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Battle Beyond the Stars

3.5 out of 5 stars 218 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Seven mercenaries are recruited from throughout the galaxy to save a peaceful planet from the threat of an evil tyrant bent on dominating and enslaving the entire universe.

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Twenty-first-century science fiction fans accustomed to special-effects orgies like The Matrix may snigger at the quaint, Flash Gordon-like spaceships in Battle Beyond the Stars. But executive producer Roger Corman's belated entry into the '70s sci-fi craze surpasses expectations with sharp performances and a witty script by John Sayles (his third for Corman, including 1978's Piranha). The story, lifted wholesale from Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954), finds the dictator Sador (John Saxon) threatening the planet of Akira. Its pacifist inhabitants are no match for Sador's devastating weapon, the Stellar Converter, but young Shad (Richard Thomas) decides to fight back. Borrowing the ship of notorious mercenary Zed the Corsair, he recruits a band of mercenaries, each of whom has a personal reason to join the fight. Among them are a lizard-like humanoid (Morgan Woodward), an improbable space cowboy (George Peppard), a zaftig female warrior (Sybil Danning), and brooding killer-for-hire Gelt (Robert Vaughn, reprising his Magnificent Seven role). Battle's final showdown is somewhat anticlimatic, but the surprisingly stellar cast (which includes Sam Jaffe and Darlanne Fluegel) and the indie spunk of Sayles' script, with its light meditations on death and honor, will charm newcomers and repeat audiences alike. New Concorde's digitally remastered DVD features commentary by Sayles and Terminator 2 producer Gale Anne Hurd, Battle's assistant production manager. Oh, and those spaceships? Designed by Titanic director James Cameron. Still laughing? --Paul Gaita

Special Features

  • Production Stills

Product Details

  • Actors: George Peppard, Robert Vaughn, Richard Thomas, John Saxon, Darlanne Fluegel
  • Directors: Jimmy T. Murakami, Roger Corman
  • Writers: Anne Dyer, John Sayles
  • Producers: Roger Corman, Ed Carlin, Mary Ann Fisher
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: New Concorde
  • DVD Release Date: February 6, 2001
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000055ZF1
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,152 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Battle Beyond the Stars" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Would you believe a spaceship with breasts? There's one in this 1980 Roger Corman space opera! The spaceship has a female computer personality named Nell and a decidedly feminine shape, which includes two enormous breast-like mounds on its underside. Since there is no nudity in this movie, which is unusual in a Corman film, he had to get the breasts in somewhere, so model designer/builder/art director James Cameron put them on the space craft! Very amusing indeed! Cameron went on to design bigger and better things, like the Titanic.
Battle Beyond the Stars was the biggest-budgeted movie Corman had ever made up to that time, about 2 million dollars, and his money is up there on the screen, with good sets, good props, good special effects, and a good cast. In typical Corman fashion everything except the cast was used over and over again in other space sagas he made. Waste not, want not! is his credo, and he boasts that he's never lost a dime on any of his movies. I believe it.
The plot of this movie was stolen shamelessly from Akira Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai, so if you liked that Japanese epic and its American remake, The Magnificent Seven, you should like Battle Beyond the Stars, too. It just goes to show that if you have to steal a story, you might as well steal a great one!
The cast includes Richard Thomas, just out of his John-Boy of The Waltons role, as a poor man's Luke Skywalker recruiting mercenaries George Peppard, Robert Vaughn, Marta Kristen, and Sybil Danning, among others, to fight the evil conqueror Sador, played by John Saxon, always a good villain.
Never one to miss a trend, or start one, Corman cashed in on the phenomenal success of Star Wars with Battle Beyond the Stars. It's a fun film and I recommend this DVD widescreen edition. There's interesting commentaries by Gale Anne Hurd, John Sayles and Roger Corman, movie trailers, biographies, trivia game, scene index -- but the usual Corman filmography booklet is absent here.
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Format: Blu-ray
Roger Corman is known for being the low budget king of B-Movies. Although I am not much a fan of Corman's flash in the pan micro-budget movies this one has a certain charm that can only be brought together through some talented people behind him. Mind you this is still a low budget B-movie and it shows. Still the young at heart will appreciate enough of this film to put a smile on their face.

First off, as mentioned before, the plot is nothing new. While a lot of people would say he is ripping off Star Wars that is really not the case (although he probably is banking on the popularity of the space opera). As a matter of fact Corman, in his infinite desire to copy successful themes based Battle Beyond the Stars on the The Magnificent Seven. Which of course was copied by John Sturges in his western classic from Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece The Seven Samurai. So technically Corman didn't copy anything that wasn't already copied. Still a good plot is a good plot no matter where it came from and putting it in a science fiction setting only makes the movie that much more interesting.

What makes this story work so well is that Corman "gets" what Magnificent Seven (and Seven Samurai for that matter) were doing... at least to a point. These movies were less about the brave warriors protecting a community from evil raiders and more about the various personalities of said warriors. Battle Beyond the stars takes that to different level with the different warriors coming from different planets and cultures. While most of the character development is a little more than two dimensional the amount of various characters really make up for it. From there you have a usual space opera fare. Spaceships roaring and blowing each other up to majestic music. Villains wearing black and acting ruthless.
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Format: DVD
What allows Battle Beyond the Stars to transcend its low budget, simple special effects and infinitely recycled plot? The most important aspect of filmmaking: Ideas.
This was one [heck] of a smart script. No surprise, since the writer is John Sayles, a screenwriter of impeccable literary sense. The dialogue of this film crackles better than most big-budget films I've seen, and as a result Darlanne Fluegel (as innocent maiden Nanelia), Robert Vaughn (ice-cool mercenary Gelt), Sybil Danning (who steals the show as dashing, comically busty Valkyr warrior Saint-Exmin), Earl Boen (as lead drone Nestor) and George Peppard (as Space Cowboy) all shine, having a field day with the incredibly brisk pace and economical character interactions. And there's great comic material here, which is like an amplification of the gently sardonic tone of Seven Samurai, the obvious ancestor of this film.
The richness of Sayles' conception of this world just draws you in -- even more so, I would argue, than Star Wars, because the depth of the philosophical implications behind the details is phenomenal. The "Facets" of Nestor, the on-the-run nihilism of Gelt the mercenary, and the communicative dilemma of the Kelvin -- it all points to very real human needs and psychological desires, hidden behind the comic-book action and tongue-in-cheek tone. Revel, as well, in the amount of attention paid to the design: Talking spaceship "Nell" is in the shape of a giant woman's body; the stingray menace of Gelt's ship; the different kinds of "hum" that each character's vehicle produces. Shows what you can do even with little money if you put some thought into it.
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