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  • When I saw this film during it's first airing back in 1983, at the age of 14, I thought it was a good movie. It had one of my favorite actors, Lee, the Six-Million Dollar Man, Majors in it. My generation also grew up on disaster films and this movie carried on the torch. Actually it is probably one of the last of the 70'ish type disaster movies. The plot, IMO, closely resembled that of AIRPORT-77, only this plane was stranded in space instead of underwater in the ocean.

    I, especially now as an adult, can see why people may dislike this film. Although this film is supposed to be realistic it is about as realistic as and child's fairy tale. You know what, I don't care. I still enjoy this film. I don't watch a film like this for the real life science and technology. I watch it for fun and take the science and technology about as seriously as I do that of a Star Trek film or show.

    Chezzy films may not be for everyone but for those that don't mind a little cheese this film will probably be worth viewing, at least once.
  • The earlier reviewer who said that Starflight (or as my video copy is titled, Starflight One) should have been called Airport '83 hit the nail on the head. This is very much an Airport style disaster movie, albeit one with pretty decent effects (for a TV movie from 1983!) and a very original storyline. Its not great by any stretch of the imagination, but I found it to be a diverting way to spend 2 hours, and that is all I asked from it. I liked Lee Majors, and Hal Linden, but the rest of the cast was lacking. Dykstra's effects are very good for the most part, and I really enjoyed his model work and motion control shots -- very nice especially considering they were crafted for the small screen. If you like Airport and its sequels (as I do), then this hard to find TV movie is worth checking out.
  • I'll admit it: I used to love this movie as a kid. But that was when I thought anything was possible. Now that I'm older (and have seen the Airport Movies), I realize just how bad this movie really was.

    First, it should have been called Airport '83, since it has a nearly identical plot to the rest of the Airport series (especially The Concorde: Airport '79, where technical malfunctions screw up the Concorde).

    Second is the truly abominable acting. Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man himself, stars as the plane's captain, who is married but shacking up with the head stewardess (Lauren Hutton, which explains why she is given a first-class seat out of the plane at the end). Hal Linden plays the designer and head engineer of Starflight One, who seems very uncomfortable in his role. The rest of the cast was too terrible to mention as their parts didn't even get off the ground, so to speak.

    Third are the obvious mistakes, scientific errors, and plot holes that are large enough to fly a Star Destroyer through. For example: -Starflight was equipped with a flange that allowed an airlock to be fitted over it. But if it was never designed to operate in a vacuum (like outer space), why have it there in the first place? -Captain Briggs mentions that everything still worked, including the engines. If the engines worked, and they were in a decaying orbit, why not just transfer to a higher orbit? -In this movie, NASA service techs seem to be recruited from NASCAR, since they are able to service and launch the Space Shuttle Columbia several times in two days (which is physically impossible, and why didn't that second shuttle help out sooner?). -It was mentioned that Starflight was not built with a heat shield. Bt at the speeds that it was designed to operate at, kinetic heating and friction would necessitate SOME kind of protective layer on the aircraft.

    -How come we never see the blonde female astronaut's face? -Starflight uses scramjets to provide thrust, but these engines cannot operate from a stand-still as they are shown to do; they must be in motion before they can operate. -An aircraft that is designed to operate at Mach 6 and higher speeds would not likely have such huge wings in proportion to its body, or even be spindle shaped; in fact, its actual design would most likely be a lifting body.

    And now for the good stuff: why I liked this movie. John Dykstra, who came up with the ships for Star Wars and Firefox, was the one who designed Starflight One; the plane, while not believable, still looks very good. Also, Lalo Schifferin's score was very good and dramatic. In all, about a 6 out of 10.
  • This might have been made in 1983 but it carries the smell of a leftover of the 70s disaster film genre and their many TV knockoffs (director Jerry Jameson being responsible among other things for "Airport 77") with the long litany of big names in the cast and cliche filled subplots. Indeed, "Starflight" is really just a reworking of the 1977 TV-movie "SST: Disaster In The Sky" when you get down to it only this time we have the silly wrinkle of a hypersonic plane getting forced into orbit somehow by accident. There then follows the hilarious implausibility of a single space shuttle that is somehow able to be launched at a moment's notice, then land and relaunch within a couple hours (it actually takes days to get a shuttle hooked up to a new external tank and rocket boosters and then get rolled out to the launch pad). And then get a load of this: Pilot Lee Majors is insistent that the entire crew stay aboard to the end, stewardesses included, but oops, when it comes to the stewardess that he's shacking up with (Lauren Hutton) he makes darn certain that she alone among the crew gets a privileged pass off the ship before the moment of danger comes in re-entry! Guess the moral of the story is if you want to avoid the danger of possible death, make certain you're sleeping around with the people in authority.

