Monday, February 18, 2013

StarCrossed (1985) - FilmReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

"Once your presence is acknowledged, can you imagine how difficult it will be?"

Starring James Spader (Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Stargate) and Australian actress Belinda Bauer (not the British crime writer!), this is one of those movies you will see little about on the Net, sadly. Perhaps it is the Made-for-TV label, but Starcrossed had such an impact on this reviewer that, all these years later, it was time to revisit the story and see whether it still flowed with the magic I remembered...

Written and directed by Jeffrey Bloom (produced by Robert Lovenheim), we find a young woman fleeing from two strangers. "Mary" (Bauer) is to be captured, dead or alive. However her encounter with mechanic Joey Callaghan (Spader) brings fortune, for he makes it his mission to protect her. Though low budget in nature, this little gem of a sci-fi tale holds wonders and delights; the main performances are simply touching, Joey's interest and reaction to "Mary" so genuine that it is easy to imagine yourself taking her into your heart, too.

If you don't know Bauer, perhaps you might have seen her in Robocop 2 (1990) or Airwolf: The Movie (1984)? She also appeared in the 1983 romantic drama Flashdance.

Periodically we are introduced to twin brothers Ed and Roland Groenenberg, who play the two leather-clad alien mercenaries whose task it is to capture "Mary". Though non-speaking parts, they do manage to convey enough alien-menace to make their scenes work. Filming locations took place in Ontario, Canada.

It really is a shame that this film doesn't receive the recognition it deserves and is yet to be commercially released on DVD or Blu-ray. Just out of interest, "Starcrossed" is a phrase that describes a pair of lovers whose relationship often faces outside interference, and that is precisely what happens here, with both alien and Human intervention...

We discover that "Mary" is on the run, escaping her world following an invasion. But, as the movie progresses, she yearns to return and teach her people to repel the deadly invaders. However, the subtlety of the plot allows for character interaction and development - something that is rare for a sci-fi film these days, which adheres to over-the-top CGI and action sequences than pure plot and character focus. Belinda Bauer is perfect as the beautiful alien female who trusts her new-found Human friend (Spader) without suspicion; the people on her world have evolved into a non-hostile society of tolerance and acceptance.

Interestingly, this film has much in common with Starman, another 1980s sci-fi feature, though the latter had a far larger budget and is instantly recognizable.

Sometimes you revisit a fond memory, only to discover that time has lessened its value. I am grateful, however, that Starcrossed remains a firm favorite, even after all these years. There is much to admire. Yes, the movie is cheesy, and the spacecraft at the end of the feature might not win awards for design, but overall there is enough to enjoy.

I also adore the two simple scenes in which "Mary" must prove herself as an alien, firstly to Joey as her telekinetic abilities are used to manipulate pool balls (yes, really) and later to Dr. Hobbes (Jacqueline Brookes), this time telepathy allowing her to "read" playing cards, her back to both Hobbes and the cards on the table.

The 1980s gave us some of the best out-of-this world special effect films (E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and though Starcrossed isn't one of them, it still manages to deliver a well-crafted and heartfelt story...