Tuesday, April 17, 2018

you have been recruited by the star league to defend the frontier against xur and the ko-dan armada

The thing is, despite some of what I said yesterday, it's a good thing that Alex's college plans are not too specific, that his goals are not too concrete. That the skillset that gets him recruited by aliens for a universe-saving adventure isn't that impressive.

Like Centauri's previous recruitment practice on Earth involving a sword called Excalibur. (Note, of course, that the Starfighter logo includes a sword with wings.) All one had to do was be chosen enough to pull it out of a stone and/or have some lady in a lake toss it to you. And, by the way, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Or from video games.

Alex's problems are deliberately pretty universal.

(And, really vague. I realize watching the early scenes again now, they don't even specify that it was a college loan that Alex didn't get. A Mr. Brenner brought the notice by the diner so Alex's mom could bring it home right away. This is not how college loans work. This is a loan from the local bank. Was Alex going to start a business?)

His lot in life ain't much, is the point. And we can all relate. Even if, relatively speaking, our lot is better than most, dissatisfaction is pretty fundamental to the human condition, especially in America.

He's got problems with his future, just like anybody. Doesn't matter what the future is, just that he wants out of his present.

Similarly, his girl is dealing with the same. Maggie (Catherine Mary Stuart) has her granny to take care of. Even Alex's little brother Louis (Chris Hebert) is basically dreaming of something far from home and his usual lot in life with those Playboys and "Yolanda, baby". I actually think it's interesting--and either a lazy bit of characterization or a brilliant one--that when Louis sees Alex and Maggie kissing, he says "Diarrhea," and looks away. If I'm Louis' age--and I'm just a bit over two years younger--and I see anybody kissing Catherine Mary Stuart outside, flesh and blood, I am watching that action.

But, maybe that's just me.

Anyway, little else to say about the film itself. Visual effects that were awesome at the time but don't hold up well; some wonderfully realized trailer park folks, mostly background players but feeling like real people; and a simple wish-fulfillment story that works in the universal, lacks in some of the specific. For eight-year-old me, it's a nice idea, like many an adventure story, young kid recruited to do something awesome. And, it's nice space story that isn't set in the future, because there ain't no future as far as I'm told in school and church.

Anyway, moving on to 1985.

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