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|Index||85 reviews in total|
I first saw this around 84/85 when it was put on to replace the cricket that
had been cancelled. show you what channel 4 must have been thinking about
it at the time.
saying that, it's cheese, on toast, with extra cheese, bad acting, dodgy effects, and yes, a valkyrie with big breasts, (to match the hero's ship no doubt) some wierd guys in white, and a nutter who tries other people's arms on for size.
but i can't not watch it if it's on. one of those films i guess which no-one wants to say is good, but which they'll watch over and over.
now, where's that DVD then.....
Fun, fast moving, and with good one-dimensional heroes (like the movie it
obviously owes a lot to, Star Wars), this one takes a different Kurosawa
story (Seven Samurai) and does a pretty good sci-fi version of the concept.
I thought it was as good if not better than the Magnificent Seven. The
stars have real B-movie credentials, too, headed up by the obiquitous Saxon
as a darth-vader substitute par excellence. Peppard shines in a great bit
as a stoned out space cowboy, and Vaughan appears and is effective as the
mercenary member of the group. The guy who played the young hero was also
very good, I thought. Too bad he never became a big star, because he seems
like a pretty good actor.
Anyway, this film represents the best of what Corman is capable of: taking a good, but somewhat stodgy, concept (like space opera a la Buck Rodgers or Star Wars) and adds elements of exploitation (sadistic violence, semi-nude dancers) to make it more lively and entertaining.
When I first saw this in theatres I was under the impression that you could do a good space opera with a mega budget. How wrong I was! Here is a film that manages to overcome it's budget limitations with good writing, direction, performances, music and art direction. Part of the fun is looking over the cast and credits and seeing where they have gone since, another facet of the Roger Corman legacy.
I'll try and summarize this terrible, yet good, movie briefly.
Seven Samurai in Space. Memorable moments such as a spaceship with tits and Sybil Danning with even bigger tits. She was always lying on her back a lot, too.....
Robert Vaughan playing an identical character to his role in The Magnificent Seven. John Saxon hamming it up as Sador, the villain. Some guy in a lizard suit. Some guys in white suits. A couple of midgets/kids in silver suits that look like escapees from a kid's road safety advert. George Peppard playing Hannibal the cowboy.
Lots of special effects, most of which were re-used so often in subsequent films/series that they must have paid for themselves. Oh yeah, and the ultimate in unbelievability....John Boy Walton as the main lead/hero. That's like getting Lindsey Lohan to lecture on why drinking to excess is a bad idea.
So bad, it's good.
I liked this, despite the sub-par effects. It had a good STAR WARS-like story. The characters were likeable and the script was decent. So, if you can put a side lame effects, then you should see this. Better than I thought it would be.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Plot; A ruthless tyrant threatens to destroy a peaceful planet unless
they submit to him. With no army to resist the threat, a young man is
sent out among the stars to recruit mercenaries to their cause.
The name Roger Corman conjures up images of low-budget B-movies, and that's certainly the case with 1980's Battle Beyond the Stars. The difference here is in the soon to be megastar talent behind the scenes. When the original special f/x guy was fired, Corman promoted a little known model maker named James Cameron to the job. You may have heard of him. The score was composed by a guy named James Horner. His second feature film score. Together with an occasionally witty script by John Sayles (The Howling, Eight Men Out) and a cast of seasoned used-to-bes (sounds so much better than has beens, doesn't it?) like Robert Vaughn, George Peppard and John Saxon, BBTS is a fun, jaunty little space opera that's essentially The Magnificent Seven in space (the planet in jeopardy is even called Akir, and its people the Akira to put a fine point on the Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai connection). Not high art, but worth a revisit for 80s kids and for any fan of the genre.
Although i am not the biggest fan of Roger Corman even i have some
films of his i like...Piranha is one....and this is the other,
"Battle Beyond the Stars"is a classic nineteen eighties cheese-fest and a quite brilliant "Star Wars" rip-off.
Not only did he get a fine cast together(Richard Thomas,John Saxon,Robert Vaughn,Sybil Danning and George Peppard)he also got a then un-known film score composer to score the film....the name of the composer?....the late and sadly missed James Horner. This might have been his film first film score but it's a real cracker.
In short....cheesy?Yes Fun?you bet!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remembered seeing "Battle" as a youngish fellow when it first came
out, but I didn't remember anything about it except the odd ship
designs and that it was basically OK for cheaply made escapist space
opera with Star Wars "inspired" themes. I couldn't even remember the
exact title for many years - "Oh, yeah, that Roger Corman space opera
that was better than it deserved to be, what was the title, I remember
kind of liking it."
I finally confirmed the title a while back and found I could watch it for free on YouTube, so I did,just to see how it held up.
Way more derivative than I remember. Lots of lines that fall flat and lots of scenes that don't work or go anywhere. The Corman "get it finished and get it out the door" feel is all over it. On the plus side, the special effects were, um, enjoyably cheesy, and the music aped John Williams successfully without seeming too much of a rip- off. (Not criticizing James Horner here - he went on to do some great things.)
However the sound design for the space battles was really stupid. Laser blasts should not remind me of quacking ducks, that's all I'm saying.
