Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000

0 out of 5 snowstones

Several years ago, in the cinema, I watched a trailer for a new science fiction movie.It starred John Travolta and was, the bellowing announcer informed me, "based on one of the most successful science-fiction novels ever made". Throughout the rest of the trailer, I kept wondering which book it might be, and especially who wrote it. I had to squint my eyes at the end to read the name of none other than L. Ron Hubbard, the inventor of that freakiest of cult religions, Scientology.
Yesterday, "Battlefield Earth" aired on TV and I started watching it, trying to find out what Travolta (who also produced the movie), a self-confessed Scientologist had done with his mentor's book. The answer: he'd turned it into the most successful anti-Hubbard campaigns ever produced. This movie is so amazingly bad that it's a miracle that Travolta is still taken seriously in Hollywood.
I've seen a lot of movies in my life, and I know that there are various elements in a movie that work together to produce the end result. If the acting is lousy, the script might still be decent; great editing and cinematography can often save a basically bland storyline.
It is rare, then, to see a major Hollywood film failing in absolutely every respect:
  • Acting: The acting is ludicrous, and the best proof for this is not even Travolta himself, hamming like there's no tomorrow, but all the other actors and (surprisingly few) actresses, none of whom I'd heard of before. And for good reason.
  • Script: Aliens called Psychlos have taken over our entire planet in 9 minutes, but after 1000 years of oppressing the humans (or "man-animals" as they call them), they still haven't stripped the planet clear of gold, which is for some reason extremely valuable to them. The humans, reduced to a caveman existence, manage to stage a revolt that involves destroying the entire Psychlo homeworld (demonstrating what is so quintessentially human about the human race: their ability to rise up from oppression and nuke the hell out of their oppressors).
  • Editing: In a traditional movie, tilting a camera indicates confusion, things being "out of whack". Apparently "Battlefield Earth" is full of confusion, because virtually every shot is taken at an angle.
  • Cinematography: This movie is shot almost entirely in the dark, which combines with the bad editing to produce a confusing jumble: half the time, you have no idea what the hell is going on.
  • Costumes: These aliens look totally ridiculous, wearing rastafari hairstyles and sporting breathing apparatuses that look like nipple clamps with tentacles.
I really, honestly can't say anything in this movie's defense, except of course for its unintentional hilarity. Seeing Travolta cackle in villainous glee, or hearing him say "Crap-lousy ceiling! I thought I told to get some man-animals in here and fix it" is truly campy entertainment at its best.

Posted by cronopio at 01:32 PM, September 09, 2005