BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS: 30th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION

 

THE PLOT THUS FAR

Shad (Richard Thomas) must scour the cosmos to recruit mercenaries from different planets and cultures in order to save his peaceful home planet from the threat of the evil tyrant Sador (John Saxon), who’s bent on dominating and enslaving the entire universe. Joining this magnificant seven of mercenaries are the deadly Gelt (Robert Vaughn), carefree Cowboy (George Peppard) and the sexy Valkyrie Saint-Exmin (Sybil Danning).

The film brought together some extremely talented people behind the scenes who went on to bigger and better things: Academy Award winning director James Cameron as the art director, Academy Award winning composer James Horner (Titanic, Avatar), screenwriter John Sayles (Lone Star, Piranha) and producer Gale Ann Hurd (Aliens, The Incredible Hulk) as an assistant production manager.

WHAT WE THOUGHT
Richard Thomas, fresh from The Waltons, takes to the stars to recruit mercenaries to save his agrarian world from invaders, led by John Saxon. He recruits a motley band of space cowboys (George Peppard), lizards, heat manipulating aliens, clonal telepaths, gunfighters (Robert Vaughn) and T & A valkyries (Sybil Danning). Together, this rag-tag band leads the peace-loving Akirans in battle against Sador. The film is great fun, with good ship designs and exciting space battles. The script is good, with many in-jokes and light character moments. The effects, although not as good as ILM, are still eyecatching and work in service to the story. The actors play it straight, but with enough of a twinkle. The designs are interesting, especially Shad’s ship-with-breasts and Saint-Exmin’s costume.

The script from John Sayles really brings out the quirks and personality of the mercenaries. I loved it when one of the Nestors is captured by Sador and threatened with torture. Just as effecting but in a different way is Gelt’s final scene, as his ice-cold demeanor cracks at last and he reflects on a friendless and wasted life. Robert Vaughn succeeds once again with basically the same character he played in “Magnificent Seven”. Even Sador and his Malmori mutants have personality. John Saxon has a ball playing an evil villain that was different from his usually heroic characters. His second in command comes across as strangely reluctant. Even the scummy mutants Kalo and Tembo are more than mere cannon fodder.

The Blu-Ray comes with a new anamorphic transfer that Shout slapped together for this release. Honestly, it’s the best that I’ve ever seen this movie look across a gazillion home video presentations. The new DTS 5.1 HD master audio track is a revelation, as James Horner’s score sings throughout every speaker and not a line of dialogue is dropped. The commentary tracks seem old, but I can’t place whether they’ve been used before. I could’ve swore that I heard the Corman and Sayles track on an older DVD. The rest of the materials are a blend of featurettes and promo spots used to sell the movie. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 07/12/2011

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