“There’s no silliness preceding tonight’s picture, Star Knight. There is only me, Sidoh. Minion felt it best if I see this movie because I, too, am a stranger in this world. I am shinigami, a soul reaper, from another dimension and often watch this world and all the strange things humans do. I am also immortal (for the most part), and easily bored, hence the reason I actually agreed to stop in and do this (and because she promised chocolate). Minion assures me that as an alien element in this world, I will relate to the film in ways ordinary humans might not. But enough from me. Minion is about to press play and I haven’t even studied my chocolate box map yet…”
I think that if I weren’t in the habit of paying more attention to religious symbolism these days, my opinion of this movie might be completely different. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s still complete and total crap, but the premise is interesting enough to justify wasting an hour plus watching it. I honestly can’t think of another movie featuring an alien landing his vessel on medieval Earth and having to deal with superstitions, religion, and weird chivalry traditions. Small wonder he has trouble adjusting.
Funny start to it (and funny throughout, but not always intentionally) – an alchemist type is working a spell of some kind to ask an angel (or possibly demon) to bring him the secret to eternal life. In a complete and total coincidence, the alien chooses that moment to fly his ship over the area looking for a spot to land so he can study local wildlife.
Here he is collecting a goat via tractor beam. Of course, this being medieval Europe, aliens are not the first assumption here, God and/or the devil is. And it’s far likelier to be the devil for this lot because they’ve never seen a flying vessel light up in any way before and therefore assume it’s some evil dragon out to steal their sheep, women and children.
They’re not completely wrong. The alien gets a great chance to snatch Alba, the local Count’s daughter. He returns her soon after but her vacant expression leads the friar/adviser to insist she’s been defiled by demonic influences. The Count ignores him and asks his quack of a healer/alchemist/magician to have a look at her. A trip down hypnosis lane reveals her captor to be a sexy alien of the Orlando Bloom as Legolas variety.
She came back madly in love and desperate to see him again and the quack is desperate to see him for another reason; the visitor might be “Lord of all Names” and possess the secret to eternal life. Turns out he does have something useful and gives the quack a glowing orb. It’s a 1985 flash drive that can apparently read minds because it knows just what recipe to show the quack when he’s back in his mad lab later.
Harvey Keitel is in this, by the way. He plays the would-be knight errant who is also in love with Alba and prays to god on a regular basis begging for the chance to show her how much he loves her. Maybe he can slay that dragon…
Meanwhile, the alien visits Alba at home and they have a telepathic chitchat in the garden. He speaks in chimes only Alba understands but she doesn’t understand much – like when the conversation turns to why he can’t remove his space suit or helmet. Turns out Earth’s atmosphere is toxic to him. She refuses to believe such a thing could be possible (yet she can literally swallow transubstantiation on a daily basis without choking on the insanity of that concept). Keitel runs into them just as Alba’s told the alien she doesn’t want him to hug her with his gloves on. Keitel jumps to the only conclusion available and tries to defend her honour. Keitel and his guards are completely incapable of stopping the escape, however, and the alien flies Alba to his hideout near her castle.
Once inside his ship, she sees images of every type of animal in the area. She thinks he’s somehow trapped their spirits, as if he was some futuristic Noah prepping a high-tech ark. She gets stuck on the whole “your air will kill me” argument again and can’t believe a being from the sky would have any weaknesses whatsoever. Oxygen is his kryptonite, sweetheart. Learn to deal.
The Count can’t deal very well with what’s going on. His adviser is whispering rumours of witches and demons and devilry in his ears, trying to turn him against the quack, but the Count wants the elixir the quack’s been preparing more than he wants to punish the quack for any wrongdoing. Who wouldn’t want to be young again with all the old wisdom? He’d rather blame Keitel and his clumsy merry men. And blame his adviser for not protecting his castle from all the evil spirits and “diabolical beings out there” in the first place.
Keitel is on the friar’s side and when everyone heads for the quack’s lab to destroy his work, the quack manages to save a vial of the potion before it spills everywhere. After that, Keitel and the adviser pore through the notes to see what they can learn about beating the devilish dragon the quack supposedly called down.
Keitel thinks he’s on some holy mission by this point so when he arrives at the ship, he feels he’s got God on his side in the battle for the girl. The alien seems unwilling to joust with the newly named knight which annoys her to no end. She wants him to fight for her. Then, “God will decide with whom I ought to stay,” she says. But it’s no good. She ditches him and and joins Keitel outside instead. Keitel assumes the alien’s refusal to fight stems from cowardice and it seems like Keitel has won when the ship suddenly takes off for parts unknown. “This victory was made possible because of your love and my faith in god…” he says.
But, not so fast. The alien must have wanted a better vantage point by which to find a horse to steal because he soon comes back fully equipped to do battle and it’s game on, lances up, butts out of saddles, and roughhousing in the dirt like Kirk fighting Gorn, only slightly better choreographed.
And since we know the helmet is all that keeps that alien from sucking air, what’s Keitel going to do besides try to rip it off? But pushing and pulling at the suit doesn’t release the helmet. What happens instead is Keitel clicks some button and the alien’s suit teleports itself onto him. No idea what happened to Keitel’s armour in the process, but for some reason it didn’t land on the sexy, naked, and soon-to-be-dead alien.
Keitel and the friar adviser bugger off toward the ship, leaving Alba and the quack alone with the alien body and the quack realizes that the only thing he can do now is give what’s left of the potion to the alien man Alba loves. This works to revive him, of course, and he and she ride triumphantly into the village.
But what of Keitel and the Friar? Initially I thought, if the alien can’t breathe our air, that means his breathing apparatus is set for home, so Keitel should have been dead within minutes of getting the suit. That it didn’t kill him must mean the suit is smart enough to sense what the body in it requires and adjust its atmo feeds. Yeah, you can tell I’m a bit of a sci-fi buff here. Anyway, the suit might be smart, but the ship doesn’t appear to notice or care that the alien hasn’t boarded it and sets off for home anyway.
Keitel seems to take his fate like a man. “I was just trying to get somewhere in the world,” he says as they orbit the planet. The friar seems to take his fate like a friar – wondering just how to explain to the new folks who the Virgin Mary is and how to encourage taxes and tithes.
To conclude this rather long account, all I’ll say is it’s too bad Harvey Keitel agreed to do this. Comical clumsiness and pratfalls seem too lowbrow for him. Seeing him flounder around in a metal suit with wings on his head was a depressing experience. I can only imagine how it felt for him to do it and get paid to say “forsooth” and “yea verily” every five minutes. But I guess that’s a lesson for any aspiring actors out there. You hope it’s not the only role you’ll ever have, but if you want a paycheque, you may have to play in a terrible show to earn one, like the cast of She Freak did, up for viewing tomorrow.