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Roger Corman's MAGNIFICENT SEVEN in Space...
Ben Burgraff (cariart)25 October 2003
BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, Roger Corman's 'take' of the STAR WARS saga, is a film justly recognized as a cult classic. Shot in his new studio ("The paint was still wet," Corman has joked), in just five weeks, on a budget that would have paid for one of George Lucas' effects, the end result is proof that with the right talent, anything is possible!

A remarkable array of future industry giants participated in the creation of the film; the screenplay was co-written by John Sayles, whose breakthrough film as a maverick writer/director, RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS 7, would be released the same year...young model builder James Cameron impressed Corman so much that he was promoted to Art Director for the film, and it would be the first step in a career that led to TERMINATOR, ALIENS, and eventually, the most Oscar-honored film since BEN-HUR, TITANIC...James Horner, with only three prior film credits, gave Corman the STAR WARS-quality music he wanted, with an orchestra a fraction of the size of John Williams' London Philharmonic; Horner would eventually score two STAR TREK films, and a wide variety of other 'prestige' projects, culminating with two Oscars for TITANIC, and a place as one of America's finest film composers. BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS would have a 'look' and a 'sound' unlike any 'B'-movie ever made.

Based on Akira Kurosawa's THE SEVEN SAMURAI (which was also the source for the classic western, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN), Sayles tried to keep the film as faithful to the original as possible (a tiny, defenseless village hires warriors to defend them against a band of outlaws), even naming the beleaguered people the Akira, as a homage to the director. As warriors from different races ally to face down the nearly invincible forces of Sador (veteran actor John Saxon), Corman paid tribute to John Sturges' western, as well, casting Robert Vaughn in virtually the same role as he'd played in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Other terrific actors round out the cast; Richard Thomas, still appearing in 'The Waltons' at the time, played young Shad, the film's central character; George Peppard, who was about to achieve a MAJOR career resurgence with 'The A-Team', became boozy Earthman 'Cowboy'; 'B'-movie queen Sybil Danning portrayed Valkyrie-like Saint-Exmin; veteran TV and film 'tough guy' Morgan Woodward was wonderful, if unrecognizable as Cayman of the Lambda Zone; and Darlanne Fluegel, beginning a long career as a popular character actress, was cast as Shad's love, Nanelia. Corman then cast two long-time friends and Hollywood legends in cameo roles; Jeff Corey as blind Zed, who encourages the Akira to fight; and 89-year old Sam Jaffe as the robotics expert who introduces Shad to Nanelia.

A note about director Jimmy T. Murakami...a veteran animator, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS marked his directorial debut, and he does an exceptionally good job, considering his budget restraints. After working on HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, he married an Irish girl and settled in Europe, limiting his subsequent film career to an occasional project that interested him. Roger Corman's 'family' of filmmakers were NEVER dull...

While some of the FX are shaky, the overall production is very impressive, and holds up remarkably well, today. Roger Corman has called BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS one of his favorite films, and he has every right to be proud...the movie is a terrific SF adventure!
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When Battlefield Earth is released on video, watch it back to back with this film.
roarshock5 August 2000
I really enjoy these types of films. When they work it's because of their sheer flamboyance. They aren't afraid to steal from any source, EVERYTHING goes into the pot as long as it's got sparkle, splash, and action. This particular film works real well and I absolutely fell for it when I heard a phrase of music lifted directly from "Alexander Nevsky". It's pure, simple (repeat, simple) fun. The producers of "Battlefield Earth" could have learned something about making entertaining SF movies from repeated viewings of "Battle Beyond the Stars."
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Lotta bang for little bucks
jaywolfenstien12 October 2004
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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Seven Samurai in Space
Raegan Butcher16 July 2006
John Sayles was asked by Roger Corman to adapt The Seven Samurai into a sci fi picture and the result is this delightfully inventive tongue-in-cheek romp.

What is most enjoyable to me about the film is the fact that every mercenary hired by the peaceful "villagers" has a distinct personality and style and their motivations 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 two 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 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 quite striking though obviously done on a 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 mix of comic book theatrics and menacing humor. It is sometimes just enjoyable to watch veteran actors cut loose and have a good time, the spirit is infectious, as it certainly is with this film. Fun for the whole family as well as bonged-out college students and other usually disparaging types.
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As good now as it was then ... but was it good ?
mungflesh24 October 2011
Let's pretend we've never heard of Roger Corman nor The Magnificent Seven etc.

