krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Five of the six movies in the latest series of Mystery Science Theater 3000 were revealed a little while before they went up on Netflix by a British ratings classification site. Some of the titles got my attention because I'd heard at least a bit about their reputations before. As I've already said, I'd seen "MAC and Me" described as an "E.T. ripoff with even more product placement" years ago. For the second episode of "The Gauntlet," though, having heard about the title not quite as many years ago had me wondering just a bit about how things would turn out, and without happening to notice a perhaps overwrought reaction from someone else.

When I'd first heard of "mockbusters," contemporary ultra-cheap productions with titles close enough to big-budget spectaculars to raise the suspicion they're meant to make their money back from incautious shoppers picking out DVDs in a hurry, I was amused enough to record a block of them off the science fiction channel of my country. When I started watching the first title of the block, though, "Transmorphers" very quickly had me thinking there really is the sort of "cheesy movie" that rewards the particular sort of comedic commentary of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and the sort of just plain "bad movie" that fills a time slot but in all its drab particulars offers no springboard to humour. With the unfortunate suspicion the people watching were the ones being "mocked," I didn't get around to watching the other titles, even though I knew one of them was a ripoff of Pacific Rim.

Beyond that the Mystery Science Theater 3000 writers are professionals, though, "Atlantic Rim" did have a certain amount of overacting where "Transmorphers" had just seemed "blah." I could wish something more might have been said in the "riffing" about the "more average than movie stars" performers and the locations being pressed into service to represent more expensive places, but perhaps this could be seen as the movie offering "an embarrassment of riches." "Atlantic Rim" did seem rather closer in plot to Pacific Rim than the previous "mockbuster" had been to its own target anyway, although I noticed it left out one of the most original elements of the more expensive movie, namely that two people had to mentally control one giant robot together. Eventually, however, the "mockbuster" did end up bringing up "mental control" anyway; that does seem to keep working its way into "Western takes" on the topic where mecha anime can just brush by the question.

I am conscious I might want to be more positive towards Pacific Rim than some, if only because I was exposed to the concept of "piloted giant robots" early enough that I can suspend disbelief; I might even have to admit to trying to like the movie more for what it represented via "domestic live action" than what it really was. Still, the riffing happened to mention Neon Genesis Evangelion in such a way as to seem aware of more than the title; I did also happen to think of how Netflix has shelled out the money to stream the anime, although the "riff" was surely written long before that was announced. Along the way, there might have been one brief dig at Pacific Rim Uprising. Still, having got one third of the way through "The Gauntlet" while enjoying it has me ready to take on its remaining episodes in turn.

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