In the far future water is the most valuable substance. Two space pirates are captured, sold to a princess, and recruited to help her find her father who disappeared when he found ... See full summary »
Michael D. Roberts
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Shad, a young farmer, assembles a band of diverse mercenaries in outer space to defend his peaceful planet from the evil tyrant Sador and his armada of aggressors. Among the mercenaries are Space Cowboy, a spacegoing truck driver from Earth; Gelt, a wealthy but experienced assassin looking for a place to hide; and Saint-Exmin, a Valkyrie warrior looking to prove herself in battle. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
During Saint Exmin's final battle against Sador a crewmember can be seen on the left-side of the screen (over Sybil Danning's right shoulder). The crewman is visible during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cut to her during the battle. The crew person appears to be sitting just behind the wall immediately behind Sybil. See more »
[carrying a bag of ashes]
Our emissary has returned from Umateal. They have replied to our ultimatum.
[Yago hands over the bag, which Sador examines]
It is our emissary, sir. They have... powdered him.
[Sador throws the bag in a rage, just missing him]
They are a... proud... form!
In an hour, they'll be an EXTINCT one, not a trace of them left, not even their dust.
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Now this is interesting. The movie is another producer's spin on Star Wars; Star Wars obviously being made by George Lucas. The name 'George Lucas' being synonymous with 'epic-scale effects budget.' Battle Beyond the Stars was produced by Roger Corman. The name 'Roger Corman' being synonymous with 'shoe-string budget.'
Let me break from my usual critique style to go over some of the plot - Sador (John Saxon) feels the need to conquer, and he's so powerful that he decides to conquer an essentially helpless (not to mention useless) civilization. But instead of conquering, he courteously shows up to conveniently schedule his conquest a week from now in case they want to mount some sort of defense. (Where's Arnold when you need him? 'I'll be back!')
In response, Shad takes a road trip (space trip?) in Nell the only ship on the planet to round up some misfits (mercenaries--same thing) who happen to be in the neighborhood. Everyone is interestingly (clichély) unique and has their own reasons for wanting to fight, not to mention the actors have a wide range of performances ranging from sliced ham to frighteningly Shakespearian seriousness. And, ah to hell with it, you get the idea. Point is, I have every reason to really hate the plot, hate the characters (Good God, I've hated characters for much much less), hate this movie . . . but I dunno, I don't really mind it.
Through all its narrative faults, Battle Beyond the Stars happens to hit the right goofball mixture of elements from a surprisingly good score by young 'Jamie Horner' to notably weird spaceships and decent effects (for an early 80s low-budget flick) to wacky and tame characters that somehow summons a funky B-movie charm. For the life of me, I can't hate this movie despite the plot that begs me to bash it to oblivion with the Stellar Converter.
The spaceship, Nell, proved to be the highpoint of the film . . . not because of the ship's design, rather because of its personality (no really.)
I've always wanted to see a spaceship with an attitude (the Star Trek equivalent of Kit from Knight Rider?) A perfect counterpoint to the naivety of Shad, flawlessly delivered by Richard Thomas. If I weren't constantly laughing at the characters cluelessness, I'd want to slap that kid around, and I'd sure as hell wouldn't want to charge him with saving my planet. I'd like to die with my dignity, thank you.
Battle Beyond the Stars has a number of positive attributes (especially considering the budget and experience of most people involved on the film at the time), it has a number of reasons to be proud, and it most definitely has a number of charms that surpass its truckload of flaws. I consider Battle Beyond the Stars the spending benchmark for all sci-fi flicks. I mean, if Corman can entertain me with Hollywood pocket change, Lucas, the Wachowskis, and the other heavy spenders better blow my socks off with their ungodly sized budgets . . .
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