Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Starcrash: Part Two

There's just something truly enjoyable about movies like this.  You could try to enjoy it ironically, but you can't.  To enjoy it ironically (even though it means mangling the definition a bit more) you have to enjoy it for the opposite reasons of why it was created.  Enjoying a movie that tries to be dramatic as goofy is "ironic."  Enjoying this movie is just...well, enjoying it.

And what's not to enjoy?  When we last left off, Stellar Star and a robot named L managed to escape from a giant stop motion Amazon robot by falling down a lot and getting rescued by a ship with giant lasers.  Obviously, whatever mission they're on, the right crew was picked out for it.

So the journey to recover the rest of whatever survivors were left from that ship from the beginning that we know nothing about continues, and we haven't even had a glimpse yet of David Hasselhoff!  Hurry up, movie!




We open with the guy whose head looks like someone glued a whole bunch of Arby's curly fries to his scalp talking about their next planet, the ice one that the ship was near when it blew up.  Listen to this dialogue:

"Red fogs, high winds, low gravity.  The air is breathable, and the atmospheric conditions are stable.  However, the entire planet is covered in ice and snow.  And you must be careful when the sun sets; the temperature drops thousands of degrees and in an instant everything freezes over."

"Sounds like a real garden spot.  But you know what I say: I don't care."

Obviously the best pick for a rescue mission.

Stellar and L head out to investigate the crashed ship, and Stellar wisely chose to actually cover herself up

Oh, hey, Stellar asks L if he sees any sign of the Emperor's son, so I guess that's who they're searching for.  Stellar figures it's pointless to continue the search since everybody on the main ship died and it's impossible to tell who is who is the burnt out wreckage, and L seems to agree so they start the long walk back to their ship (because for some reason the ship couldn't fly any closer?).

Meanwhile, the poor man's Robert Reed is playing with a small beam of energy because apparently he  has "powers."  Oh, and the ship's computer talks to him because it's a giant brain.  No, seriously.


I'm pretty sure that thing was the powerful alien in Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills.

Suddenly, BETRAYAL!  L's bald sidekick smacks Coily on the back of the head to knock him out, and reports in to his boss, Zarth Arn.  Zarth inquires about Stellar Star and L, but the bald one- hold on, I just heard his name a moment ago.  What was it?

Thor?  Seriously?

Well, okay, then.  Thor indicates to Zarth Arn that all they have to do is leave Stellar and L on the planet and it'll do the job of killing them, so Zarth commands Thor to return back to his base.  Thor agrees, and says, and I can't make this up, "Soon I will join you as your prince of darkness!"

So, there's some kind of kinky relationship going on between Thor and Zarth Arn.  Maybe they make a cute couple.



...well, as long as they make each other happy, that's all that matters, right?

Where was I?  Oh, right.  Stellar and L- what's that?  It's actually "Elle?"  ...um, okay.  Sure, I can go with that.

Elle and Stellar get back to the ship, just to have Thor mock them from the display screen.  Unfortunately, he can't take off at the moment because of a "malfunction" that the ship's computer is unable to diagnose, which pretty much means everybody's stuck for now.

Stellar and "Elle" (man, the old way was cool, this just feels weird) try to figure out how to survive as the sun starts to go down, and Elle comes up with a plan.  He tells Stellar to lie down on the snow and hold his hand, and he'll use his "energy" to keep her heart going so she'll be in suspended animation.

Now, I'm no scientist, but when the temperature goes down "thousands of degrees" I'm pretty sure that's not suspended animation.

Oh, and let's talk about Stellar's outfit here.


Now, maybe I'm just silly, but if that's supposed to be metal, it seems like a pretty stupid thing to wear on an ice planet.  Otherwise, it looks like someone just crafted a medieval breast plate out of duct tape (oh, and gloves) and had her wear it over a full body stocking.

What you can't see are the high heel boots she was walking across a snow field in, because it's the 70s, so of course they're high heeled.

