Reviewed by: Emmett W. Elliott
|Featuring||John Travolta, Kim Coates, Barry Pepper, Sabine Karsenti, Forest Whitaker|
|Producer||John Travolta, Jonathan D. Krane, Elie Samaha|
“Battlefield Earth” is a sci-fi special effects dependent action flick adapted from the book of the same title by L. Ron Hubbard, whose novels formed the foundation for the Church of Scientology. The movie denigrates human life, and contains some foul language and excessive senseless violence. The sonic-booming soundtrack distracts from the action sequences. Compound the noise with the numerous flashy effects, tilted camera angles, and an irrational screenplay, and you may empty the aisle with a migraine.
Director Roger Christian presents the post-apocalyptic tale about primitive humans staging a revolt against their evil alien oppressors. In the year 2000, the alien “Psychlos” conquered Earth destroying most of God’s creation. The movie picks up in the year 3000. Earth remains a vast wasteland, and humanity exists on the brink of extinction surviving as spear-carrying hunters and gatherers or as slaves to the sinister Psychlos.
The hero of the movie is the grunting Johnnie (Barry Pepper) who abandons his female, Chrissie (Sabine Karsenti), to see the world. Along the way, Johnnie encounters fellow scantily clad hunters: Rock (Michel Perron) and Carlo (Kim Coates). They are quickly captured by the Psychlos and compelled to labor in the “Human Processing Center.” While in captivity, Johnnie assumes the role of Moses to deliver the human slaves from the bondage of Pharaoh. I mean from the bondage of the disgruntled chief of security and Psychlo road scholar, Terl (John Travolta).
As “fate” would have it, Terl’s ridiculous executive assistant Ker (Forest Whitaker) detects a gold deposit in Colorado. They withhold this discovery from their superior, Zete (Michael Micrea), and devise a treacherous plan: instead of using Psychlo labor use the “rat-brains” to mine the gold since no Psychlo would suspect such a stupid endeavor. To teach the “man-animals” how to mine, Terl beams a Psychlo education into Johnnie’s brain. Johnnie receives too much knowledge, however, after Terl drops him off at the Denver Public Library where Johnnie is left to read a copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence!
Johnnie’s newly acquired information amounts to a single human’s evolutionary leapfrog over the Psychlos. He outwits the Psychlos by organizing the humans to gain “leverage” over Terl. While the crude humans gather enough “leverage” to win the battle between the survival of the fittest, Johnnie buys them valuable preparation time. Instead of the humans having to mine for the gold, Johnnie simply flies out to Fort Knox where countless bars of gold await him.
The nonsense proceeds at an exponential rate. For example, Terl informs Johnnie that the Psychlos annihilated Earth’s defenses in a measly nine minutes. Later in the movie, Johnnie locates a military base full of pristine fighter jets with ample firepower to combat the improved technology of the Psychlos! Never mind boot camp, the scruffy revolutionaries become flying aces within a mere seven days of “learning machine” training! The laughable revolution unfolds at warp speed as loincloth wearing “man-animals” repeatedly proclaim “piece-uh-cake” throughout the final battle.
Travolta may hope for a toned down sci-fi version of “Pulp Fiction,” but the awkward stilt-walking Psychlos (complete with decayed teeth, vampiric press-on nails, and facial stubble) are so uncool sporting dreadlocks and nose-clamps that the gorillas from “Planet of the Apes” remain more credible captors. Add all of the silliness together and “Battlefield Earth” is a solid contender to win the dubious distinction for being the “Wild Wild West” of the year 2000. The movie relies completely on special effects, but the grossly flawed plot mutates the big bang of “Battlefield Earth” into a galactic dud. Now, where did this “rat-brain” place his aspirin?