Starflight One (1983)

STARFLIGHT ONE (1983)
aka Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land
TV-Movie
Article 3304 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-15-2010
Posting Date: 8-31-2010
Directed by Jerry Jameson
Featuring Lee Majors, Hal Linden, Lauren Hutton
Country: USA
What it is: Cross between MAROONED and the AIRPORT movies

A new experimental plane which uses rockets to bring it the highest levels of the stratosphere is launched on its first flight. When it is forced to fly above debris from an aborted rocket, a malfunction causes the plane to use all of its fuel and ends up leaving the earth’s atmosphere. It is stranded in space without fuel, short of oxygen, in need of repair, and unable to reenter the earth’s atmosphere without blowing up. Can they be saved?

If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was a two-hour commercial for the space shuttle Columbia; it’s used so many times in the rescue effort that it pretty much becomes the hero of the story. It’s also the movie’s greatest failing; the movie uses it so often, always with a relaunch from Earth, that it loses all credibility after a while. There are some nice moments here; I like some of the acting and certain details stand out; for example, I like the touch that the passengers who pass through the space tunnel between the plane and the shuttle do so in their stocking feet so as not to damage the tunnel. But it’s also slow-moving, mired by disaster-movie style cliches, implausible, and has plenty of dead spots. My favorite performance is from Pat Corley, who plays an electrician terrified of flying who is recruited to do some last minute repairs. It’s not awful, but it is more than a little dull.

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