Elle and Stellar have a moment where they appreciate each other and indicate they're the best friends each other ever had.  Meanwhile, Thor is still struggling to get the ship to leave, but he also failed to realize that a bar on the back of the head wouldn't be able to break through hair as powerful as Acton's, and the two get into a huge fight.  It appears Thor has the upper hand when suddenly Acton's eyes sparkle and he suddenly seems to gain super powers including super strength, the ability to absorb and reflect pistol laser blasts, and the ability to make this face:


Needless to say, Thor doesn't stand a chance, and dies as Acton uses his magical hair powers to reflect laser blasts back at him.

Acton radios Elle, who bursts free from the ice and snow that built up over him and Stellar.  He brings Stellar back to the ship and-


...I don't know why, but that's the funniest thing I've seen in this movie so far.

Fortunately, Acton's god powers allow him to slowly thaw Stellar out and bring her back from the brink of death, and there are some little touches here that I really like.  When Stellar thaws, her hair and outfit actually look wet as the snow and ice melt off of her, and you see droplets of water fall from her hand as the last little bit of it falls from her.  That's a good touch, one that even modern movies like The Last Airbender tends to forget about.

Of course, then Stellar sits up and her hair is perfectly in place, but we can't have everything be perfect.

It turns out Acton also has the ability to look into the future (because why not?) so he knew that Thor was going to betray them.  It's why he "borrowed" a "reactor" (see: a small tube) to keep the ship from taking off.   Stellar asks why Acton never told her this since it would mean she could've avoided a lot of trouble she got into, and Acton responds with "because you would've tried to change the future, and that's against the law."

Um, isn't what you just did by sabotaging the ship because you knew Thor would betray you kinda the same thing, Acton?

 Well, at least Stellar is able to slip back into something that barely covers her body.  She must feel better.

The three head off to the last planet, just to have Acton's ability to see the future completely fail them as they get caught up in the same red energy that blew up the other ship.  The energy drops Elle and Stellar quickly, but Acton rides it out like, well, like he simply can't be bothered to overact and clutch his head.  That hair keeps him safe from everything.



Once the energy leaves (seriously, it just gets bored and wanders off), Acton helps Stellar up and explains they just survived an attack from "the most dangerous weapon in the galaxy."  Stellar responds with "We have?!" in the same way you'd tell someone they just won a thousand dollars in the lottery.

They arrive on the last planet, and Stellar actually puts on a somewhat sensible space suit this time to walk around the strange and possibly hostile landscape.  Oh, and apparently Elle is afraid of steam.  For...reasons?

They spot the last shuttle, and Elle decides it's "time for a little robot chauvinism" (his words, not mine) and insists Stellar wait for him at the edge of the impact crater while he goes to investigate.   All is not safe, however, because suddenly the two are attacked by an entire tribe of the "Its...!" guy from Monty Python!



The cave people get the best of Stellar almost immediately, but Elle is able to blast a few before he's surrounded.  But still, robot space cop with laser pistols against a bunch of cave people with sticks?  We all know how this is going to turn out, right?


...whoops.

The cave people carry Stellar back to their caves for what I can only assume are noble purposes, and string her upside down near a fire, which I'm sure was the inspiration for the opening scene from the new Tomb Raider game.  Things look bleak for her, when suddenly a strange alien with eye beams shows up and scares off the cave people.  He frees Stellar and they sneak deeper into the cave system to hide.

Stellar asks the strange creature what he is, and the stranger reveals the weird alien face is just a helmet.  He takes it off and-


WE HAVE HASSELHOFF!  I REPEAT, WE HAVE HASSELHOFF!  THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

Strangely enough, I don't think Hasselhoff's voice is dubbed over.  They probably couldn't get anybody who could equal the power of his voice.

Two get a chance to breathe, but are soon after attacked by cave people again.  This time, however, Stellar is inspired by the glory of watching David Hasselhoff in combat, and the two manage to hold off the forces long enough for rescue to appear.


