Seven Samurai beget The Magnificent Seven beget Battle Beyond the Stars. Of course, this low budget ($2 million) sci-fi action pic was a cash-in on Star Wars (1977); I even noticed similarities to Star Trek the Motion Picture (1979), especially some of the music, which resembles the ominous tones in the Star Trek film (whenever there were outer space scenes with V'Ger, the giant ship in that film). This was early work from composer James Horner. Gale Anne Hurd stated the Star Trek connection up front in her audio commentary on the DVD for Battle Beyond the Stars.
I was surprised that I liked this more now than how I remembered it from when I saw this in the theater back in 1980. I recalled it as a bit on the slow side and too derivative of the larger-budgeted sci-fi films. For some reason, I enjoy it more now - I think all involved did as well as they could for such a small film. A few creative people who became very well known later lent their talents to this early in their careers. Besides Hurd, James Cameron did some model work here and was art director. John Sayles wrote the script. By the way, Marta Kristen has a small role as a love interest for Peppard's character; she played the eldest daughter on the Lost in Space TV show.
__ABOVE: Richard Thomas with director Jimmy Murakami Richard Thomas, as young man-on-a-mission Shad, is actually pretty good, contributing a realistic performance for such an escapist and somewhat cheesy sci-fi picture. George Peppard is drawling & laid-back as Cowboy; he makes drinks for himself using a special belt he wears and smokes too much (Peppard died of lung cancer in '94). Robert Vaughn, as the most seasoned merc, only appears a bit past the 40-minute mark and falls in battle well before the climax; I'm guessing he was contracted for a very limited number of film days. He essentially plays the same character as in The Magnificent Seven, just 20 years older.
John Saxon hams it up as the main villain (sort of the Eli Wallach role in The Magnificent Seven). Sybil Danning is a sight to behold as the warrior Valkyrie. Morgan Woodward, who guested in a couple of Star Trek episodes (including The Omega Glory) is hidden beneath reptilian make-up. Strangely, he's much more cheerful than usual as the reptile-man. Earl Boen plays the clone, Nestor; he appeared in the first 3 Terminator films as the annoying psychiatrist.
The one who may have contributed the best performance, however, may have been Lynn Carlin, who provided the voice of Nell, the computerized ship used by Shad. She is never shy about voicing her opinion or trying to mentor the young man. Guess which character's demise made me the most sad? Some of the ships in this film are well-detailed and much of the set design is also impressive for such a small film. The plot is simple but there are various little ideas popping up here and there to make this at least moderately interesting. The battles in the final act actually generate some excitement. We all know, since this follows the pattern of The Magnificent Seven, there may not be too many survivors among the good guys. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10 Battle Beyond the Trivia: actor Peppard was considered for Steve McQueen's role in the 1960 The Magnificent Seven; Star Trek TOS actor alert: Morgan Woodward (the reptile-man) appeared in Dagger of the Mind and as bad Capt. Tracey in The Omega Glory
Galaxy Overlord Galactus
Posts : 3265 Join date : 2010-02-28 Location : Earth-1