Director/Producer – Steven Hahn, Screenplay – Jeffrey Scott, Music – Andrew Belling, Animation Supervisor – Jang-Gil Kam & Mitch Rochon, Hardware Design – Thomas Warkentin, Background Design – Tim Callahan & Roy Allen Smith. Production Company – Youngblood International.
Joe Colligan (Orin), Carmen Argenziano (Dagg Debrini), Noelle North (Elan/Aviana), Anthony Delongis (Zygon), Tyke Caravelli (Silica), Les Tremayne (Arthur)
On the planet Trinia, humans slaves are kept in the vast Mineworld at the centre of the planet, herded by robot slaves and forced to dig crystals for the robot god Zygon. The young slave boy Orin unearths a sword hilt whereupon a vision of an elderly man appears, telling him that his people belong on the surface and that he, Orin, can lead them and free humanity from enslavement to the robots. Orin escapes to the surface where he befriends the smuggler Dagg Debrini and is thrown into a series of intergalactic adventures as he fights to bring down Zygon.
Starchaser: The Legend of Orin had the distinction of being the first animated feature made in 3D. At the time, this was something decidedly unusual and a feat not replicated until The Polar Express (2004) and then with tedious regularlity with almost every major animated film released in the latter half of the 00s.
Starchaser a likeable film but its reliance on Star Wars (1977) often becomes tiresome – the main characters consist of an innocent boy, a cynical worldwise pilot and a love interest who comes from an interstellar political background; the villain of the piece hides behind a metal mask; and the music is an outright copy of John Williams’s martial music. It is also amusing to note the number of images the film manages to connect its sword to – it is found buried in the rock (the Arthurian mythos) but also manages to produce a coherent beam of energy (Star Wars), as well as a Carrie Fisher-styled holographic messages begging for help. As with Star Wars, Starchaser often feels like a fantasy film that is using science-fiction iconography.
The surprise is that despite its familiarity Starchaser: The Legend of Orin works likeably enough. The action is exciting, even at times exhilarating, during the attempts to invade Zygon’s stronghold and steal the ore and at the end facing giant tractor beams and with entire fleets in orbit and ramming ships. The characters are well drawn – most amusing is the uptight fembot who is turned into a fawning bimbo robot after a small degree of reprogramming in her posterior.
At times, Starchaser is decidedly adult in tone, making jokes about homosexuality, enemas, and using terms like ‘sonofabitch’. The artwork is passable in quality, occasionally impressive in its backgrounds.
The animation was handled by a South Korean animation studio but the film ended up in a long production process with its budget ballooning to three times its original size due to the 3D process. When released, the film was not a box-office success and failed to recoup its costs. It is the only film directed by Steven Hahn.