Yes, Starflight One, which was originally called Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land when it premiered as an ABC Sunday Night Movie on February 27, 1983, has an extremely high Fromage Factor. The title was changed when it was released in theatres in other countries perhaps to protect those associated with the production. The Plane That Couldn’t Land seems appropriate as it’s much like listening to your grandmother tell you a long story that has no point and you finally reach the boiling point and scream, “For the love of God, Grandma, land the plane!”
I don’t think I need to specify “Spoiler Alert”. This film spoiled about 39 years ago.
Thornwell Aviation has much invested in the new hypersonic airplane that will fly from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia in two hours. Mr. Thornwell (Ray Milland) has much invested in the highly publicized maiden voyage and thus ignores the concerns of the designer Josh Gilliam (Hal Linden). Though Josh is concerned the night before the big flight, he says, “Oh well,” goes home with his wife, and returns the next day to board the flight. Oh, that Josh. He just throws caution to the wind.
The next day Thornwell’s media relation representative Erica Hansen (Lauren Hutton) has everything well in hand, including pilot Cody Briggs (Lee Majors) with whom she is having an affair. Erica will also be on the flight with her daughter (Heather McAdam) because there is always a child on the plane. There are always bad guys on the plane as well. In this case. it’s Terry Kiser, six years before Bernie died, and Phil Coccoioletti, who would wait for the sequel to hook up with Bernie as Cartel Man #1. The standard old woman is played by Jocelyn Brando (Yes, Marlon’s sister) and since they forgot to put a sick person on the plane, they opt for the deceased Australian ambassador and his grieving wife. Joe Pedowski (Pat Corley), the electrical engineer for Thornwell, who worked on Starflight One is also on the plane because he might come in handy. Yes, George Kennedy’s character in the Airport movies was Joe Patroni, but I can assure you that the similarity is a coincidence. A coincidence I tell you. We have all the characters we need to copy every airplane disaster movie ever made, so let’s get this baby in the air!
I’m not going to spend a lot of time telling you how the plane ends up in orbit because that would just ruin it for you. As if I could make it worse. The plane is stuck in space because it’s not equipped to handle re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, and of course, we’re running out of oxygen. Luckily, everyone stays unusually calm. Almost as if they don’t understand the seriousness of the situation, or lack the acting ability to display that much range. Nonetheless, it is determined that they need to get Josh back to Earth so that he can figure out how to get everyone else down. Communication is working fine between Starflight One and Earth, but apparently Josh thinks better down on Earth. NASA launches a space shuttle to come up and get Josh.
Now, let me pause here for a moment. I’m going to tell you how they got Josh to the shuttle from, and you are not going to believe me. So, this will serve as a solid reason to watch Starflight One. I read Ron’s review, didn’t believe it, and watched Starflight One to see if it was true. You are welcome, Code Red, the company that released Starflight One on Blu-ray March 15. I got people to watch the movie!
And now, back to our review. When we last saw the stranded passengers and crew of Starflight One, they were trapped in a plane orbiting the Earth, with no way to get home. They are running out of oxygen and there only hope is to get Josh on the space shuttle so that he can fly to safety and figure out how to get everyone else home. The plan they come up with to get Josh to the shuttle is to wrap him in an airline blanket. You know, one of those really thick airline blankets that you can see through. Then they put him in the coffin, after taking out the body of the Australian Ambassador, because leaving the ambassador in there would be stupid, and then float the coffin over to the shuttle with the help of the astronauts. Makes complete sense. Well, Josh lives, gets most of the people down, and Cody walks off into the sunset with Erica, while the rest of us wait patiently for Starflight Two.
Thinking I left some details out? Of course, I did. I don’t want to be the only one who watched this movie.
Recommendation: Starflight One earns Ron’s Rejection. The new release contains no bonus material. All we get is a weak story full of stale performances. Lauren Hutton is clearly doing all she can to interject some energy into this cheese fest, but with little success. Everyone else just seems to be walking through it. Starflight One certainly has potential for drinking games. I don’t normally advocate such things, but this film drove me to it. Take a drink every time you see something that either makes no sense or is impossible.
Starflight One is a terrible movie but at least the special effects are bad.