As a kid, that was me. I heard about this movie through my friends, when I was about 9 or 10. To us, this was another great space epic, along the lines of Star Wars. It had good effects, plenty of laser blasts and bad guy with a massive ship that could destroy planets. Awesome!

Many years later, I bought this on DVD and, to my pleasant surprise, found that it hadn't aged too badly. The low budget is very apparent but the movie is slickly edited such that it perhaps feels richer that it should. This is however it's biggest drawback because the character development is poor in places and the stars play second-fiddle to the ships and the costumes they inhabit. Gelt and Space Cowboy are perhaps the most fleshed-out of the pack, the remainder either being weak or there to make up the numbers.

The true star of the show is James Horner. It's a great score and all the best moments of Star Trek 2 are audible here first.

It's an inventive film, even if the invention is mainly facsimile, and an entertaining one. In the archives of sci-fi, there's no contest between this and its obvious "raison d'être" influence, as to which film is the better, but it's a noteworthy addition from the same era, what I consider to be the golden-age of special effects.
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Definitely an under-appreciated film
Mister-67 October 1998
Of all the post "Star Wars" films, this one is decidedly the best of its ilk. The dependable storyline, stalwart acting and sometimes humorous special effects (LOVE the female-designed spaceship!) all make for an entertaining film. For all the flak it has received (even getting a "Dog of the Week" label from Siskel and Ebert upon its initial release), it has for all intents and purposes kept itself in the memories of all who have seen it and is most definitely a fantasy that is worthy of seeing again and again.
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Star Wars clone? Yes, but cheesy sci-fi fun!
Katatonia11 August 2003
Battle Beyond The Stars was one of the better Star Wars clones. The special effects weren't "great" even back in 1980, but they add to the low budget flavor of the movie. You have to remember that this movie had a substantially lower budget for special effects than an "A" picture like Star Wars. Early detailed models by James Cameron (TERMINATOR/TITANIC) are the high point of the special effects. A lot of people got their career start on this film, and Cameron was only one of many.

The script for Battle Beyond The Stars had a lot of things going for it, from the aliens to the quirky characters. I found the race of Nestor to be the most interesting concept of all. Just the thought of a race of beings that can hear/feel/think together as one conscious entity could be a great movie plot in itself.

The excellent casting of actors and actresses was another strong point in Battle Beyond The Stars. John Saxon, George Peppard, and Sybil Danning especially shine through in their acting performances in my opinion.

Battle Beyond The Stars is, quite simply, one of those movies that's so cheesy that's it's something special. It's a fun movie that never takes itself too seriously, and I don't either. I guess that's why I still enjoy it after all of these years.
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Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven in Space
Claudio Carvalho28 October 2016
The evil tyrant Sador (John Saxon) and his army of the mutants Malmori threatens the peaceful Akira farmers of the planet Akir with his Stellar Converter weapon and tells that he will return to collect their harvest. The former Akira warrior Zed (Jeff Corey) advises that they should hire mercenaries to protect them from Sador and offers his spaceship to seek them out. However, the Akira can only pay with food and lodging. The young Shad (Richard Thomas) offers to pilot the ship with the computer Nell to look for mercenaries. He meets Dr. Hephaestus (Sam Jaffe) and his beautiful daughter Nanelia (Darlanne Fluegel) in a space station where he unsuccessfully tries to find weapon. Nanelia comes with Shad and he teams up with the earthling Cowboy (George Peppard), who was going to deliver weapons to a planet that was destroyed by Sador and offers to give them to Shad. Then he meets five clones that share the mind of one entity called Nestor that join him. Shad also recruits the lonely and wealthy assassin Gelt (Robert Vaughn) that accepts the proposed payment. Then the sexy and annoying Valkyrie warrior St. Exmin (Sybil Danning) joins the group since she wants to battle. Shad also recruits Cayman (Morgan Woodward) that wants to kill Sador and does not require any payment. They return to Akir and Sador also returns to attack the planet. Who will win the battle?

