I first saw Starchaser in 3D back in 1985 and for someone who grew up on the Star Wars trilogy I was hooked for life. A beautiful, heady mix of science-fiction, fantasy and all out action laced with humour, a little violence and excellent set-pieces Starchaser is lovingly assembled from the finest sources and has more love for it's source than the three prequels helmed by Lucas have shown. The story is straightforward: thousands of slaves mine crystals for robot overseers believing this to be the will of their God, Zygon. A young slave named Orin (superbly voiced by Joe Colligan) finds a glowing sword hilt buried in the mines that tells him of the forbidden world above and in an attempt to break free is taken under wing of surly smuggler Dagg Dibrimi.
Taking it's influence from Star Wars, whispering it's name with reverent pride, layering it with images and influences as diverse as Moebius, the cartoons of René Laloux and Ralph Bakshi's Wizards it's hard not to like this movie. It's well-animated, beautifully shot and surprisingly well written which is all the more remarkable given that it's an animated feature.
In almost any combination this would have been a lacklustre, disappointing affair along the lines of Titan A.E but under the direction of Steven Hahn it's becomes something much more special. Look at the credits and you'll see cast and crew steeped in sci-fi: Stargate: SG1's Carmen Argenziano as Dagg Dibrimi, Han Solo with the attitude of J.Jonah Jameson; Masters of the Universe star Anthony DeLongis' providing the silver-tongued menace of Zygon in the vein of an early Vincent Price are the two voice highlights among a near perfect cast. More sci-fi stars are found in the background, ranging from the voice stars of Transformers and DS9 to story-boarder Boyd Kirkland, who would later go onto direct Batman: The Animated Series' greatest episode 'The Grey Ghost'. Even after 20 years Belling's music holds up remarkably well, as much an integral character of the film as Les Tremayne's marvellously cowardly ship's computer. It kicks in at all the right places, has good strong recognisable themes for the main stars and above all doesn't overpower the movie or sound like one of John William's increasingly derivative scores. And unlike many animated features it doesn't feel the need to bolster the score with some contemporary rock or pop tracks, preferring a well-crafted mix of orchestral and synthesized soundtrack.
Watched 20 years on it's still as enjoyable. It doesn't run on for too long, still has that pleasing if eccentric aesthetic style prevalent throughout the film and above all is fun. It has a story to tell, does it with style and above all manages to make you care for the characters which is a rare enough thing in a live-action movie, and for an 80's animated feature something very much to be proud of.
Starchaser hasn't been commercially available for years aside from a VHS release some 15 or 16 years back but it has a strong and loyal fan base who'll welcome the fact it's finally been released my MGM on DVD. As an animated feature it still has a certain charm two decades on even without the 3D but where it really holds it's own is it's love for Star Wars. Anybody who felt disappointed by the three prequels and prefers the honest, simple storytelling style of the original will enjoy Starchaser.