MiSTies rejoice! For the days of seeking out absurdly expensive copies of the long-OOP VHS and DVD editions of this neglected and ignored theatrical adaptation of the cult TV phenomenon are over! At long last, Universal has seen fit to finally profit from the thoroughly bootlegged MST3K feature film. At least they did it right.
It's still an unusual experience to watch host segments shot on film, and in-theater riffing performed in theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Besides providing a suitable format for the targeted classic schlock This Island Earth (first presented in weirdo 2:1), it affords us a view of more in-theater seats! That's about all. Unlike any of the Rhino discs of the TV series that I've watched, this DVD also includes very good English subtitles and a French dubbed audio track! The former render the dialogue of the movie in italicized text, specify who's saying what in the audience and are surprisingly easy to read. Both the movie and riffing dialogue of the French dub are also impressive; the voice actors really nailed the unique irreverence and personalities of Mike, Servo and Crow. Universal has made a big deal of this edition's remastered picture, and for good reason: it really does look great, as good as anyone could expect on DVD. It sounds fine in either language, too.
As good as this is, it really can't compare to the fan-made special and 10th Anniversary Hamdinger editions, the special features of which included the film's original ending, deleted host segment, theatrical trailer, TV spots and various homemade featurettes. The overall quality of Universal's disc is higher, but the studio couldn't be bothered to include cut and promotional footage. Even though it's unnecessary, this disc doesn't even feature a scene selection menu.
The MST3K movie is a good example of how ham-fisted execs can limit the potential of what could have been a more successful project. As an amusing host segment and quite a lot of the riffed movie were cut at the behest of Gramercy Pictures, the resulting film runs a scant 74 minutes - about fifteen minutes less than that of the usual MST3K episode. Poorly and carelessly promoted, the film barely grossed $1M and was in and out of theaters in less than a week. Nonetheless, it's quite good: Best Brains functioned well with a larger budget at their disposal, and the riffing is every bit as funny as that of the best episodes. Naturally, this belongs in the collection of any MiSTie, but it's as good an introduction for the uninitiated as any of the first-season episodes.
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About the reviewer
Robert Buchanan (rbuchanan)
I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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