A peaceful planet called Akira is visited by the conqueror Sador. He promises to return with an armada that will overrun the planet if they do not willingly submit to them. A young man named Shad goes on a mission to get weapons and warriors to fight off Sador and his forces.
He assembles six unique individuals, including a vengeance seeking lizard man, a young scientist, a clone race, a haunted assassin, a beautiful warrior seeking glory, and a fun loving earth man. They all return to help the citizens of the planet.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, this Roger Corman film is a perfect example of Corman’s formula. Star Wars was a hit and had a sequel on it’s way. Corman wanted a Star Wars style film. He commission a script from John Sayles (who also wrote Corman’s Piranha). They opted to take the story from Seven Samurai and set it in space, just as the Magnificent Seven moved it to the old American West.
And the movie is not shy about this. The planet is named Akira, after Seven Samurai director Akira Kurosawa. The advertising for the film included phrases like “Seven Magnificent Warriors”. Robert Vaughn even plays a character much like his dark Lee, from the Magnificent Seven.
This film, while being a knockoff meant to cash in onStar Wars hype, actually stands pretty well on it’s own. A lot of this goes back to the strong cast. George Peppard is a more laid back Han Solo type as the space faring earth man Cowboy. The alien race the Nestors are an alien race of clones who are psychically linked. This allows for a lot of intended humor, such as when they are offered a hotdog and while only one of them eats it, all the Nestor’s can taste is, and one observes, “There is no dog in this”. After they recite the ingredients of a hot dog (determined by taste), Peppered cheerfully responds, “That’s what we call meat on Earth.”
Sybil Danning’s Saint Exmin the Valkerie is from a race that live only to fight in wars. And wear swimming suits (what, you think a Roger Corman film is not going to feature at least one buxom woman in a tiny outfit?!). Initially, Shad is annoyed and tries to chase her off, but she hangs on, proving herself in battle and winning Shad’s respect.
The film features work by James Cameron (as art director) and the designs go from very serious, such as Sador’s rather impressive ship to somewhat tongue in cheek. Shad’s ship has a smart talking female voiced AI. And the ship has breasts. I am not joking.
And James Horner’s musical score is downright great. Battle Beyond the Stars is entertaining and downright fun as low budget Sci-Fi goes.