
Not to surprisingly the video quality is different based on whether or not This Island Earth is on screen. The movie with-in the movie doesn’t look too bad actually, but there hasn’t been a lot of effort put into restoration either. Blacks are actual blues, grain is pretty heavy, and there are a whole lot of artefacts. The movie outside the movie (?) is clear of grain or artefacts, the colours are vibrant and well separated, and the general detail is pretty high for a standard definition release.
The bass on this largely unnecessary Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track is positively preposterous. Any cut to the outside of the ‘Satellite of Love’ is room shatteringly loud, like, break the system loud. The rest of the track is pretty centrally located. All of the gang’s smart-ass comments and all of This Island Earth’s soundtrack are delegated entirely to the centre channel. The surround and stereo channels only come into play when the crew isn’t watching the film, and though clearly bigger and better then a television episode, the surrounding sound effects are all still pretty obviously taken from a cheap sound effects CD. My only complaint is the volume mix, which favours Mike, Crow, and Servo much more then the movie they’re watching.
Nothing. Seriously, nothing? Jeeze. Couldn’t there at least be an option to watch This Island Earth without the gags and little silhouette guys at the bottom of the screen? Some kind of thirteenth anniversary featurette? A commentary track featuring alternate jokes? Anything?
I simply don’t enjoy this stuff like I used to, though even I see no reason for Universal to re-release such a cult item without any extras to speak of. It’s kind of a boot to the face for fans really, though I sure a lot of them will just be happy to be able to own the film without spending exorbitant amounts of cash on eBay. Hopefully those that have already dropped heavy green regret nothing.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 6th May 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jim Mallon
Cast: John Brady, Kevin Murphy, Trace Beaulieu, Jim Mallon, Michael J. Nelson
Length: 75 minutes
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