- Movie Rating -

Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

| September 8, 1980

So . . . how exactly does one have a battle beyond the stars?  Stars are infinite in the universe.  No matter where you go, they’re all around you in distant galaxies.  No matter where you go, you can see them, well, unless you’re in the city and the lights are blotting them out.

I could probably say the same about Star Wars.  Stars don’t have wars.  A more accurate title might have been War Among the Stars and for that matter, a better title for this movie might have been Battle Among the Stars.  Or even more accurately, Battle Where You Can See the Stars.  But, then again, that might indicate that you’re out in the country, away from the city, having a battle where the stars are clear at night.  Maybe Battle in Space just didn’t sound marketable.

It is likely that I have given more thought to the logic of these titles than anyone did to Battle Beyond the Stars, a limp science fiction western that rips off Star Wars and The Magnificent Seven in ways that might have generated a law suit if anyone thought it was worth the effort.

Produced by Roger Corman and written by John Sayles with special effects work done by James Cameron, these names today might indicate that there is something special here, something that pulls it out of the post-Star Wars dustbins, but don’t get your hopes up.  While it does contain many of the trademarks of both Sayles and Cameron, the movie is typical Corman, a quickie ball of junk, tossed out in theaters to appeal to 10-year-olds over a weekend.

The movie steals heavily from Star Wars but its story steals largely from The Magnificent Seven which was an American remake of Seven Samurai.  So, if you think this is just a watered-down copy of a copy, you’d be right.  The story involves a group of farmers of the planet Akir, who are under the thumb of the evil Sador (John Saxon) and so they send young Shad (Richard Thomas) into space to gather a bunch of helpful mercenaries to help with the situation.

The group he brings back are the strangest group of goofballs this side of Planet Vulcan: Gelt (Robert Vaughn), a wanted assassin; Cowboy (George Peppard), a space trucker who wants revenge on Sador; Saint-Exmin (Sybill Danning), a big-breasted Valkyrie who seeks glory in battle; and there are the standard-issue robots about.

The story goes exactly where you expect it to go.  This group must somehow form a family, or at least one that is united in taking over the villain and his mish-mash of easily defeated henchmen in order to bring freedom to the galaxy beyond the stars . . . or maybe among the stars, or at least where you can see the stars. Something.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized