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  Starchaser: The Legend of Orin Back To The PlanetBuy this film here.
Year: 1985
Director: Steven Hahn
Stars: Joe Colligan, Carmen Argenziano, Noelle North, Anthony De Longis, Les Tremayne, Tyke Caravelli, Daryl Bartley, John Moschitta Jr, Tina Romanus, Thomas H. Watkins, Mickey Morton, Michael Winslow, Cathy Cavadini, Greg Finley
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Orin (voiced by Joe Colligan), as with the rest of his fellow slaves, toils in the mines, never wishing to see the surface due to the tale they have heard that Hell itself is above them. They are digging for crystals needed by the one they worship, Zygon (Anthony De Longis), which they offer up to him in return for food, but the slaves are kept in their place and hard at work by the robot slavedrivers who wield energy beam whips. One day, Orin is mining away when he discovers a sword in the rock; his girlfriend's grandfather implores him to hide it from the guards, but when two of them stride over to see what is happening, the grandfather is so severely punished that he is killed. Orin is told by an image in the sword that he must fight back, and although the message is vague, he realises that life must not go on like this, and he might be the man to change it...

Star Wars-inspired science fiction movies were still being made even after Return of the Jedi was completed, and Starchaser was an animated run over a well-trodden path. Scripted by Jeffrey Scott, it stuck fast to the accustomed clich├ęs of the genre, but this time it had a distinct advantage over its rivals: yes, this one was in three dimensions. So not only was it one of the Star Wars cash-ins, but it was part of the 3-D craze as well, an eighties phenomenon that threw up such all time classics as, erm, Jaws 3-D and Amityville 3-D. At least this gimmick was well suited to the lightweight nature of this film's story.

Over the course of that story, there's a distinctly messianic theme to Orin's adventures, the old one about the Christ-like figure promising to lead his enslaved people out of their bondage and into the promised land. Or was that Moses? Anyway, Orin and his girlfriend decide the best course of action is to escape with the sword, now reduced to a hilt for some reason. Leaving behind the relentlessly whining, mawkish blind boy and promising to be back someday, they break through into the world beyond, only to be stopped dead in their tracks by the appearance of Zygon, who it turns out is a man wearing a mask. Sadly, the girlfriend is literally stopped dead, and Orin only manages to make it away thanks to a freak cave-in.

As you can see by its keenness to do away with a sympathetic character so early on in the narrative, Starchaser has pretentions to being more adult in nature than many of its kind. Even though it's a cartoon. That kids would want to see. When Orin gets out and finally reaches the surface, he meets a few gruesome cyborgs who want to remove and use his body parts, in another aspect that suggests an uncertainty of audience. He is then saved by Han Solo, sorry, make that Dagg (Carmen Argenziano), a rogue with his own talking spaceship that Orin hitches a ride on, not that he has much choice. And so it continues, attractively animated without being a total knockout, and with a strange tendency to include mild swear words in the dialogue: "Bastards!", "Ungrateful son of a bitch!" "Sorry-ass motherfu - " oops, well, they don't quite go that far. With off colour jokes perhaps the kids of the day thought they were seeing something nearer the knuckle than, say, the latest Disney. It might be a little more distinctive because of it, but Starchaser is still the same old hackneyed story. Music by Andrew Belling.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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