"Battle Beyond the Stars" is an enjoyable cult movie with a story based on "Seven Samurai" and its remake "The Magnificent Seven" but in space. Inclusive the Akira is a tribute to Akira Kurosawa. "Battle Beyond the Stars" reuses material from other films ("Space Raiders", "Starquest II", "Dead Space" and "Bachelor Party"); the acting is only reasonable; and the special effects, sets and costumes are poor. But who cares? My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Mercenários das Galáxias" ("Mercenaries of the Galaxies")
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Loads of fun to be had!
grendelkhan19 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
You know, for all of the cheapness of his films, Roger Corman can occasionally turn out a pretty entertaining film. This was one of them.

Back in the day, my friends and I clamored for anything remotely like Star Wars. Unfortunately, other than some quickly made knock-offs from Japan and Italy, there weren't many. Then, around 1980, I came across an article in Starlog about this movie. It looked interesting, although it was obviously inspired by The Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven; but, hey, Star Wars stole from Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress. I didn't get a chance to see the film in the theaters, but caught it later on cable. It was a pretty entertaining film, despite the cheesy scenes and hammy acting. Everybody seemed to be having fun and it didn't take itself too seriously.

Richard Thomas, fresh from The Waltons, takes to the stars to recruit mercenaries to save his agrarian world from invaders, led by John Saxon (sitting in for Eli Walach). He recruits a motley band of space cowboys (George Peppard), lizards, heat manipulating aliens, clonal telepaths, gunfighters (Robert Vaughn) and T & A valkyries (Sybil Danning). Together, this rag-tag band leads the peace-loving Akirans in battle against Sador.

The film is great fun, with good ship designs and exciting space battles (effects supervised by James Cameron). The script (by John Sayles) is good, with many in-jokes and light character moments. The effects, although not as good as ILM, are still eyecatching and work in service to the story. The actors play it straight, but with enough of a twinkle (with the leads making up for some of the really horrible secondary actors). The designs are interesting, especially Shad's ship-with-breasts and Saint-Exmin's costume, which has a decoration that looks like hands clutching her breasts! You can definitely tell that this was made predominantly by young males.

Corman is best known as a mentor to great filmmakers and this film features work by future big names John Sayles, James Cameron, Gail Ann Hurd, and music by James Horner.

Do yourself a favor, watch this and then compare with more recent films of the genre (i.e. Star Wars prequels) and see which has a greater sense of fun. It's no 2001: A Space Odyssey; but, then again, neither was Star Wars.
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Better than Star Wars
drmality-114 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Ignore the negative comments and the usual pathetic "cheesy" wisecracks. This movie has more heart and soul than "Star Wars" or any of the big budget space operas floating around at the same time. The characters are more memorable, the dialogue is better and there is nothing "fairytale" about the ending. A lot of the characters we wind up liking die in this one.

It's yet another update of the "Seven Samurai" story and just as effective in its milieu as "Magnificent Seven" was in its. A ghoulish galactic conqueror has targeted the peaceful planet Akir for his next attack. Sador and his band of mutants have access to a planet-destroying weapon. The pacifist Akiri have no skill or stomach for fighting except for a select few. Young Shad decides that if his people cannot fight, they will hire mercenaries to fight for them. Onboard a sentient spaceship with a crusty personality, Shad begins to assemble a ragtag collection of misfits. They include: Cowboy, an earthman transporting weapons who is obsessed with Western heroes and lifestyle.

Kayman of the Lambda Zone, a theatrical and sinister reptilian who has a score to settle with Sador. Kayman's own crew is pretty off the wall, as well.

Nestor, a collection of alien clones who share the same mind and sensations. Nestor joins the battle strictly out of boredom.

Gelt, the deadliest and most feared assassin in the galaxy, who joins Shad because he offers "a warm meal and a place to hide".

St. Exmin, a bodacious, oversexed Valkyrie who is spoiling for a fight to prove her mettle.

