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Overall Rating
3.49

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look57.78%
Average: 8.89%
Pretty Bad: 13.33%
Total Crap: 8.89%

3 reviews, 27 user ratings


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Battle Beyond the Stars
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by brianorndorf

"Star Wars for $1.99"
4 stars

Never one to leave a Hollywood trend alone, producer Roger Corman decided to assemble his own “Star Wars” space opera cash machine with “Battle Beyond the Stars,” a low-budget (of course) take on Lucasian matinee mayhem. The results are predictably formulaic, but never cynical, with Corman and his team of filmmakers creating a sincere, engaging sci-fi spectacle that makes a lovely ruckus, though it lacks a cracking pace that helped shape “Star Wars” into a legend.

When the peaceful planet of Akil is targeted for takeover by the merciless overlord Sador (John Saxton), young Shad (Richard Thomas) is tasked with finding help out in the galaxy, taking to the stars in a dilapidated ship guided by a wisecracking computer (voiced by Lynn Carlin). Searching for weapons, Shad instead discovers several eager mercenaries: space trucker Cowboy (George Peppard), rogue Gelt (Robert Vaughn), clone Nestor (Earl Boen), fierce warrior Saint-Exmin (Sybil Danning), computer ace Nanelia (Darlanne Fluegel), and lizard Cayman (Morgan Woodward) -- all ready to take on Sador and destroy his ultimate planet-obliterating weapon, the “Stellar Converter,” returning to Akil for the final battle.

Directed by Jimmy T. Murakami and written by John Sayles, this 1980 release has been famously described as “The Seven Samurai” in space, with Corman paying tribute to a time-tested formula for screen heroism, permitting the production an opportunity to erect a colorful display of spaceships and aliens to help feel out the “Star Wars” atmosphere. It’s wholly derivative (“Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Trek,” and “Superman” are peppered into the mix as well), but consistent in its confidence, with Murakami finding a jolly tone of discovery to exploit as the story marches around the galaxy, unearthing all types of heroes and villains.

Featuring a rousing score from James Horner (sounding like a blend of “Krull” and “Star Trek 2”) and extensive design work from a young James Cameron, “Battle Beyond the Stars” holds an impressive collection of talent, deploying gifted artists to fashion a blockbuster with spare change. While Corman’s most expensive production at the time, the picture still holds to spare B-movie theatrics, deploying repetitive model work and imperfect make-up to bring the screen to life. Doing much with very little, the production deserves enormous credit for the creation of worlds and ships, infusing the seven warriors with crisp identities (you’ll recognize Cowboy’s ship as the one with the Confederate flag on it, Shad’s ride has metal breasts) and divergent appearances to help generate a spirited tone of collaboration. Sayles juggles the characters superbly, permitting everyone their opportunity to shine and emote, while Murakami bends over backwards to seamlessly patch together numerous special effects, happy to distract the viewer with chase sequences and extended invasion showdowns, also using Danning’s sex bomb appeal to keep attention away from the budgetary limitations. Why pay for explosions when there’s spandex?

Sayles does have the unfortunate task of dreaming up names for everything on display, leaving the film to strain a little too hard to achieve the breathlessness of George Lucas’s screenwriting. Shad is a strange hero name, but with characters like Gelt, Mol, and Cowboy, the awkwardness fades away after a few reels. There’s also an issue of padding, establishing a romantic connection of sorts between Shad and Nanelia, who share a curiosity about sex without the organic development of mutual interest found in similar epics. Though intended to be a chaste pairing of virginal rubes, Thomas and Fluegel share little chemistry, with their coupling used to break up the action, especially in the laser-heavy third act.

“Battle Beyond the Stars” grows monotonous during its volatile conclusion. There are only so many intense close-ups of actor faking space flight one can take before it all starts to lose impact. The picture limps to a finale, but it’s not a rough landing, sustaining a good vs. evil focus that’s appealing, despite a few dramatic barriers. Corman wanted a “Star Wars” and he got one with “Battle Beyond the Stars.” It’s a knockoff, but one executed with more flair than expected, assembling a few interesting thrills of its own.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3080&reviewer=404
originally posted: 06/17/11 23:20:56
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User Comments

9/11/16 mr.mike Is "no bad" 4 stars
6/29/14 B In tears all the way through - best movie ever 5 stars
2/01/13 dr.lao Good ol' fashioned cheesy fun 3 stars
10/26/09 No_limits11 Also, Google stated that people who commented might be selected to become Researchers, ther 3 stars
10/26/09 SouthWind24 The hate discussed there is not only irrational, but will make the most tolerant non-whites 4 stars
10/25/09 BadGirl31 Nations institutionalize their founding story as a renewable source of guidance and inspi 2 stars
10/25/09 Merlin45 Something like 95% of the problems described here as well as 95% of the problems blacks exp 4 stars
10/24/09 Red12 Appropriately calibrated to student ability, intensive reading and writing assignments acc 2 stars
10/24/09 Bob97 Perhaps that is why current discussions of the problem give it little attention or get it o 2 stars
10/24/09 Red78 Not only do you want to make sure that they are ready for the instruction, but you must a 2 stars
10/23/09 Barbara30 Take advantage of your talents and interests and use them to your advantage when creating t 2 stars
10/23/09 Barbara72 But if you are a scrawny post-adolescent boy who absolutely must have a steady stream of ca 2 stars
11/26/06 Adam Phillips Its a load of cheesy fun, and i admit that I watched it a couple of years back -still enjoy 4 stars
7/08/06 MickR BETTER than the MUCH overly hyped Star Wars!! 5 stars
8/27/05 ES the good old days, reminds everyone to watch Ice Pirates and Hell Comes to Frogtown again 4 stars
4/03/04 Dave F. Great! But, it was even more fun working on it. 1 stars
2/13/04 Christopher Steig Bad movie, but funny enough to sit through again to point and laugh! 4 stars
12/06/03 Mike Waters Battle beyond the stars is definitely one of the best!!! 5 stars
5/12/03 Michael Warth this movie is JAWSOME!!!! 5 stars
2/28/03 arles so bad, it literally makes you sick 1 stars
1/24/03 Rick Highly enjoyable slice of scifi hokum 4 stars
12/23/02 3man Not the best movie but campy. Gotta love Space Cowboy! 3 stars
5/21/02 Charles Tatum Goofy fun, better than usual Corman-crap. 4 stars
4/21/02 Monkeynut mate it was so budget it was funny. 1 stars
1/16/02 David A. I saw this back in 5th grade (1981) and it was a big disappointment. 3 stars
6/07/01 blazfeem I saw the movie and own it. I love this film. 5 stars
1/10/00 John Markham Pointless Sci-Fi. Everyone involved & all viewers, have wasted their lives! 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Sep-1980 (PG)
  DVD: 06-Feb-2001

UK
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Australia
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