Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard) is an astronaut sent on the last of America's deep space missions in 1987. He's frozen for 500 years until a ship from the Draconian Empire finds him and tows his shuttle inside. He's revived and meets Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley) and her first in command, Kane (Henry Silva). They think he's a spy sent from Earth so they pack him back into his ship and send him on his way. They've also put a tracker on his vehicle so they can find the path through Earth's defenses. You see, they are not really coming for a peaceful mission, they want to conquer the planet. Earth, now barely able to support life, gets most of its food from other planets and pirates have been attacking the food runs. The Draconians have offered help in return of landing privileges on the planet.
When Buck gets closer to Earth he encounters fighter ships led by Col. Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) who threaten to blast him out of the sky. However, they take him back to headquarters to question him. He meets Dr. Huer and encounters Wilma again. Of course, they think he's a spy and he has to convince them otherwise. He makes friends with Doctor Theopolis, an artificial intelligence who looks like a giant pocket watch, and a robot drone, Twiki, whose job it is seems to be making sarcastic asides. They tell him that it's the 25th Century, which is a bit of a shock. Buck wants to explore beyond this new city and they warn him that the rest of the world is a wasteland. He goes anyway and walks into a devastated old Chicago. As soon as night falls the human mutants come out and attack him, right after he visits the gravesite of his long-dead parents. Then, just in time, he's rescued by Wilma and her soldiers.
Buck wants to prove his innocence and again warns Earth about the Draconian's plans of invasion. To prove this, the gets invited aboard the Draconia by Princess Ardala. It happens during a weird, 80-'s type dance party in which she's dressed like a white buffalo. Once he gets on board and she's ready to have sex with him he drugs her-and takes off. He quickly discovers that the pirates that have been attacking the earth supply runs are really Draconian fighters and this peace talk was always a ruse. So he goes about sabotaging the fighters by placing bombs in their tailpipes. Once the invasion starts they are screwed-and Col Wilma and the earth forces manage to win. However, Ardala and Kane manage to escape back to one of her father's ships.
This movie is entertaining, though extremely cheesy and simple on plot. The special effects reminded me of the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series, which makes sense since Glen A Larson is the producer. There's also this really weird, James Bond type title sequence that's really out of place. However, it is an enjoyable flick. Recommended.