MST3K: Star Force – Fugitive Alien II | Varied Celluloid

MST3K: Star Force – Fugitive Alien II

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 18 - 2012

MST3K: Star Force – Fugitive Alien II (1991)
Starring: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, and Kevin Murphy



The Plot: In the not-too-distant future, Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgeson) is abducted by his boss at Gizmonic institute and shot into outer space. His boss, Dr. Forrester, then sends Joel the very worst movies that he can find in order to document his reactions. Joel, who has built two robot friends named Crow and Tom Servo, does his best to improve this bad situation by having a good time and riffing on the movies with his robot pals. In this episode, Dr. Forrester forces Joel to watch the sequel to the awful Japanese science fiction title Fugitive Alien. This film, now titled Star Force: Fugitive Alien II, picks up right where the first movie left out. The ship is still floating through space and the ultimate goal is to make it to a distant planet where they are to sabotage a powerful weapon that can destroy planets. Along the way, the “tenperature” begins to rise as they get uncomfortably close to a black hole, and then dramatic tensions onboard the ship threaten everything that ties our crew together. Can they survive these impossible odds?


The Review
If you have read my review for the MST3K episode Fugitive Alien, then you would likely expect that I had some reservations before popping in this second disc from the latest MST3K boxset. If you guessed this, then you would be correct for the most part. Indeed, Fugitive Alien was far from a favorite episode of mine. However, it wasn’t terrible. The biggest problem was that it was generally just monotonous. The plot seemed tedious, the pacing was lazy, and the episodic nature of the plot never seemed to have any sort of resolutions. Skipping forward to this sequel, I expected more of the same. Afterall, both “movies” were cut from the same cloth. They were both edited from the same exact television program, so surely they would have a lot in common. Thankfully, these two differentiate from one another in some distinct ways. For instance, the plot actually manages to somehow pack in more content than the first film ever managed to do. Unfortunately, this higher focus on action comes at an expense to the narrative, but for the most part we are looking at a leaner product. With that toned pace also comes higher quality riffing, and overall we are dealing with a much more impressive sequel!

When dealing with a episodic film like this one, Joel and the bots are at their best when they are pointing out the ridiculousness of the situations that occur. One of the moments that most amused me was watching the MST crew muse over just what has happened during the plot of Fugitive Alien II. Honestly, if these guys are confused, and they watched this movie a dozen times in preparation for this episode, what hope does the audience have? As they also point out, the plot is so obviously padded and filled with scenes that are lacking in any point that it becomes nearly impossible to understand the film in any linear fashion. Although there is a very loose plot to be found in Fugitive Alien II, due to the horrible editing you would have to take extensive notes just on the characters and plot keys in order to play along. However, despite the tragic nature of the editing, this movie does pack more action and becomes much more humorous due to the silly “episodes” that pop up during its runtime. The sequence where the crew of the ship must deal with the heat becoming unbearable is certainly full of golden moments. The gauge on the ship’s dash that reads “tenperature” goes down as a classic moment in MST3K history, and it along makes this episode quite memorable.

Although I have seen some who argue otherwise, for my money this is an infinitely more entertaining episode of MST3K. The pace of the riffing seems to be sped up, the quality of the interaction between the crew and the movie itself seem to be much more focused, and the way that things actually seem to “happen” in this movie seems to encourage a much more memorable product. The only downside is that you have to actually sit through Fugitive Alien II in order to experience all of these funny little moments. I mean, audiences should know that the episode is going to be pretty good when the bots start to sing and make up theme songs. This is an occurrence that almost always seems to be a sign of quality. Their rendition of the Fugitive Alien theme song is a continual joke that comes back and forth during the riffing, but they also have a song called “I Love Ken” that Crow and Tom Servo sing during one of the bumper segments. This little duet turns out to be a little weak, but its funny to see Tom Servo improvise random backup lyrics while Crow tries his best to “croon.”

These two movies, Fugitive Alien and Fugitive Alien II, actually give an interesting view of a series that may actually be somewhat decent. The way that August Ragone described the series on the first DVD in this set makes it seem a bit chancy, but the overall look of the series is classic science fiction. Jo Shishido is always great to see in anything he stars, but the rest of the cast all have a certain energy to them as well. Aside from the performances, however, one of the key issues that intrigues me about the original Star Wolf TV show is the general set design. The movie looks like it was crossed between the aesthetics of the 80s and 70s, which means that there’s a definite dose of flash within the design of this show. The spaceships and model work are also actually quite well done for this sort of production. There are numerous shots that simply look cheap, but occasionally you can concede that some very knowledgeable people worked behind the scenes on this TV program. There are numerous beautiful looking sets throughout the “movie,” and the costumes might be ridiculous but they are also quite imaginative. Especially the white makeup that the evil villain of this movie wears. An obvious attempt to make a low-rent Darth Vader without all of the armor, this character still manages to work. This is an observation that even Joel makes by the close of this episode. Unfortunately, the orange jumpsuits that the rest of the cast wear are not ideal.


The Conclusion
While some others may disagree, I found Star Force: Fugitive Alien II to be one of the best titles on this set. The inclusion of a documentary based around Sandy Frank himself is certainly a part of what makes this disc so great, but the episode itself earns the four out of five rating that it receives. However, I highly recommend the documentary as well!




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