Mystery Science Theater 3000 : The Movie (Humdinger Edition)
Director - Jim Mallon
Cast - Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Trace Beaulieu
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
MSRP - $12.99
Distributor - Mediumrare Entertainment
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (4/5)
*Warning Standard MST3K INTRO WARNING COMPLETE**
I have been a fan of MST3K from the moment I first saw it on Comedy Central in the mid-90's. My friends and I were used to watching bad movies on shows like USA Up All Night, but never before had we seen a show that built itself around cheesy/bad movies. On top of that they made fun of these films like we did, only they were actually funny.
For those that may be out of the loop Mystery Science Theater 3000 basically follows the antics of a man (Joel in the early years, Mike in the later ones) who are trapped on the Satellite of Love by a couple of Mad Scientist, who subject them to cinematic experiences. Every week Joel or Mike get sent a movie, and their reactions are observed. Accompanying them on the satellite are a few robots that Joel created as not to be lonely in the depths of space. These robots are Cambot, Gypsy (included as an action figure with this set), Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot. While in the theater Tom and Crow sit to Joel or Mike's side, and together they proceed to riff on the movie as it plays.
The MST3K guys did this for 10 years, and over the years the humor evolved from sort of funny, but slow burn humor during it's initial seasons on Minneapolis public access station KTMA, and on Comedy Central, to a much faster paced with a greater variety of topical humor in the later Comedy Central and Sci-Fi channel years. Interspersed throughout the episodes are host segments which feature Joel and Mike, the robots, and their captors, and are essentially short comedy sketches that allow the cast to shine outside of the theater, and even add some minor character development and plot to the whole proceedings.
Which brings us to Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie was a product of Universal Subsidiary Gramercy pictures, which during a short burst during the early to mid-90's had a pretty good run of putting out some pretty daring films, in addition to some geek friendly fare such as this. The film is essentially your typical MST3K episode transposed to the big screen with larger production values, and an upgrade in film stock (hence this release getting a Blu-ray).
The other interesting thing about MST3K: The Movie is that due to being essentially a Universal production, they had access to the Universal library of films. Universal, as many genre fans know has been a genre powerhouse going back to Hollywood's golden era back in the 1930's. That being said their selection of the Universal classic This Island Earth for the movie, has proven to be quite a controversial selection.
To the casual Mystery Science Theater 3000 viewer, the show always skewed "bad" movies. The fact is Mystery Science Theater 3000 simply needed a movie, the theme song specified "cheesy" movies, and a good majority of them are indeed fit that categorization. However, over it's 10 season run on TV MST3K did riff on a few films that were of legitimately good quality, so This Island Earth ended up coming as no big shock at the time I saw it on video in the 90's.
When watching MST3K it is not about the quality of the movie, but the quality of the comedy, and the humor in MST3K: The Movie is outstanding. Mike Nelson and the 'bots are in top riffing form, and there are a lot of laughs to be had across the films run time. Also, being that the source material is so fantastic it is one of the cases where the film and the riffs are similarly compelling. I was already a fan of This Island Earth, but found myself juggling my attention between the riffs, and the plot of the movie itself.
Overall, MST3K feels like a episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on a much more epic scale. It's as if Mike Nelson and the Bad Brains gang got let loose in Universal Studio's sandbox, and this is what they came up with. The movie is controversial for it's source material selection, but the host segments are funny, and the riffs are completely solid throughout the running time. This is definitely a worthy purchase for International and Region Free capable MST3K fans.
Mediumrare Entertainment have released Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie in a wonderful 1:85:1 1080p Blu-ray transfer. Unfortunately, the copy I received was a plain envelope screener, so I am not sure if this reflects the final version. However, the film between the MST3K host segments, and even This Island Earth have never looked better than they do here. The colors pop, fine detail is excellent, and there is a healthy bit of grain. Now if only Universal would get on producing an actual This Island Earth Blu-ray, I'd be quite happy.
The audio is a fairly basic track, dialogue for both the host segments, riffs, and the movie itself are audible throughout with no evidence of pops, cracks, or hissing. The audio levels between the riffing and the movie never feel as if they are in direct competition, so the movie is still very easy to follow. Overall, a very solid track.
Considering this is labeled the "Humdinger" edition one would think it would be pretty special, and to be honest it is an upgrade compared to the old barebones Universal DVD, but not by much. The set includes a 5 minute making of featurette, a trailer, and a stills gallery.
Any MST3K is a good time in my book, and to have some sort of visual documentation of what Mystery Science Theater 3000 would look like on Blu-ray is quite the treat for a long time fan such as myself, so I would imagine it would please other long time fans of the series. The Blu-ray is actually quite the stunner, and although the extras are on the slim side (especially with all the great stuff Shout! Factory is doing with the series box sets), I would still deem this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!