I wanted to love Star Runners. It has a lot of potential to be a wonderful, riotous good time. It obviously took its inspiration from Firefly/Serenity, Starship Troopers, and even a little The Fifth Element. Problem is it didn't run with the blatant ripoffs, and tried to pretend it had an original idea. That only works when you have an original idea. When someone can point at the screen and dissect the movie into categories based on what film it was ripping off, you don't have an original idea.
What frustrates the holy heck out of me is Star Runners could still have been saved. If they'd embraced the cheese factor (which was evident in the movies that obviously inspired it) and went for laughs, I would have been a happy camper. Instead the writers got all serious with political intrigue and character self-sacrifices and genocidal atrocities. Even that would have been alright if they'd not taken so much time to setup this up as a 'buddy' movie, promising a rollicking good time as the main characters get captured by the government, and then sent on a covert mission to retrieve a mysterious crate. Naturally they open the crate to find a frozen, naked, woman inside who wakes up with no memory. We've been introduced to a couple of interesting secondary characters in the middle of a space bar that is blatantly a pale ripoff of Star Wars' Mos Eisley. We should be in for a ton of fun as the trio of characters make a run for it.
Nope. It gets all serious after that with just a few one liners here and there to break up the monotony. And it is monotonous. We get a space pursuit through a wormhole into uncharted space, a crash landing, tiresome arguments among the survivors, a mysterious abandoned base that the survivors realize was populated by their kind, and then bugs. Lots of giant bugs. While interesting on the surface, as the movie progresses it's all 'by the numbers' and I kept checking how much time was left in the movie.
One thing that wasn't wrong with this movie was the acting talent. We have Connor Trinneer playing the would-be swashbuckling captain, Ty. He waffles between playing by the rules, breaking them as is convenient. He's charming and likable, which is good since he's the main character. Then we get a horribly wasted James Kyson Lee from Heroes fame. He's the sidekick, basically, and is portrayed as a smart guy, but with a few gaps in the common sense area. He's the funny guy who points out the obvious. There's also relative newcomers, Aja Evans and Toni Trucks. Aja Evans plays the tough girl who is stuck with our wayward gaggle of people after they crash land. She has more to her than meets the eye, and when we learn her real role, it's one of the few interesting twists in the whole affair. Toni Trucks plays the 'Leeloo'/'River' sort of character, the gal who was frozen, wakes up with no memory, but oh, she's really special, and not just because our heroes see her naked. Toni does alright with this character, but a better actress could have made her shine despite this script. The rest of the supporting cast at least add positives to this mess, but it's just not enough to save it for me. Not even my favorite bit actor, Todd Jensen, lifted my spirits enough to say 'Well, maybe it's not that bad...', because, well, it was that bad.
For a throwaway movie this is at least watchable, especially if you go into it knowing it's going to be a mish mosh of other movies you've watched, and probably loved. But when it's all over, you're going to feel a strong urge to watch some quality sci fi, maybe pulling out Star Wars or even Spaceballs, because Star Runners is a train wreck that will linger in your consciousness, and make you doubt that good sci fi ever existed.