This is one of the coolest casts of characters ever assembled for an action film and I fell in love with all of them. The script of John Sayles really brings out the quirks and personality of the mercenaries. I loved it when one of the Nestors is captured by Sador and threatened with torture. "This is Dr. Dako," Sador tells the Nestor. "He is very expert in the art of administering pain." "It is good to have skills," deadpans Nestor.

Just as effecting but in a different way is Gelt's final scene, as his ice-cold demeanor cracks at last and he reflects on a friendless and wasted life. Robert Vaughn succeeds once again with basically the same character he played in "Magnificent Seven".

Even Sador and his Malmori mutants have personality. John Saxon has a ball playing an evil villain that was different from his usually heroic characters. His second in command comes across as strangely reluctant. Even the scummy mutants Kalo and Tembo are more than mere cannon fodder.

Other actors to watch for are Sam Jaffe as the half man/half machine/all crazy Dr. Hephaestus, Jeff Corey as the blind warrior Zed and Lost In Space's Marta Kristen as an Akiri woman who falls in love with Cowboy. Richard Thomas does very well as Shad...not an experienced fighter, but with enough fire to avoid being a wimp.

One does wish the effects budgets would have been better. The ship design and make-up is cool, but the space battles were not visually engaging and the sound effects that accompanied them really grated on my nerves.

The triumph of this movie, though, is in its characterization and in the nobility of sacrifice. There's nothing cheesy about that. This is pure entertainment and a little bit more.
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Enjoyably Cornball Seven Samurai In Outer Space Adventure
ShootingShark17 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The peaceful planet Akir is threatened by the evil warlord Sador. Having no army of their own, the people hire a strange group of mercenaries with varying agendas to help them. Can they prevail, and can they trust their new protectors ?

Cashing in on the Star Wars boom, this cheeky little movie is really more of a science-fiction remake of The Seven Samurai - the people are called the Akira, Vaughn reprises his role from The Magnificent Seven and whole scenes (such as the return to the empty village) are lifted straight from the Kurosawa film. It's a bit cheesy, to be sure, but it's fun and witty and hard not to enjoy. It was made by a bunch of talented young filmmakers at Roger Corman's New World Pictures company; Murakami went on to become a respected animation director; scriptwriter John Sayles is one of the most original directors currently working, composer James Horner is now one of Hollywood's best and many of the special effects crew have had prestigious careers. Its other gift is its mixed cast of bright young things and likable old has-beens. Everybody is good, but I particularly like Peppard's aw-shucks cowboy, Saxon's cartoon villain and the eye-popping Danning's Valkyrie warrior woman. If you have an aversion to B-movies this is probably not the film for you, but I happen to be very fond of them and this one is terrific. Put it on a double-bill with Reds, and I can guarantee you which film you'll enjoy more.
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A delightfully spirited and good-natured early 80's sci-fi action/adventure treat
Woodyanders14 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Roger Corman's highly energetic and enjoyable handy dandy combo blend of "Star Wars" and "The Magnificent Seven" has lost none of its charm or entertainment value over the years. The film still radiates a certain irresistibly sweet and dynamic good-natured quality to this very day. Evil space conqueror Sador (John Saxon having himself a wonderfully wicked field day in a juicy villain part) threatens to kill all the peace-loving people on the planet of Akir unless they willingly submit to his foul desires. It's up to naive, but eager young emissary Shad (earnestly essayed with disarmingly wide-eyed aplomb by Richard Thomas of "The Waltons" fame) to round up seven mercenaries in order to fight back against Sador. Said mercenaries include the delectably busty'n'lusty Sybil Danning as a sexy Amazonian warrior woman, George Peppard as the hilariously booze-sodden Space Cowboy, Morgan Woodward as vengeful reptilian humanoid lizard Cayman, the lovely Darlanne Fluegel as the obligatory hot babe love interest for Shad, and Robert Vaughn doing a deft reprise of his weary, twitchy gunslinger role from "The Magnificent Seven." Jimmy T. Murakami's spirited direction keeps the movie cheery and lively throughout while John Sayles' witty script, the extremely good special effects, James Horner's rousing score and the enthusiastic acting from a tip-top cast (veteran character actor and legendary acting teacher Jeff Corey is especially fine as an old blind man) add substantially to the infectiously frothy merriment. Moreover, there's a real purity and innocence to this picture, a complete dearth of smugness, irony and cynicism, which is both very refreshing and genuinely endearing. A real treat.
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Better than you may think
pumaye14 August 2003
Good variation on the Star Wars franchise, made in the aftermath of the first movie of the series, this Corman production - one of his finest - is almost a remake of the Magnificent Seven, but it is well-made on a limited budget, full of great ideas about the different alien races, with good characterization and several fine lines for the various protagonists. Fun, fun, fun
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A GOOD Roger Corman film? Amazing!
Bruce Cook30 October 2001
Roger Corman was executive producer for this enjoyable and wonderfully campy sci-fi version of `The Magnificent Seven'. It even features Robert Vaughn as the same lost-his-nerve gunslinger he played in the original! John Sayle's script is loaded with fine humor. Director Jimmy T. Murakami obviously knew his film history, since the planet being attacked is called `Kira' -- a tribute to director Akira Kurasowa of `Seven Samurai', the inspiration for the original of this interesting trio of films.