    And by the way "Goulash" from Bombay, if you're a real person who really loved this movie that much, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.....
  • OK I agree that the Australian accent is a bit overdone, but remember, this was filmed in 1982 and Australians were depicted that way for years, until the Mel's and Hugh's and Nicole's came to prominence. O.K. I forgot Bryan Brown! The real Aussie Icon! I was fortunate enough to see the full-length version of this TV Movie, which runs to 138 minutes, on our local station NBN 3 before it became a mirror image of Sydney station TCN Nine. The video release from Roadshow years ago has a great cover, however the print is around 100 minutes. What a great cast. Our hero Lee Majors, the gorgeous Lauren Hutton, Tess Harper, always dependable Ray Milland, Robert Webber and Hal Linden. The full-length version should be released in a nice remastered DVD... So take a step back in time to the early 80s when we still had reliable familiar faces that graced our screens and enjoy it already!
  • When I saw this premier on TV I had high hopes that Dykstra would unleash his miniature wizardry on a made for TV movie. I mean, afterall, Star Wars? Star Trek? Battlestar Galactica SFX credits? We all had high hopes. Then the movie aired.

    Well, to be honest, I don't recall much other than thinking that this was an extension of the Airport Franchise, only the first Airport film at least had some dramatic teeth in it. The subsequent sequels, even one with George Kennedy at the controls of a Concorde, seemed to get ever moreso dreary. Well, Starflight is no different, but, some, and I do emphasize SOME of the FX are decent enough.

    The truth of the matter is that as per a previous reviewer, kids were savvy enough to know that planes couldn't reach suborbital velocities with the technology as it was explained. Heck, I think even reasonably educated adults probably had a few "huh" moments going for them as the drama unfolded.

    The shooting style, the acting, the cast, the music, even launching the space shuttle, I could give all of that a pass, even seeing Lee Majors in this thing. But, when they put in the "one thing" that would save them, that's when I finally changed the channel. I think this film aired once more that same year late at night, or the following year during the summer, but, to the best of my knowledge, it never saw the light of day again.

    If you're bored, need some airborne disaster action on your TV or computer monitor, then maybe give this thing a single viewing, but don't say I didn't warn you.
  • The production values for this made for TV movie (but shown in cinemas in some countries) are not bad. The story is credible too even if a little far fetched in places but there is much fun to be had from this film.

    Like a logical extension of the 'Airport' series of films, this fits into the 'disaster' genre, plus it has its requisite fill of stars (although most of them are either faded movie stars or faces from television). As the legendary John Dykstra was responsible for the visual effects they are a cut above what is usual for a TV movie so despite some of the negative criticisms on this site, it is obvious an effort has been made on it's visual aesthetic despite the budgetary limitations. In fact I think some of the sets may have been borrowed from other productions to utilise the limited budget.

    The film is rarely shown on TV these days as it's quite entertaining and original for its time. It is certainly more fun to watch than many bigger budget made for cinema films of the disaster genre made a few years before. If you bear that in mind and try not to find too much fault looking at it from a 21st century point of view I think you may enjoy it.
  • In fact I think this was a KTMA episode. But one scene that stands out in my mind indelibly is the one where Hal Linden's character is spirited off Starflight by sticking him in the coffin that was transporting the Australian ambassador to the US back home for burial or some such, and the body is stiff as a board (or a mannequin) after being removed from the casket and floats around the cargo hold wearing the pointiest shoes I've ever seen . Somehow I don't think a casket is airtight enough to survive the rigors of spaceflight!
  • "Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land" is a silly made-for-TV disaster flick that could have been titled "Airport '83: Trapped in Space". While the film is modestly entertaining at times, it's just too preposterous to believe. The plot: a hypersonic jet takes off for Australia and ends up stuck in outer space by accident. Director Jerry Jameson fared better with "Airport '77", and the cast (Lee Majors, Hal Linden, Lauren Hutton, Tess Harper, Ray Milland, etc.) have done better work than this. Not a real bad movie but not a real good one either. This movie originally aired as a three hour movie on TV; the home video version was edited by about 30-40 minutes and retitled "Starflight One".

