Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Forgotten Classic - Sun Starchaser The Legend of Orin


I saw this by myself back in the days when there was an actual movie theater here & not one of those mega mall movie theaters. The film practically dripped Star Wars rift but its really its own thing. The film has so many things that I continue to borrow from. I remember buying the dvd for this recently & re watching it. Its a great B movie.
  The movie's biggest claim to fame is how they rotoscoped cell animation over computer animation to make various elements of the movie have a very fluid effect. This is especially true for the spaceships, which are pretty awesome for a movie made in the mid-80's. The rotoscoping technique gives a level of freedom of movement in the spaceship scenes that really stand out from anything else in this era. It's really a treat to watch the Starchaser weave around gun turrets and blasting away the bad guys. 

Now it's been said that Starchaser is just a Star Wars rip-off, and if you look for it you will probably say that too. You have a young "out of touch with the modern world" hero with a sword that cuts through about anything, a wisecracking smuggler who is also captain of a starship (the Starchaser), a prissy comic foil in the ship's computer, and a villian with all the stereotypical profiles for a space opera villain (just like Darth Vader had).
 This is pretty much a waste a Sunday afternoon film on something cheesy kinda movie. Don't expect the meaning of life. Its simply a great watch! 





Plot
Starchaser: The Legend of Orin is a 1985 animated movie. It was written by animation writerJeffrey Scott and was originally released in 3-D by Atlantic ReleasingStarchaser was one of the first animated movies to mix traditional and computer animation. It is the only 3-D film distributed by Atlantic ReleasingAnthony De Longis played the evil Lord Zygon.
The story, set millennia in our future, opens on the fictional planet Trinia, where in a network of subterranean caverns toils a population of human slaves, overseen by anthropomorphic robotsknown as Mine-Masters. These humans are led to believe that only their "Mine-World" exists; that above it is a hell more terrible than their present joyless lives; and that their overlord Zygon, who demands that they mine increasing numbers of Rubidimite, a volatile red crystal native to Trinia, is a messenger of their Gods.
The titular character, Orin, is a young man dwelling under Zygon's theocracy. His most intimate friends are his younger brother Calli, who was blinded by a whiplash across the face; their agedaunt; a young woman called Élan; and her grandfather. One day Orin discovers a jeweled swordembedded in the rocks, whereupon ÉIan's grandfather sacrifices his own life to conceal it from the Mine-Masters. When Orin later takes the sword into his hands, it ascends into the air and buries itself in the cavern's floor. A projection of an old man appears from the blade, saying that above the Mine-World is a "magnificent universe" that the people may find. The blade then disappears, leaving only the hilt.
Although Raimo, another miner, objects to the idea on religious grounds, Orin and Élan embark to discover the said universe. They are pursued by the Mine-Masters, from whom they escape by hiding in the automated car that brings excavated crystals to Zygon. To their surprise, they find a metallic building complex filled with advanced technology beyond the barrier of firethrough which Zygon enters their world. There, they are captured by robots, and Zygon reveals that beneath the demonic mask he has hitherto shown them is the face of a human man. Zygon kills Élan, but is then distracted by Orin's sword hilt, and Orin escapes. When the robots fire on him, they strike a Rubidimite deposit, and in the resultant explosion Orin is hidden from Zygon and presumed dead.
Thereafter Orin digs a tunnel to the surface of Trinia, where he is later captured by Man-Droids, a group of half-organic, half-robotic beings who intend to vivisect him and use his body parts to replace their own, which are decaying. Unexpectedly, his sword's hilt produces what is apparently an invisible blade, killing two of the Man-Droids and helping Orin escape. Orin subsequently runs into a human smuggler named Dagg DiBrimi, who does not believe his story about human mine slaves and dubs him "Water Snake" for his allegedly-glib tongue.
When they are attacked by a guard patrol, Dagg allows Orin to board his aerospace craft, the Starchaser, which is operated by the intelligent board computer Arthur. Dagg seizes a load of Rubidimite crystals from a hovering freighter, but is driven away by Zygon and his robotic guards. During the fight, Dagg seizes a Fembot, a robot built to look and act like a human woman, used to accomplish clerical tasks. Subsequently re-programmed by Dagg, this Fembot, named Silica, becomes attached to him.
