RE-Entertaining Peery: Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) Murakami

June 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

“I’m from Earth! Ever hear of it?”

While perusing Netflix, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and watch one of the numerous sci-fi films I had viewed as a child. Nine times out of ten most offerings in this genre will not hold up very well with age. This time I was pleasantly surprised.

1980’s Battle Beyond the Stars was most likely a film produced by Roger Corman in order to cash in on the coattails of Star Wars. At the time, this film was also one of Corman’s biggest budget films, however from judging the budgets of his other films prior that means coming up with around the amount of dough needed to feed a family of four at McDonalds.

That said, the film’s premise is fairly solid and uses Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai as its base. Ironically, with the casting of Robert Vaughan in this film he has been in two remakes of Seven Samurai, more or less reprising his role of Lee from The Magnificent Seven. Also notable was George Peppard’s “Space Cowboy” role which was quirky and endearing, the character possessed with a Scotch, soda, and ice dispensing utility belt along with a Rebel flag bearing spaceship.

Overall, the production value and special F/X are above average for the time period and budget. The dialog has some expected Corman camp, but is otherwise bearable.  The make-up and creature F/X could have used a bit more budget, specifically Nestor and Cayman. However, the ship models and interiors are above average being on par with ILM of the day. Notably, this film was James Cameron’s big break as the special F/X and art director. Also, while scanning the credits I found John Sayles as screenwriter and Gale Anne Hurd, a frequent Cameron collaborator (and one-time spouse), who now produces this blog’s favorite TV target The Walking Dead. It’s always interesting to see the early work of current movers and shakers.

I frequently have written about and prepared course syllabi on Video Games and Film. With this viewing I suspect this film may have influenced the Star Control series of video games. The games’ themes and the matching of disparate races and ships are quite similar to those depicted in the film.

Overall, there are much worse films offered on Netflix streaming and this was worth the 104 minutes to (re-)watch.

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