    ** (out of four)
  • My problem is with the sets. Very little attention to detail except for maybe the cockpit. The headquarters in Palmdale, home of the Space Shuttle and many other famous aircraft looks like a lounge in a Holiday Inn. And the high tech equipment used for operating this supersonic aircraft? A collection of Radio Shack multi-meters in "test" mode. The Nasa control room was equally pathetic. Instead of a big Mission Control "theater" we've all seen in movies and documentaries, they shot those scenes at a simple air traffic control facility with standard radar screens. Come on, didn't Nasa offer any advice? Heck, there's a real Mission Control room right there at JPL in Pasadena. No, it looks like they wasted all their money on big name stars. Many do the best they can with script they were given.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie has a few exciting moments, but for the most part, it's just another Airport redux. For me, it was hard to get past its unfaithfulness to science, to reality, and in the case of the characters, each other.

    Every time they re-launched the space shuttle to go and rescue the stranded passengers, I just rolled my eyes and how implausible that whole thing was...especially when they launched it the third time, just two hours after the second mission had landed.

    The happily-ever-after scene at the end is of the pilot joyously embracing his stewardess mistress, while his wife drives away alone. That's supposed to make us feel all warm and fuzzy?
  • This made for tv movie may appear to boast some huge talent and big names but don't get caught up in all that. There is one thing hidden within this lesser known gem which elevates it to awesome status. Kirk Cocka Doodle Doodly Sexypants Cameron, that's who. Oh Kirk. I want to use your head as a brillo pad and clean my frying pan with it. You are the national treasure of the 80's and 90's and as far as the 2000's go..... seriously, what has Jason Bateman done lately? Nothing compared to our sweet, curly haired golden boy. Oh Kirk. Oh Kirk. Oh Kirk. If I could just fold you up like a paper angel or snowflake and put you in my back pants pocket and carry you around. Some people wear jeans. Some people wear khakis. Some people wear sweat pants. I would be rocking the Seavers!!!
  • Both manned space flight and routine intercontinental air travel have occurred within the last one hundred years of our history. And as the success of the space shuttle program from 1981 to 2011 shows us, it is not entirely out of the possibility that in some of our own lifetimes, routine sub-orbital flight of the hypersonic variety might occur as well. But as with any technology of this kind, there are always dangers. This is the premise of the made-for-TV science fiction/air disaster movie STARFLIGHT ONE, which first aired on ABC-TV on February 27, 1983 under the title STARFLIGHT: THE PLANE THAT COULDN'T LAND.

    The premise of what some might call an extension of the AIRPORT films of the 1970s is that of a hypersonic aircraft, capable not only of breaking the sound barrier (like the Concorde, which was unfortunately grounded in 2000), but of also reaching very high into the atmosphere to sub-orbital heights. Tests conducted on the craft's rockets, which propel it to the heights necessary for trans-global travel, however, prove unsatisfactory to the craft's designer (Hal Linden), but the head (Ray Milland) of the aerospace firm that built Starflight insists on it launching on time for its maiden voyage from Palmdale International Airport, in the desert north of Los Angeles, to Sydney, Australia. The craft, captained by Lee Majors, with help from his fellow crewmen (Michael Sachs; Gary Bayer), initially operates as it should; but an illegal rocket launch from Australia, in which the rocket self-destructs, scatters debris in the path of the plane; and when a piece of debris penetrates the part of the craft where the rocket connections are, Starflight soars much higher than it was ever intended to go. And once the rockets burn out, the craft and its sixty passengers find themselves stranded in zero gravity at a height of 87.5 miles above the ground, and just slightly above the lid of Earth's atmosphere. In effect, they are trapped in space.

