It's not just a matter of alien-ness. There are other non-Star-Wars styles I'm familiar with, like, and will tend to imitate. Obvious one: the colorful pop style of Gerry Anderson. Which reminds me, I could say that Japanese SF seems to have taken Derek Meddings rather than John Dykstra as the FX designer to imitate for decades -- look at Sentai, a lot of mecha series... and that's probably why I often think "Something's missing."
Why I tend to drift away from Star Wars style: It de-emphasizes coherent functional design. I was first thinking about this when looking at Star Trek visual design. More precisely, Next Generation/etc Federation technology, the only field in which they developed a coherent design language. Everything seen on the outside of a starship, for example, had a reason for being on the outside -- no 'greebles'. Star Wars designs are pure art first, with any technical features put in after the fact. Look at the Incredible Cross-Sections books: the internal systems differ from one ship to another with little reasoning behind them.
Anderson style goes further, emphasizing functional components that actually do things on screen. Mecha anime in general seem to take this as their inspiration.
So given my technical mindset, how can I capture any of the fun of Star Wars visuals?