Battle Beyond The Stars – Jimmy T. Murakami – 1980

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There were many Star Wars knockoffs and most were bad. Battle Beyond The Stars is no exception. Based on the infinitely superior Seven Samurai and given a short run time for a sci-fi drama, this film was designed to cash in on being Star Wars light. Not that this film is completely without charm. There is incredible production design by James Cameron, and great costumes and spaceships, including a spaceship that appears to have boobs. The problem is, the lead sucks, and the space battles are a series of one-shots, never having two ships in the same shot to create geography or drama.

Shad’s planet has been attacked by John Saxon, and an old blind man has told him to go recruit mercenaries to defend their planet. You know the story. Shad is so lame and has no personality save a few humorless verbal jabs at the annoyingly human voiced AI system. The film takes much too long to set up the threat and once Shad is in space one wonders why he doesn’t just look for a better world to settle upon.

But instead we get the best part of the movie, the introduction of the mercenaries, a lizard man, a multiple man, Robert Vaughn, a Cowboy and some others I can’t remember. These introductions are the only characterizations present throughout the entire affair, and make for a charming roll call.

But now an hour has passed and it’s time to sew up what little plot we thought to write. They fly seven spaceships at John Saxon but he blows up six of them and stupid Shad has to save the day at the end.

This film is slow, has a soft doughy protagonist and I hope his planet blows up. The space fights are boring and repetitive and all of the cool characters die. I wish there was some sort of textual analysis to offer but most everything in the film is an inane waste of time. I wish someone had taken those sets and costumes and models and made a good film. If there is any lesson to be learned, I suppose it’s if you are on the last spaceship of a doomed planet, fly away, because if you return, even if you save the day, it’s going to be totally boring.

Also, John Saxon can rule my planet any day.

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