Quote from Battlefield Earth from Terl : “Well, I can assure you that I was not groomed since birth to have some cushy job that even a moron like you could perform. While you were still learning how to SPELL YOUR NAME, I was being trained to conquer GALAXIES! To do anything less is a disgrace to my entire family line.”
I’ve seen some bad movies in my lifetime, and this will go down as one of the lesser than movies I put my eyes through. Being this is adapted from the book written by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, I figured it would be a tad wacky and wasn’t expecting great cinema. I was correct by the time the credits rolled. This goes into the category of so bad, it’s funny and somewhat entertaining. The movie could’ve gone through another wash cycle to get rid of the excess dirt it carried. It had promise, but lacked the fine tuning needed to push it to the next level. There aren’t any major spoilers in this review, but there isn’t much to spoil.
Battlefield Earth is written by L. Ron Hubbard (book) and Corey Mandell and J.D. Shapiro (screenplay). The fact the book is 1,050 pages long makes me believe Hubbard is a wordy writer and the screenwriters probably did not stray too far away from the dialogue either. It is directed by Roger Christian and produced by Ashok Amritraj, Don Carmody, Anson Downs, Linda Favila, James Holt, Jonathan D. Krane, Elie Samaha, Tracee Stanley, Andrew Stevens, and John Travolta. The main cast includes John Travolta as Terl, Barry Pepper as Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, Forest Whitaker as Ker, Kim Coates as Carlo, Sabine Karsenti as Chrissy, Michael Byrne as Parson Staffer, Richard Tyson as Robert the Fox, Kelly Preston as Chirk, Jason Cavalier as Floyd, Sean Hewitt as Heywood, and Jim Meskimen as Blythe. The MPAA rating is PG-13 for intense sci-fi action. It is 1 hour and 58 minutes long. It is produced by Warner Bros., Morgan Creek Entertainment, Franchise Pictures, JTP Films, Battlefield Productions, and Mel’s Cite du Cinema. Battlefield Earth is a sci-fi movie about the battle for power between tall aliens and normal humans in the year 3000 on Earth.
Battlefield Earth takes place on Earth, pretty much void of humans as we know them today. The few remaining are hiding in order not to be enslaved by the Psychlos, tall aliens with dreadlocks. It isn’t until one of them, Jonnie Goodboy, leaves home and searches for something, anything besides what he already knows which appears to be a boring existence. There’s only so many campfire stories you can tell. He is accompanied by a hunter, Carlo, and into their exploration, they come face to face with the Psychlos. They are brought to their camp where they meet the leader, Terl, and his right hand Psychlo, Ker. In order to land back in the good graces of his superiors, Terl must bring something to the table. He sends Jonnie Boy, Carlo, and other slaves on a mission to find gold. It is in Fort Knox the humans prepare for a mission of their own. When they return to the Psychlos, Jonnie and the other slaves assert their dominance in a battle. This movie is the first half of the book. There was supposed to be a sequel, but due to the poor ratings and low box office earnings, it was never made.
This movie was supposed to be a sci-fi success. It wasn’t in many respects. I still don’t understand what John Travolta meant by likening it to Schindler’s List. If was supposed to have emotional elements in it, the overacting and laughable dialogue blew any chance of that happening. Forest Whitaker and John Travolta are good actors. Barry Pepper and Kim Coates can hold their own too, but there was little any of them could do to make it better. I kept thinking what a waste of talent every time Whitaker opened his mouth. The story was more bare than beefy and should have gone through another rewrite. The repetitive middle-wipes were distracting, and it was clear there was a small budget as the special effects were neglected. For taking place in the year 3000, certain things did not correspond. If Earth had been stripped of its resources for a while, why would there be stacks upon stacks of gold bricks? Wouldn’t someone have already found it? It seemed to be added for convenience. There had been talk of its connection to Scientology and its subliminal messages. I don’t know much about this religion so I can’t comment on it, but either way, Battlefield Earth missed its center target by a long shot.
I’m torn in fully recommending this movie because I feel you should give most any movie a chance. I rate it BAD in terms of an overall production value because there was so much more that could have been done to make it better for the viewer. If the screenwriters were told to mirror the story and not diverge from it, they made the wrong choice. There were holes that could have been filled in to make the story stronger if it wasn’t in the original. I’m also torn because who am I to rip into L. Ron Hubbard’s writing success because any writer who writes from the heart is a good thing. But, revision does a story good too, and I’m guessing the book needed filler in some areas and subtraction in others. So, yes, I do recommend this as so bad it’s a tolerable movie. Like John Travolta emphasized, he made this for the fans and not the critics.
I rate Battlefield Earth BAD at 67%.