Richard Thomas, star of TV's rustic melodrama `The Waltons', plays the brave young man who leaves his besieged home world to find mercenaries to fight against planet-conquering John Saxon. George Peppard plays `Cowboy', a space-going gunrunner with a Western fixation (another tribute to `Mag 7'). Sybil Danning is a feisty female warrior with a costume that defies description.

The special effects look a bit dated now, but that isn't the film's fault. Sam Jaffe (`The Day the Earth Stood Still') has a great part. Darlene Flugel is the attractive romantic interest for Thomas. James Horner's rousing score is a golden plus. When the movie was first released, sci-fi fans considered it a rip-off because it was released between `Star Wars - A New Hope' and `The Empire Strikes Back' -- tough competition.

Watch this movie as a double feature with `The Magnificent Seven' and you're guaranteed a good time. I've done, and it works just fine . ..

Let me know if it works for you, okay?
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Battle Beyond the Stars
Scarecrow-8816 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Gung-ho sci-fi action fun featuring a solid B-movie cast, one of many erupting after the enormous success of STAR WARS. While the special effects may seem inferior to today's computer generated graphics, there was something aesthetically pleasing to see real, finely detailed models duking it out with lasers in space battle.

Shad's(Richard Thomas) people on the planet Akira are threatened by the evil commander Sador(John Saxon)whose gargantuan ship houses a weapon that can actually disintegrate planets. Sador realizes that Akira has the right kind of habitat for his mutant soldiers and is willing to butcher an entire civilization in order to gain rule over it. Shad volunteers to seek out mercenaries willing to help his people combat Sador.

Roger Corman's successful production, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, achieves a great deal on a modest budget thanks in part to John Sayles' very sharp, witty, really amusing script which takes the sci-fi genre and adds cultural vernacular(..particularly with George Peppard's Cowboy and Sybil Danning's Saint-Exmin)that a regular modern audience can adhere to, a spectacularly rousing score by James Horner, and some stunning matte work along with visually stimulating details for the varying space ships. I think the cast of characters adds substantially though to the movie. Thomas(..who makes a likable baby-faced hero), Saxon(..wonderfully vile as the arch-villain), Peppard( the liquor-swigging, harmonica-blowing, cigarette-smoking, charming freight delivery man who provides Shad with a pal to depend on when needing a leader desperately to help train his non-violent people how to shoot and defend themselves on the ground as Sador's stormtroopers land ready for combat), Darlanne Fluegel( the adorable love interest for Shad, Nanelia, who wishes to mate / procreate with him;she's been raised around robotic humanoids so she's a little naive when it comes to human contact), Danning( a proud female warrior who operates a small, very fast ship, with one of those very revealing suits allowing us to enjoy her massive melons and superb figure), and especially the voice of Lynn Carlin as Nell, the wise-cracking voice of Shad's ship(..who argues with Shad over his risky decisions and often lets their foes know what she thinks about them!). Robert Vaughn has a great part as a tired killer, Gelt, who is sick of being alone, even though his toxic personality doesn't exactly endear him to anybody due to his harsh existence in a cruel galaxy.

