Film Reviews:

Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie

(Jim Mallon, US, 1996)

I'd heard about the US TV show that spawned this theatrical release over a number of years, but had never seen it. The TV series is essentially screenings of old, supposedly 'bad', SF films with writer/presenter Mike Nelson and two robot buddies commenting on the films much as viewers at home might. In the US at least, the show appears to have built up something a cult following. But then most crap does given the opportunity. Presentationally, to the bottom of the film image has been added the silhouette of cinema seats, three of them occupied by Nelson and company, creating the effect that you are sitting behind our hosts in the cinema watching the same thing they are (only obscured slightly by their presence). In the case of this theatrical version, it Joseph Newman's (admittedly usually overrated) 1955 film This Island Earth that is subjected to director Mallon, and Nelson's own mediocre talents.

The raison d'etre of MST3K (as fans like to refer to it) is to poke gentle (but presumably affectionate) fun at old SF movies. If this sounds like an entertaining idea to you then you might want to see this. If, on the other hand, it sounds rather pointless, no matter how good the writing of the contemporary commentary then, like me, you will not want to waste too much of your precious time on this Earth watching this. To me, the concept sounded naff from the off. But I was always curious. So when this was recently aired on UK terrestrial TV in the wee small hours, I popped in a video tape, set the timer and wondered just what might turn up.

Unfortunately, this is as dismal as I feared. No, actually it's much worse. I have to put all my honesty cards on the table, and I can't tell you how rare this is for me, but I only watched about ten minutes before giving up. The jokes are simply not funny, and the whole thing is creakily amateurish. These guys have got a nerve to poke fun at any old movie! Anyone with a couple of randomly selected friends could easily do as good at job at home - without paying for the privilege of having Nelson and his buddies do it for you - only worse. I've now spent as much time on this review as I did watching this lame piece of junk. Time to stop. 1/10

Rob Dyer  (July 2004)

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