Battle Beyond The Stars

Battle Beyond the Stars. New World Pictures 1980.

Before watching the movie:

The Seven Samurai has been remade and recontextualized and homaged many, many times. Its best known remake is of course the Western The Magnificent Seven, but pretty much every “go put together a group of mercenaries to save the hometown” story is probably based on Seven Samurai. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie do it so blatantly that the tagline itself invokes Magnificent Seven. Apparently Roger Corman wanted to do something like Star Wars and decided to do a sci-fi interpretation of Seven Samurai. So he did.

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Filmauro 2004.

Before watching the movie:

This is such a bizarre movie on the face of it. It ostensibly takes its influences from pulp adventure and German Expressionism, but it comes off like it’s part of a franchise that doesn’t exist (which may be part of the artistic intent of imitating pulp serials), and the audacious scope has a hint of Anime plotting to me (as well as the man being called “Sky Captain” sounding like a translation beating out the subtlety of it).

The origins remind me of how Lucas created Star Wars because he wanted to do a Buck Rodgers movie, only this looks more successful at that idea in some ways. This seems like more of an update of the pulp feel than Star Wars achieved. (Perhaps it’s because I’ve always lived in a world where it existed, but that franchise has always seemed more like its own thing of its own time than something that could screen next to Buck Rodgers, but I’ve already digressed too much.)

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Invisible Invaders

Invisible Invaders. Premium Pictures 1959.

Before watching the movie:

Here is a sci-fi B-movie. B-movies can be fun. Very few B-movies are legendary enough to be well-known. This is not one of them.

Apparently John Agar is a big name of B-movies, but I don’t recognize him. Mainly because I’m not steeped in B-movies. But they are fun.

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Deep Blue Sea

Deep Blue Sea. Warner Bros. Pictures 1999.

Before watching the movie:

I’m surprised that I don’t recognize any of the names at the top of the cast list other than Samuel L. Jackson. I would have thought the central protagonist would be a big name.

Anyway, scientists meddle with sharks and make them more dangerous because science things. It makes more sense than some of the places the Jaws franchise went, really.

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Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Windsor Productions 1961.

Before watching the movie:

I’m entirely unfamiliar with this movie, but it involves shooting nuclear missiles at the Van Allen Belt to put out a fire, so the science is patently ridiculous. Apparently somehow this leads into a monster, but I’m not sure if the missiles create the monster, or if they encounter the monster on the way to where they need to shoot the missiles.

I know I’ve seen Walter Pidgeon in something, but I think the only thing is Forbidden Planet, which is completely overshadowed in my memory by showing Leslie Nielson in a serious role.

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Million Dollar Duck

Million Dollar Duck. Walt Disney Productions 1971.

Before watching the movie:

There’s a tendency for the family comedies Disney made in the 50s-70s to blend together, unless they reached you early enough to trigger nostalgia. At this point, it’s hard to say if that’s the classics rising to the top, or one generation passing their nostalgia to the next.

This is not one of the well-known ones. At least, I only learned about it by finding it on a shelf. It stars Dean Jones, but so does almost every movie Disney made back then. Disney’s stable of reliable actors reminds me these days of the contract system of the Golden Age of Cinema, where actors contracted to do so many movies of whatever kind they were assigned to with the same studio before they were free to leave or renew their contract, which also created a kind of repertory effect.

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The Astronaut Farmer

The Astronaut Farmer. Spring Creek Pictures 2006.

Before watching the movie:

What I’m most interested in about this story of an ex-astronaut who had to quit NASA to save the farm, but then decides to build his own rocket, is how the movie makes it plausible that one man can build a rocket on his own. The farm must be doing really well to be able to afford that kind of DIY equipment.

It’s meant as a feel-good story about Following Your Dreams™, but it’s just about the most extreme way to depict it. Solo rocketry projects are most likely to end up with the hobbyist spread across the landscape, no matter how much of an expert in engineering the rocketeer is.

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