This is spirited entertainment, penned by a man who knew how to inject his own brand of humor into these B-movies without insulting the genres themselves. Furthermore, he was able to create nifty roles and snappy dialogue for his casts who understood the material(..and tongue in cheek nature of it all) and went with it.
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John-Boy and his Flying Uterus vs John Saxon and his Super Phallic Object - IN SPACE
lemon_magic1 September 2016
Warning: 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?
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Better than Star Trek:The Motion Picture
jasongoodacre16 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This film is pure entertainment, from its memorable characters and fun storytelling to its Star-Wars-esque (by a young James Cameron) special effects. How it only made $10 million bucks is beyond me when you consider Star Trek released the year earlier made over $100 million and was in my opinion the most boring sci-fi movie ever conceived. This is certainly a hidden gem and the marketing men behind this should have been fired for not turning it a hit.

At the centre of the film is a morality tale - A band of space adventures turned mercenaries join together to defeat a space tyrant who threatens to destroy a planet. Richard Thomas (from The Waltons) is given the task as recruiter and hires among others George Peppard (from The A-Team) and Robert Vaughan (Man from Uncle) as a Magnificent Seven space battle ensues.Some of our heroes sadly die and you actually care about them which is a credit to the writers. Also I love some of the dialogue such as the exchange between our villain and Nestor 2 (1 of a set of clones) who gets captured.

Sador: Are you capable of speech? Nestor 2: Yes, quite capable.

Sador: And do you have a high tolerance for pain?

Nestor 2: Almost none at all, I'm afraid.

Sador: How unfortunate for you. So... How many ships do the Akira have, and what are their capabilities?

Nestor 2: If I told you that, it would give you an unfair advantage.

Sador: This is Frojo, my Third Officer. Frojo is expert at inflicting pain... while keeping the victim alive.

Nestor 2: ...It's good to have skills."

Better than the Black Hole and funnier than Flash Gordon (the leads back chatting ships computer Nell is a hoot), this film has the heart of Star Wars. A great popcorn movie to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
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Seven Samurai in Space
SnoopyStyle15 March 2015
Space tyrant Sador (John Saxon) threatens the pacifist defenseless agricultural planet of Akir with his weapon Stellar Converter. He pledges to return after the harvest in seven risings of their sun as the planet's new master. The elders send young Shad (Richard Thomas) to find mercenaries willing to fight for limited wealth rewards. He recruits Nanelia (Darlanne Fluegel) escaping from her father in her weaponless ship, Space Cowboy from earth (George Peppard) whose customer has just been destroyed by Sador, rich assassin Gelt (Robert Vaughn) looking for a friendly harbor, a Valkyrie named Saint-Exmin (Sybil Danning) looking to prove herself in battle in her tiny ship, five telepathic alien clones from a single consciousness called Nestor and a reptilian slaver named Cayman looking for revenge.

It's cheap Roger Corman production with the bones of the great 'Seven Samurai' and the energetic F/X work of a newcomer named James Cameron. There is definitely cheesy goodness in this. It's a fun space thrill ride. There are some good performances. The writing isn't bad. The production is half cheese and half fun adventure. It all adds up to a fun competent 'Star Wars' inspired B-movie.
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"I will return in seven risings."
utgard1423 February 2014
John Boy from the Waltons goes out and recruits mercenaries to help fight off an evil space warlord. Among those he gets to help are the A-Team's Hannibal, the bad guy from Superman III, and Stirba the werewolf bitch. It's a fun cast. Roger Corman's sci-fi remake of Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven is also the best Star Wars knockoff of the many that came out in the late '70s and early '80s. While many have called this movie cheap-looking, it's actually fairly impressive for a Corman production. He would reuse these sets and some footage for future crappier low-budgeters. This is a fun sci-fi adventure movie that should entertain you if you don't take it all so seriously.
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Been here before, but it's fun to be here again
Neil Welch6 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
If it was a good enough plot to service Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven, it's definitely good enough to service a Roger Corman sci-fi romp surfing in on the top of Star Wars' popularity. Yes, it is the familiar story of a bunch of ragbag mercenaries recruited to save the bacon of a bunch of defenceless locals from merciless predatory bandits, assisted by a young man from the oppressed community.

