The Curator of Schlock #327 by Jeff Shuster
Starchaser: The Legend of Orin
Still better than Rise of Skywalker
As I’ve stated. I’ve been residing in a wonderful, antebellum mansion with my manservant, Jervis, blissfully sheltered from the chaos of the outside world. My role as curator of The Museum of Schlock is becoming a distant memory, but I almost feel too at ease in this place. There is one thing that bothers me though. The door to the basement is locked. I want to know what’s down there. Jervis says it’s just a bunch of canned preserves, to not worry myself about it. Still, I have to see it for myself.
This week’s movie is 1985’s Starchaser: The Legend of Orin from director Steven Hahn. I was a child in the 80s and somehow this one never made it on my radar. Starchaser is an animated science fiction that borrows from Star Wars. You’ve got a young hero wielding a sword of mysterious energy, a surly smuggler, a princess in distress, a villain clad in black, weird aliens, funny robot companions, and spaceships galore. A major selling point of this movie is that it was billed at the first animated 3D movie.
It’s strange to watch Starchaser for the first time after I’ve been subjected to Stars Wars Special Editions, a prequel trilogy, a sequel trilogy, spinoff movies and animated series. I’m not saying that I’m sick of Star Wars; it’s just that I’m sick of Star Wars. I think I was 6-years-old when I saw Return of the Jedi. The movie came out. It was a big deal, but it left theaters and everyone seemed to move on from Star Wars. As cool as my Star Wars toys were, I moved on to Indiana Jones and Universal Monsters action figures. Other kids started obsessing over He-Man and Transformers. Star Wars felt kind of done.
I can only imagine that Starchaser: Legend of Orin was an attempt to rekindle that flame since George Lucas had moved on to other masterpieces like Howard the Duck. Don’t be blinded by nostalgia. The 80s was an odd decade for popular culture and it seemed for every hit, there was a miss. Starchaser was critically panned upon release, many dismissing it as a nothing more than a Star Wars knockoff. I watched an old At the Movies episode, and Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert weren’t kind. In fact, I think Siskel wondered if the producers of this movie might be hearing from George Lucas’s lawyers.
However, Siskel and Ebert did make one interesting observation. They were impressed with how the movie did 3D. Instead of launching objects at the screen, Starchaser played around with depth of field. Could it be that the technology employed in our modern 3D movies was first pioneered in an animated Star Wars knock-off from 1985? I don’t know. It might be worth investigating.
That’s all I’ve got for you this week.