Battlefield Earth Movie Review

There are two things the American film industry should avoid at all costs. One is letting an ambitious actor convert one of his or her favorite novels into a feature film. Two is never greenlight a sci-fi film starring John Travolta. To wit, we present the disaster that is Battlefield Earth.

A science-fiction opus starring the Barbarino of the Actors Guild, Battlefield Earth should be shown only at maximum-security prisons when a prisoner is tossed in solitary for bad behavior. Sci-fi is always a tricky beast: Tight script, a good director, an ensemble cast of decent actors, and the ability to suspend even the most difficult of disbeliefs. Battlefield Earth fails at achieving even one of these attributes.

Here's the "plot." The year is 3000. Mankind has been become an endangered species thanks to the conquest of a race of aliens called the Psychlos (sounds like either the latest clown act from Cirque de Soleil or a white rap group). A small band of humans dwell in radioactive caves located in the Rockies in fear of the "demons" who dwell in the cities below. The Psychlos are strip-mining the Earth for its resources and Terl, played by Travolta, is the head of security for the mining/slave base located in Denver.

A young rogue named Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, played with dramatic flair by Barry Pepper, ventures from the safety of the caves into the city to uncover the truth about the "demons." He is promptly captured and taken to the alien base. After several attempts at escape, Johnnie is placed in the middle of an underhanded subplot of Terl's, involving circumventing gold from an exposed vein in the Rockies to his own end. Jonnie, assumed leader of the mining slave group, then manages to attain all Psychlo and human intelligence through a learning machine Terl forces him to use. Then the story just runs along until Jonnie teaches the rest of the humans the basics of trigonometry, the Bill of Rights, how to use a machine gun, and how to fly a Harrier jet. The whole mess concludes with a big, loud, obnoxious gun-and-plane battle that had me praying for the end credits.

Roger Christian, the director of this lumbering beast, must have rented Dune, Blade Runner, Planet of the Apes, Independence Day, Stargate, Beastmaster, the Airwolf episodes, the "V" miniseries, The Matrix, and The Omega Man... and decided to steal every scene he could for Battlefield Earth. Christian even shoots every scene in a weird Dutch angle titled left or right for every frame of the movie! And every scene in the movie ends with a middle wipe -- really.

The Psychlos reminded me of a cross between Jamaican basketball players with bad teeth and bloated hands and Klingon extras working the Star Trek convention circuit. Travolta's acting hasn't been this bad since The Experts or maybe Perfect. Jonnie Goodboy Tyler evolves into William Wallace with lines like "You can have your freedom if you fight!" Then there's the script: The film just never convinces you that the plight of Jonnie in teaching his fellow humans to fight and "take back the planet" would be a difficult task to achieve. Why? Because Terl provides all the necessary tools to incite a revolt -- for no particular reason beside the fact that "humans are stupid."

Terel may be right, you know. Humans made this movie.

All hail the codpiece of John Travolta!


Comments

Battlefield Earth Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: PG-13, 2000

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