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Review Battle Beyond the Stars (1980): Star Wars meets The Magnificent Seven!

genre: action, adventure, science fiction

Battle Beyond the Stars is not a simple Star Wars rip-off. It actually is more like The Magnificent Seven in space. The Magnificent Seven can be called a Seven Samurai rip-off. This is not the only film directed by Akira Kurosawa that has been ripped off many times. Another film of his called The Hidden Fortress was a huge inspiration for George Lucas. In a way, this is karmic justice in its finest form. However, you feel about it, one shouldn't just dismiss a film as a simple cash in if a lot of love and works has been put into a project. All the films I have mentioned demonstrated that a lot of films are stolen from or inspired by, but each of the titles here have something unique, and the same goes for Battle Beyond the Stars.

For one thing, this low budget film is pretty ambitious. Again, Roger Corman demonstrates to perform miracles on a dime. The dirty and unclean look of the spaceships actually help sell that space is a dog-eat-dog world, and you need to fend off pursuers every two seconds. The biggest crook of them all is Sador played by John Saxon. This gets demonstrated when he arrives at the planet of our lead, Shad played by Richard Thomas (most famous for The Waltons and IT the miniseries). Sador wants all their food, or otherwise he will destroy the planet. Naturally, a few people feel compelled to do something about it. And Shad is one of them. He volunteers to seek out warriors and weapons who can aid them in battle. It's actually quite entertaining to see how he rounds up these people and how they come together against Sador. Especially, when some characters come across as useless. St. Exmin played by Sybill Danning for example. She even gets mocked by her peers But from all the characters she is the most fearless, and she proves herself as one of the toughest Valkyrie in existence.

Perhaps the pacing is a little off sometimes, but in general you do get the sense that it's no joke to have to deal with Sador. He obviously is a force to be reckoned with and definitely won't be easy. The good actors certainly help to sell the events. Robert Vaughn, basically reprising the role of the outlaw he played in The Magnificent Seven and you have George Peppard as this version's Han Solo. He is always great. 

Overall, there is more good than bad. From start to finish it's a blast, yes pun intended! Even when some events are played out seriously, one thing you have to remember, you shouldn't take them too seriously. The film is immense fun and actually is very creative in the way they do battle and how some species operate. Besides, this is a very good space opera. And I personally, can't get enough of those.

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