Random Film of the Week(end), Too: Battle Beyond The Stars

BBTS_posterAfter Star Wars was released and hit it huge at the box office, nearly every sci-fi film made afterward during the next decade plus was immediately (and unfortunately) compared to it. This bit of mental short-handing by critics, fans and other detractors with short attention spans may have been correct about most of these films’ characters, visual effects and overall designs being influenced by the art direction and effects found in George Lucas’ movie, but in terms of story, well… that’s where some needed their heads handed to them. That easily digestible tale of mystic good versus mystic evil in an epic fantasy/space opera lite setting was cut from the cloth of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials, assorted WWII movies (The Dam Busters, 633 Squadron and others) and most importantly, a great “little” film by Akira Kurosawa called Hidden Fortress (which SHOULD be a RFoTW, but I haven’t gotten around to seeing it again).

In fact, Kurosawa’s films have formed the basis of a few important American and international film hits, and if you poke around enough, you’ll see (and be surprised) that some of your own favorites started life as Kurosawa projects. Probably his best known film (at least here in the US), Seven Samurai was reworked into a few films over the years as The Magnificent Seven and this particularly cool 1980 sci-fi sleeper produced by Roger Corman and directed by Jimmy T. Murakami. As fun as Lucas’ flick was, as a lower budgeted quickie, Battle Beyond The Stars manages to be its equal in a few small areas and actually surpasses it in at least one surprising manner… Continue reading