It’s actually pretty rare when you get the opportunity to catch a subject of Mystery Science Theater’s riffing in it’s original form. Thanks to Olive Films, we have that chance with Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe.
Originally aired in 1952 as a serialized movie (or a tv show, depending on who you ask), this sci-fi show puts the world in the hands of a masked (hilariously so) super scientist named Cody, who has a jet pack and a rocket ship. Can he save the day?
The Movie (3.5/5)
In a series spanning twelve episodes and clocking in right around the 300 minute mark, there is plenty to keep you busy when watching the adventures of our helmeted protagonist. Commando Cody has been summoned by the government to investigate a series of climate changes that are threatening the planet. These events, as it turns out, are being instigated by a mysterious “Ruler” who is commanding alien forces, leading our hero in a chase around the solar system in a series of bite sized episodes that are each action packed and entertaining (even if they are a bit cheesy).
Commando Cody reeks of classic sci-fi, so fans of the genre will have a lot of fun with it. It is laughably simple in it’s effects when compared to what we have today; there are some plot holes and just plain strange events that take place throughout the run time. It’s not really a surprise that MST3K picked it up to riff on, but hey, all sci-fi from that time was arguably pretty bad, that’s why we love it so.
A personal favorite of mine was the spiked metallic helmets that we see in a particularly awesome episode early on. The spiked mohawk style should be menacing, but when coupled with the rest of the outfits, you can’t help but giggle just a little bit.
Overall, it may be hard to sit through this series if you are into big and flashy productions, but broken into twelve episodes, I think that most people will find entertainment, even if it’s found in creating your own riffs to the silliness that is the 1950’s predictions of the future.
The Picture 4/5
Given the age of the film, I was shocked at quality presented. The picture is surprisingly clear and detailed, even in black and white.
There are a handful of shots that look a bit dirtier than others, but for the most part, this is an absolute gem of a transfer; it’s just too bad that they didn’t film in widescreen at the time. Oh well.
The Sound 4/5
While there may not be anything to write home about in terms of audio, this Mono track sounds about as clear and as good as this series will ever get. The dialog never gets lost in the mix; it is a pleasant listen (even if the sound effects are sometimes hilariously bad).
The Features & Packaging 2/5
Olive has chosen a sturdy Blu-ray case with some really nice looking stylized artwork for the sleeve and the discs. There is no art on the inner sleeve, which is a bit disappointing as it would look great here, but that seems to be a rare luxury. You also get an insert that showcases other Olive releases.
There are unfortunately no special features with this release, which is incredibly disappointing. A trailer or making of would have been appreciated. Also, in cases like these, I would absolutely love it if distributors would reach out to the MST3K guys and license the riffed version as a special feature. That would blow my mind.
The Verdict 5/5
Fans of the old school sci-fi shows and movies will likely be interested in catching Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. It is well presented apart from the lack of features. It is cheesy and simplistic when compared to sci-fi of today, but it is entertaining and good to watch and riff along with friends. I would consider this to be worth a watch for sure.
You can order your copy here.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.