In honor of my father-in-law, a retired professor of astronomy, this week we will spend exploring our solar system in the movies. Today we will visit our home planet Earth. Battlefield Earth is currently available on instant Netflix.
AVOID: Battlefield Earth (2000) – Rated PG-13 for adult content, adult language and violence.
“In the year 2000, an alien race known as the Psychlos devastated Earth and turned it into a wasteland. In the year 3000, the aliens — led by the horrific Terl (John Travolta) — still hold the surviving human population hostage and have forced Earthlings into slavery. But when human Johnny Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) discovers the aliens major weakness and leads the final fight for Earths survival, the parasitic Psychlos are in for a shock.”
“I am sorry – the gods took your father in the night.”
“I am sorry. I cannot take you Chrissy.”
I am so sorry if you had the misfortune of seeing this film.
First off the official title is Battlefield Earth – A Saga of the Year 3000. How positively generic. If you still did not get it then the first text onscreen is “Man is an endangered species”. The alien race are Psychlos so you know they are not good. Our hero is Jonny Goodboy Tyler. I understand that subtlety is not a strong suit for many but this is some serious overkill.
This film is sooooooo bad. I have not read the book by L. Ron Hubbard but this inane plot had to have come from somewhere so he definitely has to share the blame. Especially since they rejected the screenplay written by J.D. Shapiro as not being faithful enough to the book.
They have a deus ex machina in an alien device that teaches Jonny not only to speak Psychlo but also teaches him (and this had me laughing hysterically) Euclidian geometry (among other things). So apparently after Euclid, a Greek, developed geometry, he must have left the planet to teach the aliens geometry since they named theirs after Euclid as well.
There is another real head-scratcher as well. Perhaps it is better explained in the book but there is no indication that the alien device would teach Jonny how to read English (or that he would have time to do so after being shown a human repository of knowledge). Strangely Jonny knows that gold was stored a thousand years ago in Fort Knox.
Another character – a human savage – refers to something as “a piece of cake”. Really? Terl refers to the humans constantly as “man animals”. Do we refer to elephants as “elephant animals”?
Jonny teaches the other savages how to fly jets (I swear I am not making this up) by using a simulator from a thousand years ago (still not sure what power source it uses). Oh and he does this in a week – obviously our Air Force spends far too much on training. This is so they can properly use the 1,000 year old jets with 1,000 year old jet fuel in them.
Please note that these jets were completely ineffective in 2000 at the time of the Psychlo invasion. In fact, Terl states that humanity put up a fight for only nine minutes.
Battlefield Earth swept the Razzies in 2001. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Actor – John Travolta, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Supporting Actress – Kelly Preston. The only reason Forest Whitaker did not win his Worst Supporting Actor nomination was that Barry Pepper won it by being even worse. The most amusing Razzie was that Battlefield Earth won Worst Couple – John Travolta and anyone sharing the screen with him.
In 2005 Battlefield Earth won a Razzie for Worst Drama of Our First 25 Years. It won again in 2010 for Worst Picture of the Decade and Worst Actor of the Decade – John Travolta. At the Razzies, Battlefield Earth was referred to as Plan 9 from L. Ron Hubbard.
What happened to John Travolta? He made a fabulous career comeback in 1994 with Pulp Fiction. He had some great roles right after that in Get Shorty, Broken Arrow, Phenomenon and Michael. He did an excellent nuanced Clinton impersonation in Primary Colors (1998).
Then Travolta went kablooey. He was abominable here, awful in Swordfish, dreadful in Domestic Disturbance, and cringe-worthy in the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. He even revisited (poorly) his character of Chili Palmer from Get Shorty in the sequel Be Cool.
I think I could write an entire week on just the different facets of this awful movie. AVOID at all costs!
People Watch: Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta and fellow Scientologist, has a brief but painfully funny role as Chirk.