Battle Beyond The Stars (Blu-Ray)
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Twenty-first-century science fiction fans accustomed to special-effects orgies like The Matrix may snigger at the quaint, Flash Gordon-like spaceships in Battle Beyond the Stars. But executive producer Roger Corman's belated entry into the '70s sci-fi craze surpasses expectations with sharp performances and a witty script by John Sayles (his third for Corman, including 1978's Piranha). The story, lifted wholesale from Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954), finds the dictator Sador (John Saxon) threatening the planet of Akira. Its pacifist inhabitants are no match for Sador's devastating weapon, the Stellar Converter, but young Shad (Richard Thomas) decides to fight back. Borrowing the ship of notorious mercenary Zed the Corsair, he recruits a band of mercenaries, each of whom has a personal reason to join the fight. Among them are a lizard-like humanoid (Morgan Woodward), an improbable space cowboy (George Peppard), a zaftig female warrior (Sybil Danning), and brooding killer-for-hire Gelt (Robert Vaughn, reprising his Magnificent Seven role). Battle's final showdown is somewhat anticlimatic, but the surprisingly stellar cast (which includes Sam Jaffe and Darlanne Fluegel) and the indie spunk of Sayles' script, with its light meditations on death and honor, will charm newcomers and repeat audiences alike. New Concorde's digitally remastered DVD features commentary by Sayles and Terminator 2 producer Gale Anne Hurd, Battle's assistant production manager. Oh, and those spaceships? Designed by Titanic director James Cameron. Still laughing? --Paul Gaita --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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What's most enjoyable about the film is the fact that every mercenary hired by the peaceful "villagers" has a distinct personality and style and their intentions clearly defined. George Peppard( as the only human among them) is laid back and charming. Morgan Woodward seems to be having a grand old time playing the vengeful lizard-man (dig his gonzo war-cry during the climactic battle!) Robert Vaughn does seem a bit bored but he effectively communicates his character's unpleasant coldness. Sybill Danning simply has one of the most stunning bodies to ever be stuffed into a styrofoam viking costume, even if she can't act. Add to these characters 2 elfin aliens who communicate thru heat( the Kelvin, wink, wink) and a troupe of what looks like Mimes( called "Nestor") who operate sort of like to the collectivist Borg from Star Trek and in disposition seem to anticipate the infectious optimism and curiosity of Mr Data as well; when first introduced they explain, " We believe you are seeking mercenaries for an adventure. We would like to participate." The costumes, sets and spfx are obviously done on a very low budget but that hardly detracts from the fun. Special mention must be made of John Saxon who, as the evil scourge of the galaxy Lord Sador, grabs his opportunity to chew the scenery with amusing gusto; Check the sequence where he gets to enact what must be every actors dream since DR STRANGELOVE: to have a battle with his own rebellious arm! He plays it all-out, with just the right notes of sadism and menacing humor.Read more ›
This was one [heck] of a smart script. No surprise, since the writer is John Sayles, a screenwriter of impeccable literary sense. The dialogue of this film crackles better than most big-budget films I've seen, and as a result Darlanne Fluegel (as innocent maiden Nanelia), Robert Vaughn (ice-cool mercenary Gelt), Sybil Danning (who steals the show as dashing, comically busty Valkyr warrior Saint-Exmin), Earl Boen (as lead drone Nestor) and George Peppard (as Space Cowboy) all shine, having a field day with the incredibly brisk pace and economical character interactions. And there's great comic material here, which is like an amplification of the gently sardonic tone of Seven Samurai, the obvious ancestor of this film.
The richness of Sayles' conception of this world just draws you in -- even more so, I would argue, than Star Wars, because the depth of the philosophical implications behind the details is phenomenal. The "Facets" of Nestor, the on-the-run nihilism of Gelt the mercenary, and the communicative dilemma of the Kelvin -- it all points to very real human needs and psychological desires, hidden behind the comic-book action and tongue-in-cheek tone. Revel, as well, in the amount of attention paid to the design: Talking spaceship "Nell" is in the shape of a giant woman's body; the stingray menace of Gelt's ship; the different kinds of "hum" that each character's vehicle produces. Shows what you can do even with little money if you put some thought into it.Read more ›
Battle Beyond the Stars was the biggest-budgeted movie Corman had ever made up to that time, about 2 million dollars, and his money is up there on the screen, with good sets, good props, good special effects, and a good cast. In typical Corman fashion everything except the cast was used over and over again in other space sagas he made. Waste not, want not! is his credo, and he boasts that he's never lost a dime on any of his movies. I believe it.
The plot of this movie was stolen shamelessly from Akira Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai, so if you liked that Japanese epic and its American remake, The Magnificent Seven, you should like Battle Beyond the Stars, too. It just goes to show that if you have to steal a story, you might as well steal a great one!
The cast includes Richard Thomas, just out of his John-Boy of The Waltons role, as a poor man's Luke Skywalker recruiting mercenaries George Peppard, Robert Vaughn, Marta Kristen, and Sybil Danning, among others, to fight the evil conqueror Sador, played by John Saxon, always a good villain.
Never one to miss a trend, or start one, Corman cashed in on the phenomenal success of Star Wars with Battle Beyond the Stars. It's a fun film and I recommend this DVD widescreen edition. There's interesting commentaries by Gale Anne Hurd, John Sayles and Roger Corman, movie trailers, biographies, trivia game, scene index -- but the usual Corman filmography booklet is absent here.
Most recent customer reviews
Although I have the utmost respect for all involved on this film, it's nothing more than a cheap competitor riding on the tails of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Alien landmarks. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Johnny Rocker
This is the kind of movie that you want to have a bunch of friends over and watch together. You'll be yelling at the plot holes, laughing at the effects and enjoying a memorable... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Doc Kaos
I remember staying up late to watch this movie and it brought so many memories back, and i still love itPublished on June 3 2014 by Tom Trudeau
AKA john boy in space. This is a fun film. There are several good characters here. The film has a good pace and never gets boring. One of the best efforts from CormanPublished on May 24 2013 by Alan Brown
It was nice to see some famous people in their younger days. Need more boobs and fat chicks though. Nice...Published on May 20 2013 by MaxxOmega
Ok rant time again, this movie is a classic which I love and it deserves at least 3 and a half stars. Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2012 by Denis Lemay
when big stars get together an explosive time can be had and was no disappointment to me.this could have been a great series had it been wanted. Read morePublished on Aug. 16 2011 by fox
I don't know why they call this BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS when stars are clearly visible during the space battles...Published on July 27 2011 by LP Quagmire
Admittedly this is one of a slew of "Star Wars" knock-offs. So it is a historical piece. It is a nice B-Move, and one that you can give your kids who want to see the Matrix or... Read morePublished on May 2 2004 by Kendal B. Hunter