BCI Eclipse // 1986 // 215 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 18th, 2007
You want to know why this guy is so awesome? He spells his name with two R's!
Another Filmation brainstorm from the mid-80s, this sci-fi/fantasy/Western mixes more genres than...something that mixes a lot of genres.
This set sports the feature-length film Bravestarr: The Legend on one disc and five episodes from the animated series and a selection of extras on the second. The film jumpstarts the universe, provides the backstory and launches the characters that would eventually see two years worth of work as Filmation's final cartoon series.
Here's the skinny: Bravestarr is an elite space marshal who lands on the planet of New Texas, which is rich in the most valuable substance in the galaxy: kerium. As such, the planet attracts colonists and villains and Bravestarr is needed to keep order, while imparting valuable life lessons to those he meets.
The starting lineup:
Courageous, chiseled and Native American (or the interstellar equivalent), Bravestarr was rescued by his spiritual guide Shaman when the duo's home-world was decimated by the evil Stampede. Bravestarr exerts his will with his catlike trigger reflexes and the ability to draw upon the power of various totems ("Power of a bear!" "Speed of a puma!"). He loves wearing bright yellow jumpsuits too. ("Stealth of a front-end loader!")
Bravestarr's second-in-command kick all kinds of ass. He's got the Battlecat duality thing going except in either form -- an armored cybernetic horse or a bipedal gunslinger -- the guy brings the pain. After Bravestarr dismounts, 30/30 stands upright, replaces his front hooves with hands and cradles a fearsome shotgun. Righteous!
The requisite female and Bravestarr's love interest, this provocative redhead trades her frilly pioneer garb for a form-fitting jumpsuit when the going gets tough. Bravestarr likes!
This hugely powerful villain -- a combination of Paul Bunyan's blue ox and Gamera -- makes a habit of ransacking planets and when he discovers the mother lode in New Texas, he pours out his malice powerful good.
Stampede's flunkie and all-around bad guy, Tex Hex is gifted with dark magic powers and a gang of yes men to wreak havoc on the New Texas frontier. Tex Hex is a member of the proud lineage of Prick Bad Guys in Filmation Cartoons.
It's difficult to look at the two pieces of this release separately, even though the feature film and series excerpts are cut from different cloths. Though the film boasts some flashier animations and more "adult" material (Bravestarr and J.B. engage in an amorous liplock), the general feel of the universe carries over into the television treatment. I like the mythology Filmation created, though the playbook is somewhat derivative of their past productions: a super-powered Boy Scout type teams with a buxom redhead and his snarling animal sidekick to throw down with a whiny, screaming bad guy and his quirky band of outlaws. Still, it's good fun and the Bravestarr film -- while having no business being released into a theater, demanding retail ticket prices -- boasts some great moments (punctuated by an entertaining final match-up between Bravestarr and Stampede that leads to some bodacious impaling!).
I don't know if Ink and Paint plan to release the full seasons, but this selection of "best of" episodes is tied together with a similar theme: morals. Each of the five episodes contains not-so-subtle lessons, ranging from coping with a disability (blindness in this case in "Eye of the Beholder") to disappointment with childhood role models ("Fallen Idol") and finally to the ravages of drug use ("The Price," where -- I kid you not -- a talking dingo gets all the kids hopped up on narcotics). The corniest installment is "Tex's Terrible Night," an episode that finds Tex Hex in the middle of an iffy remake of A Christmas Carol. Yeah, for just five episodes, give us more horse blasting shotguns and less villain flashbacks to ex-girlfriends.
Another sublime release from Ink and Paint, smothered in the love of Filmation's work. The gorgeous packaging gives way to a nice front end on each system, characterized by original artwork from the series. As is the case with this studio's DVD sets, the video quality is fantastic. The art is some of Filmation's best anyway and Ink and Paint have done an exceptional job bringing it to digital life; the coloring is vibrant and the animation is crisp.
Bravestarr: The Legend features a swell commentary track from Filmation honcho Lou Scheimer, director and animator Tom Sito, voice actor Pat Fraley, voice director Erick Scheimer and host Andy Mangels. Disc Two brings a nice documentary called "Saddling Up with Bravestarr: the Legend," an extended promotional clip for the series, some underwhelming live action rotoscoping modeling, an image gallery and the theatrical trailer.
While it may not shatter the Filmation mold, Bravestarr refines the studio's formula. Good characters, inventive storytelling and a great look make this show an obscure gem.
Not guilty, varmint.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BCI Eclipse
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 215 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Feature Commentary
* "Saddling Up with Bravestarr: The Legend" Documentary
* Promotional Presentation
* Rotoscoping Footage
* Image Gallery
* DVD-ROM Content