ACTON WITH A LIGHTSABER TO THE RESCUE!

Acton reveals that not only did he know Stellar would be in trouble (jerk), but that this is Zarth Arn's mystery planet where his ultimate weapon is hidden.  The three start heading deeper into the caves to search for Zarth Arn's base.

This takes all of ten seconds.

Once inside, we know things are going to get intense.  After all, the fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of these three:


So it turns out that there are no real giant red space monsters, they find a control station with rows of "automated computers" that project the laser points into peoples minds, driving them mad.  They get ready to blow it up when SUDDENLY-


If "Zarth Arn and the Duckbots" isn't the name of a real band, then I think somehow we've failed as a species.

Zarth Arn reveals that David Hasselhoff is actually the Emperor's son (which Acton knew, of course).  He also reveals that he contacted the Emperor and let him know that his son is on the planet, so the Emperor is travelling through space to get him back.  Unfortunately, what the Emperor doesn't know is that Zarth Arn plans on blowing up "everything."

...okay, surely they just mean the installation, not the whole planet, right?  That's silly, even for this movie.

Zarth Arn assigns the duckbots to keep their three prisoners in the room to make sure they die when the place goes up (instead of having his guards just shoot them now?).

This, of course, leads to the highlight of the movie:  Acton wielding a lightsaber fighting two stop motion duckbots with swords.


It's just as awesome as you think it is.  No, actually, it's more awesome.

Acton is able to take out one of the robots, but while he's posing with his lightsaber stuck inside one of them, the other takes advantage of what I believe is called an "opening" to slash his arm.  This makes Acton drop his lightsaber, and this is when it gets real.


David Hasselhoff, master swordsman!

Actually, no, he's a terrible swordsman, and is overwhelmed by the robot.  Acton, however, is able to utilize the classic "run up behind it and shove it" technique of combat to make the robot explode.

While the Emperor's ship gets closer, Acton "foresees" himself dying in the chamber, and refuses to get up and leave with Stellar and Hasselhoff.  I love Stellar's line here:  "I don't understand, you never die!"

...just because he hasn't done it before doesn't mean he won't do it at least once, Stellar.

So let's see, Thor was a traitor killed by Acton, Elle got destroyed by cave people, and Acton-



...Acton is... being Acton, I guess?

So, um, what next?  Well, now's a pretty great time for Christopher Plummer to show up!


Yes, the Emperor has arrived and is reunited with his son.

But with only seconds left, how can they possibly escape the planet covered in nuclear bombs?  (Hasselhoff's words, not mine)

Well, that's simple.  Christopher Plummer casually looks around, steps forward, and yells to his spaceship "Imperial battleship!  Halt the flow of time!"

...wait, hold on, I didn't hear that right.

Let me rewind here....okay.  Sword fight, sword fight, Acton's dying words, Christopher Plummer arrives, stop the flow of time.

...huh.

The movie really thinks it can get away with this?


...I guess so!

Fortunately Stellar, Hasselhoff, the Emperor and his troops are immune to "time stopping" and are able to use the time- or, well, the not time?  Anyway, they're able to escape the planet without worrying about being blown up.

Oh, and I was wrong.  They were willing to blow up the whole planet.

So...uh, is that the end of the movie?

Nope!  Now we have our final space battle as the Emperor prepares to take the fight right to Zarth Arn's doorstep, because you do not #&*% with Christopher Plummer.

The imperial battleship launches a fleet of what I can only describe as "fighter craft" but it appears more like a lot of stock footage being looped over and over again in an attempt to give an impression of numbers.

Back at Zarth Arn's claw fortress, Zarth Arn is taking a little time to..."celebrate."


Zarth Arn takes the news of the approaching fleet rather poorly, and swears that "by sunset, I will be the new Emperor!"

...um, you're on a space station.  Is there ever really a "sunset" on there?