    Attempts to get Starflight One's passengers off are fraught with peril; and several of them do perish. Linden, however, who was also onboard and who knows what the plane can do, manages to get back down to the ground to assist in efforts being coordinated with NASA and their space shuttle Columbia to get fuel back into the aircraft and get it down before its orbit decays, and to allow for repairs on the damaged rocket cables. The one problem is that, because Starflight wasn't designed for space flight, it doesn't have a heat shield to protect it; thus, the possibility of both the craft and its crew being incinerated is extremely real, and one remaining trump card must be played.

    In essence, STARFLIGHT ONE combines the basic structure of the AIRPORT films (including 1977's AIRPORT '77, which this film's director Jerry Jameson also helmed), combined with the scenario of the 1969 big-screen sci-fi melodrama MAROONED, in which three astronauts find themselves stranded in their spacecraft high above the Earth when the craft's retro-rockets refuse to work properly. The movie has the usual disaster film line-up of stars for this, including Robert Webber, Gail Strickland, George DiCenzo, Terry Kiser, Pat Corley, Peter Jason, and Stephen Keep; but for the most part, the usual soap opera sub-plots are kept to a bare minimum. Admittedly, not all of the scenarios used are completely believable (for one, it would still be nearly impossible to even use all four shuttles, let alone Columbia, to effect that kind of a rescue), and not all the special effects are as convincing as they should be (most notably a long tunnel used in one rescue operation that looks like a rubber vacuum hose). Otherwise, however, they are quite good, which probably shouldn't be so surprising, given as they were supervised by John Dykstra, who worked on STAR WARS and STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, along with Terry Frazee, who worked on "1941", RAID ON ENTEBBE, and BLADE RUNNER, along with Gene Warren as a special consultant.

    With its various attendant flaws and its obvious made-for-TV origins (it was released theatrically overseas), no one's going to put this film in masterpiece status by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, for what it is, STARFLIGHT ONE nevertheless has enough stuff to recommend it, especially given that hypersonic and sub-orbital passenger flights are slowly but surely approaching the day when they will become real. As this film amply demonstrates, and as the tragedies of Challenger, Columbia, and Apollo 204 demonstrated in real life, there are also inherent risks in this kind of technological ambition as well.
  • Now, this is a movie so full of scientific impossibilities that must have been clear to sixthgraders even in the eighties, that I wonder if they spent one buck on aviation or spaceflight advisors.

    As for the story: Same old thing: some people with more or less problems together in an extreme situation in limited space, facing the possibility of death closing in.... Seen that over and over...

    Now, it would have been hard to make it worse...
  • kerndtsr12 April 2010
    It took me a few minutes into the movie to realize I had seen it before when I was in high-school. Even though it had Barney Miller and Lauren "whistle while you work because of the gap between your teeth" Hutton in it I watched it again anyway. They sure can get that space shuttle in and out of space quickly, cant' they? They must of had an Indy 500 crew working for them! Plus they can take off from L.A. too! what a deal! Now the ironic and sad part. At one point the crew of the plane asks the Columbia crew to take a peek and see if there was any damage to their aircraft. So the (the Starflight crew) knew they got hit, NASA knew they got hit, so isn't it great to have another set of eyes (the Columbia crew) to actually see the damage everyone assumed was there in the first place? So they can actually try to fix it, or figure out some other option to avoid a disaster. So why in the world didn't NASA have the REAL Columbia go to the International Space Station and have them see if they had a hole in their wing! The whole country saw the foam hit the wing. STUPID!!!
  • 11 April 2010. Perhaps its the advanced state of sci fi movies nowadays, but STARFLIGHT seemed to be a low-budget sci fi movie that tried but really couldn't land instead of crash. The overly ambitious and likely unreal use of the now infamous shuttle Challenger and the cheap special effects, and the effort to insert more human relational intimacy just didn't sell. This is no APOLLO 13 (1995) by a long shot. The entire movie wasn't either a AIRPORT (1970) production either. This predictable and overworn disaster plot with the outerspace twist just doesn't fly. While the plot, storyline, and dialogue were clear and straightforward, the movie felt unbalanced and forced.
  • This movie was by far the best sci fi movie I've ever seen. It was better than Star Wars and couldn't have been more delightful. This movie is a must see for any true movie buff.

