REVIEW: “Star Wars Ep 1 RiffTrax”

Jar Jar under attack by Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy? Surely, the Gungan doesn’t stand a chance.

Having only recently acquired enough Internet power to actually download anything over 1 MB in less than six hours, Episode I is my first rifftrax experience.

I started watching MST3k during the Comedy Central days, at about the time Mike took over the hosting duties from Joel. As such, I generally prefer Mike’s episodes though I am somewhat of an oddity in that I enjoy both hosts. I loved the show.

And then Trace left.

Around the same time, MST3k was retooled for the Sci Fi channel. It just wasn’t the same, so I left MST3k behind.

Though obviously curious, I wasn’t sure what to expect from rifftrax. Could Mike and Kevin be funny without Trace?


Though they seemed a bit lost at times on how best to handle Jar Jar (maybe the joke potential was just too high), it definitely felt like the good old days.

In fact, in some ways–without the restrictions of the series’ framework or network interference–it was better than the old days.

CluckYeah, they go after Jar Jar but one of my favorite running jokes was the soft clucking whenever the Queen’s handmaidens appeared on screen wearing decidedly chicken-esque costumes.

When Darth Maul is introduced, he is noted as “Insane clown Sith.”

Pop-culture references are an important part of riffing, and the nature of rifftrax allows them to be timelier than they ever could on a taped TV series.

Even DisembAudio gets into the act, warning Mike and Kevin about an upcoming dialogue-driven scene about politics.

Since I am not hip enough to have an iPod and didn’t feel like moving equipment around, I chose an easy path and simply played the rifftrax MP3 file through Windows Media Player while watching the Star Wars DVD with PowerDVD on the same PC.

Since both players use the same volume control, I wasn’t able to tweak the audio levels as I would’ve liked. Fortunately, rifftrax was the louder of the two. Sadly, I know most of the Star Wars dialogue anyway, so it wasn’t much of a problem that the movie dialogue was a bit lower than I would’ve preferred.

Though my audio would slowly get out of synch, DisembAudio cued me in each time and it was extremely easy to fix. In fact, the natural flow of riffs makes it obvious when the timing begins to get off and makes it easy to fix it yourself even without the help of DisembAudio.

If you’ve been undecided about purchasing rifftrax, stop hesitating and do it. This was definitely the most fun I’ve had watching Episode I in a long while!

(Overall Experience: 9 out of 10)

Link: Mike Nelson’s RiffTrax