I love the fact that when the station gets ready for the fleet's arrival, the fingers actually curl and turns the whole thing into a crude fist.  Open palms for diplomacy and scheming, closed hand for combat.  It makes sense!

The ships do their best to make the combat seem dramatic, like the attack on the Death Star, but here's my question...

YOU HAVE A WEAPON THAT STOPS TIME.

Why do you need to risk your pilot's lives in combat against a space station when you have freeze time for something the size of a planet?

Then...the movie just gets silly.

No, I mean sillier.  The imperial battleship launches "torpedoes" at the space station...but instead of being filled with explosives (which would make sense), each one instead has several soldiers stored within so they can have troops on the ground inside the base.

Fortunately, each torpedo crashes through a window (which doesn't flood all of the air out into space), and none simply bounce off a wall and spin off into the void of space, dooming the people inside.

Zarth Arn's fleet arrives and we get shots of ships from each side exploding as well a a few torpedoes being shot out of the ai- out of space?  Anyway.

The whole fight makes very little sense, with unlimited numbers of troops on one side being killed while unlimited troops on the other side also get killed.  However, at some point it appears Zarth Arn has successfully held off the invasion of his station and calls for his people to launch the "doom weapon" at the Emperor's home planet.

Back on the imperial battleship, it appears (again) that all hope is lost...but there is still one chance left to stop Zarth Arn.  As Christopher Plummer puts it, the only thing left is "Starcrash."

So what is Starcrash?

Well, here's what I can make out:

"Fourth dimensional attack!"

"Yes!  If we can re-enter space at the exact moment, the impact of surprise will be so overwhelming that he cannot halt us!"

So, in other words, I don't know, you don't know, and the actors don't know, either.  I suspect it's the space version of jumping out from behind a rock and shouting "BOO!"

So what could they use as a weapon?  Why, how about an entire floating city?

So their plan is...crash an entire floating city into a space station?

I take back everything I said about this movie being silly, it has once again wandered back into awesome territory.

Stellar plans on flying the city into the station and evacuating at the last minute.  Hasselhoff tries to argue with her that he should go, too, but she points out that she needs him to save her after she gets clear.  But she isn't going alone, though.  It turns out the Emperor's scientists have been hard at work on something...


WHOO!  Elle's back!

And no, you aren't seeing things, Stellar Star's outfit is once again donning the duct tape breastplate over a red body stocking, but at least she had the foresight to wear a sheer black cape with it this time.  Oh, and she stole Wonder Woman's bracelets.

Actual quote from the movie in a conversation between Elle and Stellar:

"It's so nice to be turned on again."

"And how."

That's all I've got.  You can fill in the rest yourself.

Meanwhile, on the Satellite of Love, Mike and the bots-

Whoops, sorry.


I mean, on the Amazing Technicolor Dream Floating City, Stellar and Elle climb into the "pilot's chamber" and guide the floating city out of orbit from whatever it's in orbit around (the movie doesn't say...the sun, I guess?)

The city approaches the station (wait, what happened to fourth dimensional attack?), and Zarth Arn doesn't handle the news of it approaching well.  He orders it destroyed, but his soldiers tell him "it's impossible, it's too close!"

I guess his station can't be thrown into reverse or anything to back away from it.

Zarth Arn's fighters head out to attack the city, and I love that Stellar actually says "we need to avoid them!"

You're piloting a FLOATING CITY.  That's like saying your aircraft carrier can perform a bootlegger reverse to dodge a swarm of wasps.

Fortunately, the floating city is also equipped with a ton of lasers, so the fighters aren't really much of a threat.

Stellar and Elle abandon city (by literally jumping out an open window), and as the city plows into the station, Zarth Arn can only shake his fists in rage at the sky and shout...something unintelligible.   It's still less silly than Darth Vader's "NOOOOOOOOO!"

You know, I'm pretty sure that'll put the kibosh on anybody else who thinks of having an uprising against the Emperor.  "Well, sure, we can try to usurp rule...but you heard about what happened to the last guy, right?  He had a CITY thrown at him!"

