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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Action > Fantasy > Adventure > Feature Film > TV > The Best Of BraveStarr (BCI Eclipse/Filmation/Animation/DVD)

The Best Of BraveStarr (BCI Eclipse/Filmation/Animation/DVD)


Picture: B- Sound: C Extras: B Episodes: B- Feature Film: B+



The Best of BraveStarr is the two disc set presentation of Filmation Studio's most ambitious and best produced series and film of the studio's history. BraveStarr The Legend (or BraveStarr The Movie as it is sometimes called) is a mix of science fiction and the Hollywood Horse Opera Western and blends them together beautifully to tell the story of a young Native-American becoming a hero on a far off planet that models itself after the American West of legend.


Disc One: "BraveStarr The Legend" (1988) tells the story of Marshall BraveStarr, who as a young boy is saved by Shaman, an ancient Indian mystic from their dying world. Shaman "sees" the potential that Bravestarr will have in the future and sends the young boy to the Marshall Academy for training, as he himself settles on New Texas, a lawless, desolate planet that looks like Tombstone. New Texas is rich in a powerful crystal called "Kerium", a ruby colored glass stone that can be used as fuel to fly a ship, or to be used as "bullets" for a gun. Because of this, the planet is over run with criminals looking to get rich by any means necessary. The worst of these outlaws is Tex Mex, a ruthless hombre who enslaves the planets inhabitants, The Prairie People, to mine the Kerium for him. The Prairie People, who look like a cross between trolls, the Jawas of "Star Wars" and moles, are little creatures that can borrow quickly underneath the ground, and regularly pop-up at the most in-opportune times.


After disposing of his partner, Tex Mex tries to make off with his ill-gotten booty, but the load of Kerium is too heavy, and causes Tex's ship to crash. The crash is witnessed by Stampede, a giant, mystical creature that is a cross between a dragon and a steer. Stampede transforms Tex Mex into a skeletal demon with mystic powers of his own. With his newly granted powers, Tex transforms a group of the planets outlaws into his demonic army called The Carrion Bunch and proceeds to wreck havoc on an already lawless planet, especially the town of Fort Kerium.


Having had enough of Tex Mex's attacks, the town's Mayor sends for a squad of marshalls to fight them and bring back law and order. What they get is Marshall Bravestarr who arrives with the town's new Judge, Bean, also called J.B. J.B. is a beautiful young woman who is the daughter of Tex Mex's ex-partner and can take care of herself in hand-to-hand combat. None of the town's people expect these two new arrivals to be what they are. The Mayor was expecting a squadron of marshals, not one lone young Indian. The town soon finds out that Marshall Bravestarr is more than he seems as he stops a group of outlaws. Soon after, Bravestarr meets Shaman who tells the young marshal of his origins and sends him on a quest for a great weapon, on which he will find out that he is the weapon himself.


On this quest BraveStarr meets Thirty/Thirty, a horse who can change into a human-like creature. Thirty/Thirty is an ornery critter; literally, as he starts a fight with BraveStarr over a rifle that the young marshal confuses to be the weapon that he was sent to find. Thirty/Thirty revels in the fight and comes to respect the young brave and agrees to join up with him, but not before getting in the last blow.


Also on this quest, BraveStarr discovers that he has the power to call upon the strengths of four animals: The sight of a hawk, the hearing of a wolf, the speed of a puma and the strength of a bear. BraveStarr himself learns that appearances can be deceiving when help comes from one of The Prairie People. One of the little creatures named Fuzz saves BraveStarr from one of Tex's attacks and he learns the value of these natives. As a reward, the young Marshall makes Fuzz a deputy. With the help of the "spirit animals", Shaman and his new found allies, BraveStarr is able to defeat Tex Mex and his gang and bring peace, law and justice to New Texas.


Others have tried to mix Sci-fi and Westerns in the past, and only other than The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (reviewed elsewhere on this site) has it been done so successfully. The town of Fort Kerium looks like Dry Gulch, Tombstone or The OK Corral, but it's metallic. The settlers and cowboys ride floating metallic steers called "mounts". The stagecoaches float along being pulled by the aforementioned mounts. The townspeople wear traditional western garb, but things like belt buckles, hat bands, spurs, etc., have a futuristic look. BraveStarr's sidearm appears magically on his hip when he his ready to draw his weapon. And in the film's climactic battle, there is a futuristic take on "circling the wagons".


I enjoyed this film immensely and it is definitely the best thing that Filmation has ever done. Even better than their great adaptation of Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon, also reviewed on this site. The art is the best I've ever seen on their productions that feature realistic humans. At times it reminded me of the art done for the animated film Heavy Metal. The production values are great and the special effects are well done. Listening to the film's commentary and watching the "Making Of" extra's, you can tell the enthusiasm the film makers had in producing this ambitious project, especially from Producer Joe Scheimer. Disc One's only extra is the film's commentary track. I usually don't care for these commentary voice-overs, but the artists, directors and producers dialogue is infectious and enjoyable.


Disc Two: Disc Two contains five entertaining episodes of the BraveStarr syndicated series that Filmation produced for television. Each episode is a morality play as the viewers learn at the end of the each show lessons in tolerance, acceptance, worshipping false idols, consequence, and in a very powerful episode, the dangers of drug abuse. The TV shows have the same production values as the film, but Filmation's infamous use (and reuse) of stock footage in the series is once again a part of it, but at least it is the beautiful footage of the film. These episodes are a lot of fun to watch. I missed this show when it originally aired in 1988, but this collection makes me hope that they will release the complete series on disc.


The 1.33 X 1 image on all programs look good for their age, but you will see some minor aliasing or detail problems on larger monitors. The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is simple stereo at best and weaker than expected all around. The film sounds a little different, but not much. Extras include The Making of Documentary, the promotional presentation of the film and series, the theatrical trailer, rare live-action footage that was used for rotoscoping and promotional art and model sheets. The hand-book that comes with the set includes a reproduction of the movie poster.



- Marc Greisinger


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