Dagg flies the Starchaser to a city called Toga Togo on the planet Bordogon, where he abandons Orin and gives Silica to a slave auctioneer. Orin then wanders through the city, trying to find a clue that will lead him to the location of the sword-hilt's vanished blade, which he believes is the essential factor by which to decide his people's fate. In this search Orin gains a suggestion of dubious truth value from a fortune-teller, consisting of advice to visit a place called Novaluna. Later, Orin sees Silica offered for sale, whereupon he offers high prices to buy her. When the auctioneer finds that Orin has no knowledge of local currency, he takes Orin's freedom in addition to Silica's; but Dagg, moved by his ownconscience, frees them.
Later, Dagg and Orin visit the home of two desert-dwelling merchants, to whom Dagg sells the stolen Rubidimite. Because Zygon has placed a price on Orin's head, the merchants offer to buy Orin as well, but Dagg refuses. In response, the merchants place a time bomb in Dagg's payment. Orin is forewarned by a mysterious "Starfly", whereupon Dagg and Arthur throw the money and bomb into their enemies' camp. Thereafter Dagg agrees to take Orin to Novaluna; but they are shot down by Zygon's robotic soldiers. Dagg is captured and Arthur rendered inactive, whereas Orin is thrown clear of the Starchaser and is rescued by Aviana, the daughter of Bordogon's Governor.
Upon having woken and met Aviana, Orin tells her his story, whereupon Aviana's computer reveals that the bladeless hilt has historically been used by a group of legendary guardians called the Ka-Khan to vanquish threats to humanity. Among these threats was a tyrant called Nexus, after whose defeat the hilt vanished until Orin's discovery of it. Aviana thereafter takes Orin to Trinia, where he again faces Zygon, who is officially Trinia's Commissioner of Trade. Orin attempts to kill Zygon for Élan's death and exposes him as a robot. Zygon then reveals that he is Nexus, seeking again to erect a tyranny over humanity. He has used the last millenia to gradually take control by surreptitiously reprogramming robots into his army and enslaving the populations of certain planets including Trinia, so that they are now prepared for a military strike. Zygon takes Orin's hilt and begins to co-ordinate the attack.
Orin and Aviana are imprisoned in the cell block wherein Dagg is also captive. Here, Orin and Aviana confess sexual feelings toward one another; but Aviana is taken aboard Zygon's flagship as a hostage. Orin is again approached by the Starfly, who brings him the hilt, which he uses to free himself and Dagg. They enter Zygon's flagship and take control of it, using it (again aided by the Starfly) to destroy the enemy fleet. They are rejoined by Silica and Arthur, who have restored the Starchaser.
Orin and his friends penetrate Zygon's base, but are attacked by his remaining troops. While Dagg, Silica, and Arthur stay behind to fight off their pursuers, Orin enters the Mine-World and begins to denounce Zygon, but is interrupted by Zygon himself. They fight, resulting in Orin dangling over a chasm, while Zygon gloats over him. As Orin hangs over the chasm, three Starflies appear and merge into one; but instead of giving him the hilt at his request, it states that he has no need of the hilt, adding that "there never was a blade". Orin therefore realizes that the power to create a cutting force came from himself. At this, he pulls himself up, generates such a force, and uses it to kill Zygon; whereupon his people rise in revolt and win freedom.
Above, Silica mistakenly causes accumulated Rubidimite crystals to explode, triggering a chain reaction which threatens to collapse the Mine-World. Orin then uses the hilt to open a fissure by which his people ascend to Trinia's surface, where Orin uses his new-found power to heal Calli of his blindness. Dagg, Silica, Arthur, and Aviana join Orin and his people there. Moments later, several Starflies reveal themselves to be the spirits of the past Ka-Khan, including the elder man of the hilt's projection. These invite Orin to join them; but he refuses in favor of living a commonplace human lifespan, though he is presumed to join them after death. Thereafter the other Ka-Khan leave him to merge with the stars.

Uses For The OSR 
 The film's plot is practually begging to be ripped off for an old school science fiction game. The intergalactic slave auction, the droids, the mega dungeon mining facility, well you get the idea here! Go to town with the film & have fun! 


Links - 
The screen play for Star Chaser Starchaser.pdf

6 comments:

  1. I would say its sort of a Star Wars ripoff, but it does have a goofy sort of charm. Certainly its worth a rental.

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  2. Agreed. Starchaser is a good afternoon flick with PLENTY for the savvy GM to pick off.

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  3. I was a little nervous with this one because it seems to polarize folks so much. I've recently seen it again & still love to mine it for some ideas. Again folks thanks for the comments. They help to give this blog direction!

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  4. I can detinately see the SW influence but as Trey said it does have its own charm about it.
    Nice post.

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    Mr. Sword

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