Review: Rifftrax Live – Star Raiders

Previously on ComicMix, we mentioned talked about how friend of ComicMIx and legendary comics creator Mike Grell makes an appearance in the latest movie that the RIfftrax crew did live, Star Raiders. While it’s no Space Mutiny (and really, what is?), Star Raiders has a lot to offer. I’ll be getting into that in the next paragraph though, so bare with me.

For those not in the know, Star Raiders is a Casper Van Dien starring science fiction romp put together with a modest budget. Though principle photography was finished in 2014, the team went to Kickstarter in 2016 to help offset the post production costs that ended up $40,000 over budget. Earlier this year, Star Raiders would appear on Kickstarter again through Rifftrax for their 2019 live riffing roster and to celebrate 10 years of Rifftrax.

Okay, okay, but what do I think about the movie? I was just getting to that I promise!

Basically, Casper Van Dien plays this guy Saber Raine who looks and acts kind of like Mal from Firefly and has to save this prince and princess who ended up getting captured by ancient bad people who have a plot at getting revenge because people were mean to them a while ago. There’s a bunch of other characters that do things sometimes, and a betrayal in the third act that feels pretty forced, and then a bunch of explosions, the heroes win, and they set up a sequel that we probably weren’t going to be getting, but now with the Rifftrax attention maybe that’ll be on the table.

The movie itself feels like a Sylvester McCoy era Doctor Who serial done today. Like, really, the special effects, the costumes, the filming locations, all of it seems about that quality. There were a few times that I genuinely thought I was watching the three parter Delta and the Bannerman. I wish they leaned more into how cheesy and campy it all was.

Honestly, one of the highlights in the movie was Mike Grell’s small role in it.

For Mike Grell’s acting debut, he plays the character of Jax Grymm (yes, we know, GrimJack), who steals the show for a precious couple of minutes when Casper Van Dien goes to him asking for help. The moment does feel like it could of been in Firefly or Blake’s 7 where a couple of morally questionable individuals are trying to work out a deal as you wait for one (or both) of them to double-cross each other. Everyone makes it out alive in this scene, however, so perhaps this means we’ll get more Jax Grymm if they ever make the sequel they tease at the end.

While this movie fails to deliver on its promise of the high adventure serials that it pulls inspiration from, it definitely delivers for the low budget sci-fi junkie crowd. If you’re into SyFy Channel Original Movies, this could make for some good Sunday afternoon watching.

If you’re watching this with Rifftrax, that’s another story.

This is one of the stronger Rifftrax Live events I’ve gone to recently. There are few if any boring lulls in the film like Octoman which gives our riffers Mike, Bill, and Kevin a lot to work with here. And like the best of MST3K and Rifftrax, they create a through-line with jokes going back to Casper Van Dien’s career having led him here and poor Gary getting killed all the time that honestly just never get old.

I highly recommend you check out the Rifftrax for this if you haven’t already. After it’s done showing in theaters, you can purchase it right on their website. For those braver souls out there reading this, you can check out the movie without Rifftrax on Amazon Prime.