Saturday, December 13, 2014

Battle Beyond the Stars

Battle Beyond the Stars; science-fiction action, USA, 1980; D: Jimmy T. Murakami, S: Richard Thomas, Darlanne Fluegel, John Saxon, George Peppard, Robert Vaughn, Sybil Danning

Space imperialist Sador arrives with his army at the orbit of peaceful planet Akir and demands that the people surrender to him. Refusing the annexation, but unable to fight, the nation sends one lad, Shad, to escape with his spaceship and go on a search to find mercenaries who will fight for them. Shad finds seven willing - a girl, Nanelia; a Space Cowboy; Gelt; a collective of aliens, Nestor; reptile Cayman; another alien and Saint Exmin, a blond Valkyrie warrior. In the self-defence, all of them die, except Nanelia and Shad, who manage to detonate a bomb inside Sador's spaceship, thereby killing him.

This cult patchwork Sci-Fi retelling of "The Seven Samurai" and "The Magnificent Seven" is a solid and easily watchable film without reaching the heights of its role models, and enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame in the 80s because it was riding on the wave of Sci-Fi 'boom' after "Star Wars" and "Alien". Despite 'abridged' special effects and a limited budget, some effects of spaceships in space are surprisingly good, whereas the story flows smoothly, however, for a screenplay written by John Sayles, the story lacks charm and its two main protagonists - Shad and Nanelia - are disappointingly bland, stiff and unmemorable. A few moments of inspiration and wit show up here and there (a humorous scene where an alien says how it is refreshing that humans only need two genders to have sex, while three genders are needed for its species; the Nestor collective of aliens tries an assassination attempt by controlling the transplanted arm of one of their specimen that was implanted on dictator Sador), but they are in the minority and the story seems pretty standard most of the time. As such, "Battle Beyond the Stars" is not as fun as it could have been, though it is done with measure and without excess. Some supporting characters almost steal the show from the two heroes, among them Robert Vaughn as mercenary Gelt, whereas Sybil Danning stands out the most as the feisty, blond Valkyrie woman with a silver bikini and diadem that make her irresistibly beautiful - quite frankly, she should have been the lead.


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