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BATTLEFIELD EARTH

SYNOPSIS:
In the year 3000, Earth has been conquered by the giant Psychlos. Exterminated to the point of extinction, mankind’s survivors live in caves; their sticks and rocks no match for the Psychlos’ advanced technology. One man, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, (Barry Pepper) decides living in the wilderness is not for him. He’s soon captured by Psychlos and taken to their massive dome, built in the ruins of Denver, where he comes to the attention of Terl (John Travolta) head of security at the compound and Ker (Forest Whitaker), his subordinate. Terl has been refused a transfer back to the home planet and hatches a plan to use the humans to obtain gold, which he can then use as "leverage". But Tyler sees a chance for freedom.

"Made with the misguided passion only true believers can muster, this adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard’s novel can only (kindly) be described as a monumental folly. Battlefield Earth is facile in so many ways, it’s almost pointless to even discuss them. Roger Christian directs the movie in a such a dull way, most of the scenes wouldn’t cut it on Australia’s Funniest Home Videos. But when combined with the genuinely hokey script, they do make for some hilarious viewing - actually akin to watching people fall off bikes. John Travolta and Forest Whitaker spend the film looking like second rate Wookies (Chewbacca should sue) and sprouting incredibly inane lines with as much conviction as they can muster. The scriptwriters didn’t bother attempting to overcome the credibility problems in the plot (just one to think about - the cavemen learn to fly a sophisticated fighter plane in a week; why are we spending so much money on training pilots?) and make no pretence of insulting the audience’s intelligence. Much of the film looks like it was shot in a garbage dump and the sound is so over-tweaked, it’s like a jumbo jet landing whenever a door is opened on-screen. Barry Pepper, terrific as the Bible quoting sharpshooter in Saving Private Ryan, is entirely wasted here. I feel most sorry for Forest Whitaker though - from the Ghost Dog to this?! There have been some pretty bad movies this year, but Battlefield Earth will set the standard for bad movies for years to come - perhaps even till the year 3000."
David Edwards

"As a scholar and lover of science fiction film, I know too well the genre can soar to unimaginable heights (2001, Blade Runner) and sink to below the ocean (Waterworld, Lost in Space, the recent Supernova). Touted "the worst movie of all time," I entered Battlefield Earth positively cringing at the prospect of trouncing another mega-budget Hollywood sci-fi. Armageddon, Mission to Mars, anyone? With good intentions and rock bottom expectations, I’m pleased to report this wasn’t THAT bad. Not good. Not even mixed. But certainly not the worst film of all time. It’s uninvolving formulaic nonsense, but fancy costumes, elaborate action scenes, and satisfactory special effects make it a blast - for boys under 12. Really, what they were thinking? Attempting to translate L. Ron Hubbard’s 800-page fantasy into a dazzling, cohesive 117-minute film was always going to be difficult. Worse still, Travolta drove the project for the most part of ten years because Hubbard, founding father of the Church of Scientology, changed his life in the 70s. Like its post-apocalyptic companion, Planet of the Apes, Battlefield presents a simple premise; earthlings are no longer the dominant species, and like Planet’s organised apes, Battlefield’s Psychlos (kind of like tall Klingons) enslave and mistreat the humans until the humans challenge the status quo. Pepper is unconvincing as the grunting hero – gratuitously named Jonnie Goodboy – who discovers a way to sever the Psychlo’s hold over the planet. Travolta’s Terl, a cross between Star Trek’s Worf and Milli Vanilli, is a gross caricature of villainy with a pathetically fake "Ha-ha- har" laugh, while his lackey, Ker (Whitaker) fares little better. It’s obvious director Roger Christian, art director of Star Wars and second-unit director on The Phantom Menace, was so bored with the project he opted for tilted angles and curtain-opening cuts between scenes to stop older audiences (i.e. over 12s) falling asleep. The inconsistencies are too numerous to mention, but most obviously, for a thousand years on, it’s hard to believe things like library books, shop mannequins, working flight simulators, and armed fighter jets would survive. Perhaps Travolta’s stocks are about to plummet again. Hopefully he’ll use his newly acquired ‘leverage’ (don’t ask…) to abandon plans for a sequel."
Shannon J. Harvey

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

BATTLEFIELD EARTH (M)
(US)

CAST: John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker

DIRECTOR: Roger Christian

PRODUCER: Elie Samaha, Jonathan Krane, John Travolta

SCRIPT: Corey Mandell (based on L.Ron Hubbard's novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Giles Nuttgens

EDITOR: Robin Russell
VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: Erik Henry

MUSIC: Elia Cmiral

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Patrick Tatopoulos

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 28, 2000







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