Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekly Wish List UPDATE Battle Beyond the Stars...geek love on the screen

Let's get one thing straight, this is not "so bad it's good" in the Ed Wood style of filmmaking. This is Roger Corman doing what he does best, exploiting a genre and doing it on the cheap. As a producer he is definitely all over the board when it comes to quality and this is absolutely one of the "must see" Corman flicks....Take that Fantastic Four. This is Corman capitalizing on the Star Wars mania and giving us Seven Samurai in space...on a budget. This is not for everyone, if you can't handle the slightest bit of camp then you should just leave right now. But for the rest of you this is a passionate piece of science fiction awesomeness. You can see all the hard work that everyone put into this film in every frame. Its not as good as Star Wars but this is a damn fun flick that deserves to be seen with a group of friends and some adult beverages.

Let me see if I can give you a bit of an idea of what you're getting into. The basic idea is that the planet Akira( get samurai...heh) is about to be conquered by an evil warlord. So this peaceful planet sends out a young boy to gather seven warriors from across the galaxy. Like I said....Kurosawa in space...but hey where would Star Wars be without Hidden Fortress. Well the spaceship the boy is in happens to have breasts as well as a sassy female personality that acts as his mentor, there's a drunken space cowboy who has liquor pouring out of his belt, a war obsessed Valkyrie warrior who teaches another young lady about..."life's pleasures"...a techie girl who has only known robots, the awesomely dark Gelt who sits alone...killing anyone who comes near....and so on and so on.

The script by John Sayles is just filled with awesome characters, and you can see just how much fun everyone is having on screen. Everything is played pretty straight, it gets cheesy(we are in a Roger Corman movie after all) in parts but everyone is totally into their roles. This is not overacting for humor, people just embody these unique creatures from across the galaxy. To the point where the end begins to get pretty grim as the death toll rises.

Robert Vaughn pretty much does the same role from Magnificent Seven...he must really love Kurosawa adaptations.

The design on the film is a huge selling point. This is old school sci fi so lots of cel shaded lasers, miniature work, and well a bit of a homemade look to some of the costumes. But it all looks fatastic. James Cameron was the art director(the big breasted spaceship was his idea), and he brings this world to life working with an obviously constrained budget. I love the looks on each of the ships...I love that they completely stole the Correllian Corvette and made it the bad guys base....they make each of the locales in which they find these warriors unique to each one. Again even with the low budget they still wanted to present a legitimate sci fi flick. You never feel like they're on the same sound stage...but they definitely are. Everything is just sincere and full of life.

They all share a singular consciousness...which means...they all experience hot dogs at once.

I know most of you out there won't be able to put aside the slick seamless sci fi that you're used to, or get past the campiness inherent in Corman's work, but if you can give this is a chance...this is fun cinema the way it should be done. It has absolutely more heart and soul and creativity than any Michael Bay film. This is joy onscreen done by passionate individuals who treat the genre with the utmost respect. I love this film, I wish you would too.


One last thought - Apparently the Art Director left right before shooting started....Cameron had a reputation for being incredibly stubborn and absurdly creative. The crew unanimously voted he take over. The documentary on this blu ray rocks and really gives you an idea how they put this film togeher.

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