In 2016, a remake of the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven, itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai, was released to moderate success, but it remade the wrong movie. When a notorious outlaw and his caballeros threaten a small border town, village farmers set out to find gunslingers that will protect them, and seven infamous characters led by Denzel Washington’s Sam Chisholm and Chris Pratt’s Josh Faraday agree to answer their call. Each man has a distinct personality and backstory, as well as a reason for choosing to go up against an army of fighters outnumbered and outgunned.
Both Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and the original Magnificent Seven are considered classics of their eras, even though one takes place in feudal Japan and the other in the American West. The narrative device of a motley yet experienced group of individuals taking on a huge swarm of organized adversaries has been used many times across multiple genres, making it a timeless story. The simple elegance of its plot makes it transferable to any period, including the ’80s when sci-fi and fantasy usurped Westerns as the dominant genre in Hollywood, and one movie in particular tried to engineer it into something new.
Battle Beyond The Stars Was An Unofficial Magnificent Seven Remake
Battle Beyond The Stars was a space adventure that was released in 1980 after the success of Star Wars, itself based on Kurosawa’s The Forbidden Fortress, and hoped to capitalize on the interest in classic sci-fi movies, and the intergalactic conflict, dogfighting spaceships, and fascinating aliens they provided. The movie was essentially The Magnificent Seven in space, right down to Robert Vaughn, who played the dandified (but cowardly) gunslinger Lee in the ’64 version playing a version of the same character. With special effects by James Cameron, music by James Horner, and an extensive amount of world-building, it seemed poised to be a huge hit, but budget constraints and corny dialogue hobbled its success.
Like Star Wars, the movie was a Space Western, and focused on a young man named Shad (Richard Thomas) trying to recruit fighters from across the galaxy to protect his peaceful home planet from a ruthless warlord. Together with a pilot named Cowboy (George Peppard), reclusive gunslinger Gelt (Vaughn), and a cohort of androids, he goes to war against Lord Sador (John Saxon) and his armada. Beyond comparisons to Star Wars, Kurosawa movies, and The Magnificent Seven movie, it infused its story with extra shenanigans, like Sador promising his mutant followers the gift of eternal life via grafting the organs and limbs of their victims to their bodies.
A Battle Beyond The Stars Remake Would’ve Been Better Than The Magnificent Seven
Given Battle Beyond The Stars’ mediocre budget, bad script, and general B-movie quality, it had great potential to be a solid sci-fi remade, unlike The Magnificent Seven. The latter had already been considered a classic, and a generic paint-by-numbers remake didn’t offer anything new to the story. The only elements that improved it overall were more diversity in the cast and a few grander action sequences, but other than that, The Magnificent Seven itself didn’t have enough differences, unlike Battle Beyond The Stars.
The Magnificent Seven wasn’t as popular as it could have been, whereas a brand new Battle Beyond The Stars would have felt less like a remake and more like an entirely new sci-fi extravaganza. Other than a few memorable scenes and some interesting props courtesy of Cameron, it got lost among other contenders for the Star Wars spotlight, but if it could be remade today, it would actually stand out, and maybe even have enough material to be developed into a franchise itself.
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