krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Even after the Star Wars ripoffs, the James Bond ripoffs, the Indiana Jones ripoffs (although this might be more a matter of "personal opinion" than the others), the "Russo-Finnish troika," the "Coleman Francis trilogy," and the Union Pacific shorts, there were still two "thematically linked" episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 I had decided to save until I was working my way into commenting on the "last few" episodes of the series. There are a certain number of episodes from early in the "Mike years" I sort of see as "getting around to" specific types of movies that had been particular features or memorable moments of the "Joel years." When it came to Japanese movies, though, they didn't turn up again until the eighth season. I suppose I'm aware the second of those movies is often termed of the outright "difficult episodes" of the series, which might mean that in the end the joke will be on me. As for "Prince of Space," though, I was at least looking forward to it with straightforward anticipation.

After Tom and Crow's little game of "dog and bear" gets out of hand, Bobo falls into a convenient wormhole looking for a place to "go." Concerned about this changing history and eliminating slot machines, Pearl follows him in, and just as our heroes are waving goodbye she gets "Brain Guy" the Observer to lasso the Satellite of Love and pull it along. Then, it's off to the movie ("So is this going to be a superviolent porn cartoon?"), where things are established with a model shot ("HO scale Japan.") before we get to a nice dinner. ("Aw, ma, tempura again?" "More squid eyes?") "Johnny," the young jacket-tie-and-shorts-clad son of the distinguished but old-looking "Professor Macken," is friends with "Mickey" and "Kimmie," who are the somewhat less exalted shoe-shining trainees of "Wally." Just as Johnny and Mickey are about to tune into the "championship fight," strange visitors from another world cut in on all frequencies as the representatives of Krankor, complete with putty noses, disturbingly revealing tights, and antennas on their heads arrive in a "whole fryer"-like ship. Professor Macken concludes they're intent on stealing his amazing new rocket fuel.

The next day, Japanese officials and military personnel (along with Johnny and Mickey) are approaching the landing site, where the ship is represented by a peculiar sort of periscope sticking out of the undergrowth. ("Ah, the Stanley Cup has invaded Earth, hm.") It vaporises everything of the soldiers but their helmets ("I am the lemon zester of destruction!"), but then the Prince of Space himself arrives in his miniature spaceship. He proclaims the weapons of Krankor are useless against him, and proves it by reflecting them back with a wandlike device. There's then a running ship-to-ship battle ("Into my modified pith helmet!" "An exchange of deadly negative scratches.") which the Krankor ship escapes only by discharging "the caustic vapours."

After the wormhole mixes up time (and Crow's chicken puppet) on the Satellite of Love bridge, the movie continues with Prince of Space saving Johnny and Mickey from the representatives of Krankor, whose weapons continue to be useless against him. They rally and storm the offices of Professor Macken's winged rocket ("Wow, it's a really modern Lutheran church.") launch site, and manage to blow up the rocket ("Oh, the inanity!" "Oh, the Japanity!"). Professor Macken himself is then kidnapped.

As the wormhole transforms Mike into a small robot ventriloquist puppet (with antenna sticking out of his head and the headset microphone visible on the real Mike inside the theatre), Professor Macken gets the full tour of Krankor itself ("It's a DQ planet." "Great Hall design by the Lego Corporation.") Then, Mike snaps back to normal in the space of a commercial break, and the representatives of Krankor sort out that Prince of Space is really Wally. He escapes them, though ("His power apparently lies in his choosing incompetent enemies."), and heads off to Krankor for the final showdown.

Crow, Tom, and Mike emerge from the theatre to go on location in a "sylvan glen," but then it's back to the movie again. After some more ineffectual traps are sprung on Prince of Space, he manages to destroy the entire Krankor compound ("My coop! My beautiful, beautiful coop!" "Ah yes, the ancient Japanese tradition of blowing up models at the end of the movie.") Professor Macken and some other captive scientists escape in the Krankor spaceship, and Prince of Space escorts them back to Earth ("Meanwhile, all the boots on Earth get duller and less black."), as enigmatic as ever. ("This movie made me want to renounce my Toyota.") Things return to normal on the Satellite of Love, but Pearl and Observer find themselves in "Roman times" and are immediately seized...

Before getting to the episode, I'd been contemplating thoughts of it feeling "sharper" yet "nastier" than the Gamera movies (and other "Sandy Frank" outings) of the third season, and even inclined to contemplate whether, as the 1990s wore on, attitudes sprouting from the old concerns about "Japan, Inc." buying up North America changed to thoughts about Japan being "strange" but essentially "non-threatening," at least to those not "stuck" in it. On a less "pretentious" level, I just wondered if Sandy Frank had been a convenient target distracting from comments about where the movies came from in the first place. In the episode itself, though, it did seem things were simply absurd to the point where I was enjoying it all over again. Of course, as I said, things might be different next time...

Date: 2012-07-16 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thrush
I actually love this episode! Of all the bizarre not-so-super heroes Prince of Space is one of the oddest. I especially love the riffs about the uselessness of the aliens' attacks ('I refer you to my earlier codicil regarding the innefectiveness of your weaponry...' or something similar). Although it's not as good as this episode, I think Invasion of the Neptune Men is also pretty funny, so you may enjoy it after all.

Regarding the barbed comments, some of it gets a bit intense for me here... but this is true for me in any of the foreign-made films in the later years, from Jack Frost through Gorgo to the Final Sacrifice. Too often the national stereotype jokes are merely tired cheap shots; Best Brains could do so much better, I don't know why they settled with that. Maybe it's a midwest thing?

Date: 2012-07-17 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thrush
Oh, I see! Yeah, I didn't realise you'd seen them both already.

The thing that makes me not like the Final Sacrifice so much is just how slow and repetitive the film is. This is usually the element that is the hardest for me to get past in the really bad flicks. But it does have some great moments tucked in there. ^_^

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