Reviews

Mystery Science Theater 3000

For anyone who wants to get in touch with their inner 11-year-old, this is just the thing.


Mystery Science Theater 3000

Director: Jim Mallon
Cast: Jim Mallon, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Michael J. Nelson
Distributor: Universal
MPAA rating: PG-13
Subtitle: The Movie
First date: 1996
US DVD Release Date: 2008-05-06

The plot of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (such as it is) is relatively simple. An evil mad scientist, Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) is plotting to take over the world. By showing an appropriately awful movie, he plans to sap the spirit of the human race to the point that its members will be ready to grant him global domination.

This isn’t quite as crazy and stupid as it sounds, as anyone who’s been watching the cable news coverage of the US presidential primaries since January can tell you. Dr. Forrester shoots Mike Nelson (Michael J. Nelson), a very amiable and mild mannered everyman, into space. Confined on a satellite, Mike must either watch any movie the evil Dr. Forrester chooses or have his air supply cut off. Mike sensibly agrees to watch the movie.

Fortunately, Mike is not alone. He has three robot companions, Gypsy (Jim Mallon), Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy) and Crow T. Robot (Trace Beaulieu). Gypsy keeps the satellite running while Servo and Crow take on the far more hazardous task of watching the movie with Mike. Though the movie starts with a pretty good spoof of 2001: A Space Odyssey the running commentary of Mike, Crow and Servo as they suffer through a cheesy movie is the real fun in this show. The comments are rather witty, keeping me in a near constant state of giggles. Every latent reaction that a viewer can have to any aspect of the movie being parodied is anticipated by the writers. This allows the cast and the viewer to have the same reaction to the same material at the same time. It's a bit scary to contemplate (how did they know?) but it's quite an accomplishment.

The cheesy movie that is skewered on the satellite is the ‘50s classic This Island Earth. I rather like This Island Earth, but even so I must admit that it does lend itself to the full Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. There’s a studly nuclear physicist who flies his own jet. There’s another physicist who’s quite buxom and screams nicely. There are aliens with huge sloping foreheads pretending to be human. There’s a doomed planet that’s losing an interstellar war and, to top it all off, there’s a race of mutant insectiod slaves that starts disobeying orders and carrying on cranky.

All of this is perfect Saturday morning fun which is exactly what Mystery Science Theater 3000 was. The show was very entertaining and has a huge cult following with a web presence that’s larger and more sophisticated than NASA’s. But for everything there is a proper place and the last place Mystery Science Theater 3000 belongs is in a movie theater. It’s as silly as making a movie of the old Speed Racer show. (Oh wait -- they did that, didn’t they?)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie is rated PG-13 which means that someone deemed its material unsuitable for children under 13 years old. Utter and complete nonsense! This movie is absolutely perfect for 11-year-olds. There’s a bit of profanity thrown around, (considerably less than heard in a fifth grade classroom, actually) which neither adds nor detracts from the enjoyment of the movie. There’s also some sexual innuendo that’s a lot tamer than what’s heard on The Simpsons. So parents needn’t worry, it’s good clean fun.

So if you are a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and you can’t get the local comic book guy to loan you his copy, then Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie is a good buy for you. A better value would be in ordering DVDs of the old episodes, since most of them are just as good if not better than the movie. But for anyone who wants to get in touch with their inner 11-year-old, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, is just the thing.

5

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image