With production values and effects a notch above the usual Corman benchmark, a cast of fairly well known faces most of whom were on their way down (instead of on their way up, as was usual with Corman), and a foolproof plot, this entertaining bunch of nonsense only has a faint whiff of cheese about it.

Among the cheese are the brassy fanfare theme which becomes a bit much at times, and a hero (or should that be heroine?) spaceship which has a front view like a pair of bosoms topped with eyes on stalks.

Conversely, there are some nice sci-fi notions among the various alien groups, John Saxon overacts madly with Ziggy Stardust face makeup, there are engaging performances generally, and it is cool to see Robert Vaughan reprising his Magnificent Seven role in a distant galaxy far, far away.
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Cheap n'cheerful
matwsussx30 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
First saw this back on UK t.v. one weekday afternoon in the mid 80s and loved it but then i was about 7. I didn't see it again until about 1990 and the only thing i had remembered about it was the Space Cowboy character and the Robert Vaughn mercenary.Now its on satellite telly virtually every week and i've managed to see it a few times. Half of me wants to like this movie and the other half tells me its really a load of rubbish. James Horner's music is a classic and Robert Vaughn's character is the epitome of cool, especially the way he blows all those enemy ships to pieces and the only thing he seems to move are his eyes! George Peppard's space cowboy is OTT but he has some nice scenes such as the land battle as his final charge at the enemy cruiser. The villains are funny (John Saxon's line about sorting out his odd-number of fingers on the amputated arm so they can fit the glove is hysterical) except for the two guys (surely the ugliest humanoid aliens in movie history) who beam up Richard Thomas' sister and do all sorts of unspeakable things to her (strangely in the rest of the movie Thomas doesn't even bat an eyelid or wonder what happened to her. hmm) These two manage to be both supremely creepy as well as blackly humorous, kind of like Mr Wint and Mr Kidd in Diamonds Are Forever. I spose i'd give this film the benefit of the doubt if only for the fact that Robert Vaughn's planet looks like one big ball of fun. Dial-a-date and dial-a-drug? I'm off on my bitchy voiced, double-breasted spaceship right away!
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One of my favorites...
Shield-34 January 2000
Somebody re-release this movie on widescreen home video and DVD immediately, or I'll incinerate your planet with my stellar converter!

It's hard for me to describe how much I love this movie. I love the way Corman and company cheerfully cannibalize whatever movie they want to create their own unique film -- it's like they're giving the audience a sly wink and daring us to guess where this or that character or name or plotline comes from.

No matter how many times I see this movie, I still get a kick out of seeing John-Boy fighting alongside Hannibal Smith and Napoleon Solo. Most of the time I find Richard Thomas very irritating, but somehow, surrounded by cowboys, clones and Caiman, he comes through okay in this movie. George Peppard shows us his devil-may-care smile, Robert Vaughn is cool and deadly, and Sybil Danning is... well, it's too bad this movie wasn't made in 3-D, that's all I need to say about that.

There are some movies you watch that touch deep emotional chords within you, that portray the human condition on a majestic canvas so the audience can achieve catharsis. Then there are movies like "Battle," which don't aspire to anything more than being a fantastic thrill ride and a good time. Seeing it takes me back to happier days, when all you needed saw a blaster, a disparate group of friends, and a talking starship to defeat any challenge.

Ah, warm memories...
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Battle Beyond the Budget
Boodikka5 May 2000
One can only imagine what might have transpired here if not for budgetary restrictions and studio meddling. John Sayles' original script appears to have been rather interesting ( Cayman the slaver was to have been a Black human character but he was somehow transformed into a reptile in the final script!)....Still, the fun, cheesy effects; the stunning Danning and the outstanding theme song make for a great guilty pleasure ( the theme song was used again and again ad infinitum in many other Corman films ).
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I'm not going to say much about this film
mbeswick9920 February 2004
other than it's great and everyone should see it. It has a great cast; it's wittily scripted and is pacy enough to hold anyone's attention. I saw it at the cinema back in the early 80s, and I've enjoyed it just as much every time since. I say this often, but it seems the point of a film like this was to be enjoyable as well as to make money. How many modern fantasy pictures can claim that?
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