    10 STARS **********
  • Made-for-TV hokum, in the tradition of the fun Airport films, with an "all-star" cast playing the usual group of strangers with soap opera issues who board a fancy new rocket-powered hypersonic plane on its maiden flight. All hell breaks loose and the plane is knocked into space! NASA comes to the rescue. Really dumb and never as much fun as you would hope. It's actually pretty dull, which is unforgivable given the absurd premise that begs to be mocked. Cast includes Lee Majors, Lauren Hutton, Ray Milland, Hal Linden, Tess Harper, Heather McAdam, Terry Kiser, and Phil from Murphy Brown. Robert Englund has a bit part. John Dykstra's special effects are good, particularly by TV standards. That's about the best thing I can say about this. I wish it was more fun.
  • You will find parts of this movie, little segments of it, embarrassingly funny. When I first saw it in 84, it was engrossing. When watching it back I 2003, I just found it pretty pathetic, and felt a schmuck for watching back in the eighties. But they were very cheesy and dark times. The same goes for those Airport films, me and Dad ribtickling ourselves over them. What we've got here is a fictional, what if scenario, about a hyposonic airplane, a Concorde shuttle that can make the distance from Los Angeles to Sydney in two hours. In no way is a two second exterior shot of Sydney airport, Sydney airport. What cheek. We have a good cast here too, notably Linden and Majors, one of many few films he did. While in the air, a rocket has exploded sending hulks of a metal careering towards the super cool airplane. Forced to rear up, drastically, they caught in orbit, for which there is no way to return. I remember in olden days, this got incredibly tense. And when the plane set down again, a relief came over me, although a score of passengers got lost in one of those shutes that blew up. But you just take Starflight One for what is it, a guilty cheesy, eighties pleasure, for the whole family, with unintentional laughs here and there.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers herein.

    There was a time when the universal symbol of technology was the locomotive. Then, odd as it may sound today, it was the large steamship. And for a brief period in our history it was the space shuttle.

    All of these passed from their iconic status after stupendous accidents. I write this shortly after the US president (Bush) tried to weasel out of some political problems by proposing a bold mission to Mars. The American people yawned.

    This project is dreary in every respect. But it has two interesting elements. The first is that it evokes that brief period when were awed by this machine. It is doubly odd because when brand new it used only thirty year old technology as a matter of mitigating risk.

    The other thing is the score by Schifin. It is equally dated, a mixture of horns and bongo drums.

    Ted's Evaluation: 1 of 3 -- You can probably find something better to do with your time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I know, 9 seems very high in light of the fact that this is a low budget catastrophe movie from the 80s, but i had so much fun watching it(multiple times), so it's am earned number.

    As you know, the movie is about a new commercial plane with a rocket engine as secondary propulsion system. There is an accident with a carrier rocket in Australia, and the plane ends up in orbit around earth, which it isn't build for.

    Let me just point out the things i like about the movie. Hal Linden as Josh is great. He is a very believable character. Pat Corley, as Joe, the journalists technician is also a good casting member. The rest is meh at best.

    The point is, that this movies has very good music, a lot of scenes with real suspense and in addition the rescue attempts, while not 100% realistic, are innovative, and fun to watch. Also there are a lot of good jokes in this movie. Josh is great, Joe too, and Joshs wife is also a strong character.

    The thing that a lot of reviewers seemingly miss, are the messages in this movie. There is greed, witch leads to this catastrophe in the first place, cold number-crunching on one side, and the value of human live on the other. Also the notion never to give up is a big part of this movie. One thing, that can't be overstated is, that these people keep their calms. They don't scream all the time, they don't behave like children, and they don't behave like animals in fear. While this may not be realistic, it is nerve soothing to say the least. Most catastrophe movies are full with it, making them hard to watch, screeching on my nerves like fingernails on a blackboard. This is not the case here. The passengers don't sabotage their own rescue by behaving stupid. At least most of the time.

    Lets just say the movie never gets boring, and if you can overlook the wooden performances of Lee Majors and Sandra Hutton, than you can expect a fun movie with lots of suspension

    I urge you to find this movie, and have a great time watching it.