Stellar and Elle float through space until Hasselhoff swings by to pick them up, and Elle once again gets the best moment.  As Hasselhoff and Stellar look into each other's eyes and say each other's names over and over again, Elle stands slightly between them looking back and forth like "Huh? What?  Huh?  Ooohhhhhh."


We get a brief monologue from the Emperor who tells us that the stars are safe, but one day evil will rise again, and so on, because of the wheel of life or something.

The Good:

The music in this movie is amazing.  John Barry could easily have phoned this score in (based on the opening DVD title music, it sounded like he DID literally just push buttons on a phone to make the music), but while it's not quite up to Star Wars, it is incredibly impressive.  Where prop ships and silly lasers fail to make things intense, the music draws you in and holds on to you.  It wound up coloring my view of several scenes that, without the music, I would've scoffed at as silly.

Elle, of course, is the best character of the movie, and whoever dubbed his voice loved every minute of his job.  There isn't a single moment where you can't tell that the actor doesn't have a smile on his face as he reads his dialogue with his biggest Texan swagger.

The movie manages to cram quite a bit in for 90 minutes, involving multiple planets, giant monsters, a huge space battle, and cavemen.  I was actually surprised by Thor's betrayal, but I think that's because he was shoved into the background so many times I forgot he wasn't just a piece of furniture.  To his credit, Hasselhoff actually does seem like he's acting like this is a serious role and that he needs to prove he's worth the paycheck.

The Bad:

What a waste of Christopher Plummer.

I mean, granted, if anybody was going to have a spaceship that could stop time, it'd likely be him, but still, the man is completely underutilized here.

The special effects are hokey, naturally, but even cheesy special effects can look decent with enough care and time spent on making them look right.  The sets look like they were salvaged from other movies and cobbled together with twine and chewing gum, and for the most part the costuming is ludicrous beyond what Stellar wears.

Oh, and there's Acton.  I get wanting to have a powerful alien with magical powers in your movie.  After all, you already have one clear alien (Thor) and a talking robot, so why not another alien?  But still, you can't just have him pull his powers out of thin air and expect us to take it at all seriously.  "Oh, by the way, I can now bench press a Buick, take blaster bolts to the chest without blinking, and when I die I turn into energy.  Oh, and I see the future, so I knew you were going to be thrown in prison and dressed like a dominatrix on a budget."

Also...I'm still trying to figure out what "starcrash" is.  I know what the crash was, but- ooooh, I get it, the city crashed because it was piloted by Stellar Star.  ...why they'd have a name specifically for that, I have no idea.

Overall:

Now...I'm torn about whether or not Stellar Star is a positive role model for women.  On the one hand, her outfits scream "no."  Yet, if you look at Star Wars, you had Princess Leia stuck in a chain mail bikini for part of one film.  Stellar does need to be rescued a few times, but she is the one who pilots an entire floating city into the evildoer's base at the end.  She never really gets pushed along by the plot except for when the Emperor starts making decrees, but instead is willing to handle things herself.  She breaks herself out of prison, she's the one who leads Acton, the God Who Walks Like A Man, and while she isn't great in single combat, she does hold her own in a few scenes, including kicking the butts of a bunch of Amazons.

want to say she's a positive role model, considering Star Trek and Star Wars don't really have much in the way of female role models (Leia gets captured four times, the aforementioned bikini, Padme lets her life be decided by Anakin, Uhura was pretty cool in the original series but underused because of societal issues, Janeway was just awful, Troi was overly emotional and fell down a lot...) but I think that's going to have to be a final decision for someone else to make.

She does look pretty great in that final outfit, though.

The movie is dumb, dumb, dumb, but still a lot of fun.  Every time you start to lose interest, they do something crazy like introduce a giant robot with breasts or David Hasselhoff.  I recommend it to anybody who just enjoys goofy science fiction.



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