Battle Beyond The Sun (movie review)

Battle Beyond The Sun is a dubbed and slightly chopped up film released by Roger Corman and not to be confused with another Roger Corman movie, Battle Beyond The Stars, which this predates by something like 20 or so years. It was edited by Francis Ford Coppola, who was handed a strange movie, a Soviet propaganda film, and made some strange choices with it.

In the American version, the world experienced a nuclear holocaust in 1997 and the world powers were divided to the northern and southern hemispheres, abandoning any other sense of regional allegiance or native country. It’s weird watching a movie and seeing that the future has rendered yours nonexistent, that your family had died horrifically before this time, AND that the regional bad guys could be from your area. Oh the Northern Hemisphere is the warring state? Nuts.

The Southern Hemisphere was the Soviet Union in the original version, and the Northern Hemisphere was the USA, and you can guess who the bad guy is in this film about adhering to the plan on behalf of the state, and unity in the face of reckless personal achievement. I’ll just call them the Soviets and the Americans. The Soviets have a really nice space station and they are going to launch a ship from there to send some cosmonauts to be the first men on Mars. An American ship, the Typhoon, hails the space station: their ship is damaged, can they set down for repairs? The Soviets say sure. They invite the Americans for dinner, and let it slip that they plan on going to Mars soon. The Americans are like “really?” and sneak away to hop in their ship and beat the Soviets to Mars.

The Soviets feel a little hurt, and send their two cosmonauts out to try and overtake the Typhoon. They only succeed because the Typhoon was still damaged and they were now on their way to the sun. This was produced in the late 1950s but it should have been pretty easy to look at a map of the known solar system to see that the sun and Mars are in the opposite directions, and it would be pretty hard to get THAT lost in such a short amount of time. The Soviets, with glory and success in their grasp, decide to turn around and rescue the Americans.

From there, boring scenes of men slow space walking from ship to ship, landing on an asteroid, and then some WEIRD scenes of two monsters that Coppola inserted into the film. There are some amazing space shots of models and paintings. Drab brutalism dragged into space that are still impressive on a different level. I’ve seen plenty of sci-fi movies from this area, even the “good ones,” and they’re nowhere near as inventive. You wouldn’t get shots of watching a damaged rocket from the view of the other cockpit fall into “the sun.” It’s in color so the view of Mars & its “canals” are also pretty amazing. Both teams are rescued eventually, at the expense of another astronaut, and the whole mission is deemed a success.

I can’t imagine this is a direct connection, but as you might know, LOTS of film auteurs cut their teeth working on Roger Corman films. James Cameron worked behind the scenes on Battle Beyond The Stars. Battle Beyond The Sun? The world experiences destruction in 1997? The same year Cyberdine Systems causes mass destruction in The Terminator? COINCIDENCE?!?

Other than neat space visuals, this is a boring one to sit through. The American astronauts stick out, one with this dynamic haircut and wild expressions on a very gray face, the other who has a deep scar on his forehead as if he took an axe to his face on behalf of capitalism. It’s not very long, I think under 70 minutes, if even an hour. Not all that recommended unless you want to look at old futuretech.

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