Battle Beyond The Stars/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far way...there was a HUGE battle between an evil empire and young boys and girls that became one of the most successful movies of all time. Earthlings were excited about Star Wars back then and businesses tried to capitalize on its success. From the disco rendition of Star Wars theme to the PSA about smoking, you couldn't escape the popularity of this movie. Of course the movies studios tried to cash-in on the space/sci-fi craze by making their own "Star Wars". For example, Paramount decided to make "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" instead of making a new Star Trek TV show (FYI: The "Star Trek: Phase II" project was then abandoned). Unfortunately, the movie itself is really boring. Anyway, Roger Corman's New World Pictures also made their own version of SW called "Battle Beyond The Stars" that used a lower budget and a plot that was suspiciously similar to Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. Although many people may think that it's campy and looks really cheap like Star Crash, I think this movie has its own charm.
The story begins with Sador, an evil guy who decides to invade a peaceful planet named Akir. He tells everyone that he wants to colonize there and everyone should obey him, otherwise this planet will be destroyed. After many farmers get shot by Sador, a young man named Shad decides to fight against the tyranny by gathering people from several places. The characters that join Shad are Nanelia (the beautiful daughter of a scientist) Space Cowboy (a space cowboy (no pun intended) from Earth) a group of five white aliens named Nestor, Cayman of the Lambda Zone, Gelt (an assassin who agrees to fight with Shad in order to find a place he can hide), and Saint-Exmin (a sexy woman) who joins the fight to prove herself. As all of you may guess, not all of them survive. They learn about friendship and the fight between the good and evil.
Although George Lucas said the he borrowed lots of elements from Seven Samurai for Star Wars, Battle Beyond the Stars, a movie that has a plot very similar to Seven Samurai, also has similar elements from Star Wars. The first thing we see on the screen after the opening credits is a slow-panned shot of the spaceship that reminds me of the famous opening scene in Star Wars. You know, the scene that shows two spaceships flying overhead. Then, as the scene goes by, we see a wipe transition between each scene just like in Star Wars. But what I really love is the characters. They look strangely familiar. From Shad (Luke Skywalker) to Space Cowboy (Han Solo) to Nell (C3PO), they look like these characters are the clone of Star Wars and I think that's pretty cool. Oh! I forgot to tell you who Nell is. Nell is the computer of Shad's ship who usually argues with Shad in many situations. For example, in the early scenes they argue whether Shad should blast the evil spaceship or not. This brings a humorous tone to the movie.
Unfortunately, this movie has flaws and one of them is the pacing. There's scenes or dialogue that should be shortened. Let's take a look at what most people make fun of about in this film...the Special Effects. There are lots of critics who complain about the much lower quality of SFX than Star Wars. I mean, come on! The film was shot with $2,000,000 budget while Star Wars had $11,000,000! There's no way this movie could look as good as SW. Since Roger Corman was a veteran producer, he knew how to spend money wisely. There are lots of scenes that I was totally impressed by through their efforts to show you how fun this movie is. For example, there are lots of scenes that show the spaceship with dark lighting. I think this was done to hide flaws in the model or the special effects. It's a cheap method, but really useful here.
In conclusion, this movie is better than what I heard or read before. I strongly recommend it to everyone who wants to see a forgotten Star Wars cash-in that looks really good.