Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985)

star-chaserA long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, uh—I mean, many moons ago in a distant universe, there lived a young miner and slave named Orin. He was a long haired heroic young man who mined for red gems for an advanced race for… whatever reason. It’s never fully explained. One day while in the mines, Orin and his other slaves discover a long lost hilt from a mystical sword that contains advanced powers. Convinced by his friends to break free and fulfill the destiny from he magical entity within the sword, Orin breaks out from his imprisonment with girlfriend Elan, and seeks his destiny.

It’s not hard to see why “Starchaser” allegedly has such a huge fan base. Sometimes it’s an off the wall and unusual fantasy adventure, and other times it’s painfully derivative and silly. The story of a young man in a dangerous planet sent to fulfill his destiny by a magical old man with a powerful sword is pure “Star Wars” up and down. And the film never really stops borrowing from “Star Wars,” presenting the gun toting scoundrel, sassy robots, and even the director’s own version of the AT-AT robots. “Starchaser’ has a unique appeal to it, because while director Steven Hahn insisted his film is mainly for younger audiences, the film watches a lot like a Ralph Bakshi film.

One of the animators worked alongside the animator, and the film shows with very lifelike human characters, and surreal landscapes and monsters. I almost expected a bare boob or sex scene at some point, but “Starchaser” only practices sexual innuendo for the most part. In one scene, hero Dagg, tames a female robot by sealing her mouth shut, and rewiring her from a port in her butt, which makes her so much more submissive and amorous. I’d be hard pressed to suggest this to kids, as it’s so much more suitable for younger adults that are interested in “Star Wars” mythology but don’t want to see the actual films. “Starchaser” borrows endlessly from the Lucas film, even down to a dark villain with a menacing mask who rules over everyone.

All of those elements would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that the film itself contains so many inexplicable elements that are never explained or resolved. What are the red gems for? Why are the miners stuck below? Where did the rest of their race go? Most of all, how in the hell does Orin’s sword hilt work? Is it powered by his force of good? His sense of innocence? Is it a sentient device like the Sword of Omens? For the most part, “The Legend of Orin” is a neat artifact of the post-“Star Wars” rush by studios to bank on the science fiction fantasy genre. But on its own, it’s only a fairly serviceable film with some fine animation, and fun concepts. It just lacks the awe and wonder of the aforementioned George Lucas film, and never realizes its own ideas to their full potential.