I'd also forgotten that there was some talent lined up for this movie, almost enough to elevate it a notch. But Peppard and Vaughn walked through their parts on autopilot, Saxon had no idea how to play a super-villain, and John Thomas as the Luke Skywalker stand- in, was hopelessly bland. At least they never had him pull out a light-saber analogue or "use the Force", although they did have him dress all in white, just like what's-his-name.
For all its Corman-derived 2nd-rate shenanigans, though, it was decent, managing to wrap itself in the good-will generated by Star Wars - A New Hope. I got the sub-text,"Man, we LOVED Star Wars, and we wanted to play it ourselves." Well, who doesn't?
It kind of pains me to give this movie such a low rating. You might be
thinking 'but wait, that's not exactly too low, is it, like it's not a
"Bad" rating, right?' I was quite hopeful for Battle Beyond the Stars,
however, from some of the scuttlebutt that I'd heard over the years,
its cult status and how Roger Corman wanted to make a Magnificent Seven
in space (or Seven Samurai if you want to be more cineastey about it)
and, naturally, following on the coattails of Star Wars (and Alien to a
smaller extent, which itself was made thanks to Star Wars), with a cast
that included John Saxon and George Pappard, and art direction by none
other than James Cameron(!) Oh boy I was hoping for some world class
awesome cheese (maybe a so-bad-it's-spectacular) experience. And at the
end I discovered it's ultimately... OK. That's it.
Actually, that's not all true - Cameron's art direction, whether that was work on the ships (which do look like they had some money for them, albeit one of the ships looks like a cross between the one dude's head from the Cantina in Star Wars, you know the one, and with a pair of boobs on the bottom as so many have noted), or on the sets (which are standard but eye-catching), is wonderful, and I did really enjoy just the look of the film as far as it being "retro" in 2016.
It's impossible to see this being made today with this technology, since everything still had to be built from the ships to the sets to the costumes (that woman's awesome silver crown-headpiece-whatever) and the explosions and planets and so on, but the charm comes from seeing everything moving at the same speed and tech as a Star Wars did in 77 but with slightly less budget. And James Horner delivers a pretty good score - not great, but pretty good. And Peppard as the 'Cowboy' is my favorite part of the film, with his scotch belt (yes, a belt that makes scotch, eat your heart out Ron Burgundy), and his demeanor of kind of seeming to be half drunk most of the time, if not fully blitzed. He's having the time of his life and it shows.
But the rest of the movie is just dull, at least for me. It does have some oddly not even subtextual but textual sexual stuff to it, lots of talk about impregnation (though we never see it as this is PG so, hey, not in front of the kids unless it's a spaceship or some massive cleavage at one point), and with certain talk in scenes and how Richard Thomas looks and talks at Darlane Fluegel's Nanelia, and that is kind of campy and interesting and fun. The rest of the time we're seeing a cast, including also, sadly, John Saxon, performing a lot of dialog (by John Sayles of all the friggin people! that is leaden and serious and, except maybe for Cowboy, not much fun. It's largely perfunctory, plot-driven, and when it tries too hard for comedy like the voice of the ship our hero pilots (Lynn Carlin as Nell sounding like an old Jewish mother), it's ridiculous but not in a clever way.
Who knows, maybe I needed a much different environment to see it, like with a full theater crowd at the Alamo Drafthouse and with some good booze and good cheer (I watched it with friends but that didn't change much of the mood of 'Ok but so what?') It's also hard to not notice in nearly every moment that it's taking wholesale from Magnificent Seven (or maybe by 3rd degree Seven Samurai), and yet by it being in space and with so many strange yet cold creatures, like those fully white guys with the eyes on their foreheads, it mostly lacks the personality and warmth of those previous genre films.
In other words, it's cheese but it's almost like cheese that's been left out too long and has lost its punch; the same year Flash Gordon also came out which is a much better example, to me, of how to do this sort of campy-crappy space epic adventure serial stuff. While it has the look initially (and at times with the characters and fx) of something extraordinary, it's really far from it.
While the budget of this Roger Corman production is greater than his
usual, it it still far less than a big-time sci-fi production of the
era. For example, if you watch any of the three original "Star Wars"
films, they are light years ahead of "Battle Beyond the Stars" when it
comes to special effects. Clearly, it cannot keep up with these
top-notch movies. But, if you accept that its effects are a bit cheesy
and this doesn't bother you, the film is surprisingly enjoyable.
Richard Thomas stars as an alien living on a very peaceful planet. They are so peaceful when an intergalactic baddie threatens to destroy them, his people don't have the first idea about how to fight back and protect themselves. So, he goes on a mission to hire fighters who will protect them....and he comes up with a rag-tag group of heroes. Can these assorted heroes somehow fight back against this baddie and ignore, at least temporarily, Sybil Danning and her ever-present and very noticeable cleavage?!
The film offers quite a few B-list actors--a surprising number. In fact, apparently that is where they spent most of the money for the film hiring the likes of George Peppard, Robert Vaughn and the like. Overall, this is probably a film more for kids and die-hard sci-fi fans but it's reasonably entertaining and offers a few interesting characters.
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