Dir: Roger Christian (nope, me neither...)
iMDB rating: 2.4
First, apologies for anyone expecting Blubberella. I'm still trying to find a copy that is not dubbed into Russian (it seems as though Russians enjoy watching fat women kill Nazis).
But I promised a review so here it is....
Battlefield Earth is a sci-fi. I am not keen on sci-fi as a rule. I have no strong feelings toward Star Wars, I kind of liked the new Star Trek movies and Mac and Me was a complete let down (although it, curiously, isn't in the bottom 100). So I wasn't really looking forward to this before I watched.
I do, however, enjoy Forest Whittaker and (sometimes) John Travolta as performers. Remember, Whitaker is an Oscar-winning actor (The Last King of Scotland). Travolta has been nominated twice (Pulp Fiction and Saturday Night Fever). He also flies planes. Which is cool!
Overall then, I have some mixed feelings. I'm looking forward to some OK acting from the leads, yet a pretty poor plot.
The year is 3000. Humans are dumb as shit! Not only did they let themselves get taken over by an alien race 1000 years ago, they also managed to have regressed into a near primitive-like state since then (including whooping, jumping around and using their hands as kitchen utensils). It's a bit like watching Planet of the Apes in reverse.
The aliens in question are the Pscyhlos. A bunch of hairy, 10 feet tall, dreadlocked, codpiece-wearing humanoids who cannot (repeat CANNOT) breathe the Earth's air. So, an alien species that cannot breathe our atmosphere conquers the planet? Um, ok.
A few humans do still exist. In the Star Wars-esque opening narrative screen roll, we are told that a small group of them are 'hiding in pockets, in radiation, [and] they are on the verge of extinction'. Well perhaps, fellas, you want to get away from all of that pesky radiation if you don't want to be extinct!
Our main human character leaves his compound and sets out to an old crazy-golf course in which he attacks a plastic dragon. Yep, really. He then learns that the dragon isn't real. He is then set upon by a pair of spear-wielding strangers who demand food or they will kill him. He very quickly makes friends with them. They set off to an abandoned mall and discuss the fact that mannequins are actually the burnt out husks of people from a thousand years ago. They don't know what a mannequin is - remember that, it will be important later.
Suddenly, they are set upon by one of the Space-Rastas. They are captured and taken to downtown Denver which is the human processing centre. It turns out that the Psychlos are not very nice (because the name sounds a bit like 'psycho'. Think about it for a while....). They push a few of the humans around, but seem very reluctant to do them any real harm. Oh yeah, and at this point we have to guess the fact that Denver is covered by a large dome that will help the aliens - but not the humans - breathe.
At this point of the movie, I had to go and get some peanut butter. I'm not sure why, but it helped.
Our main human guns down a random alien and as a result, we are introduced to Travolta's character who calls himself
Now, Terl has been on Earth for a long time, and he has some lovely things to say about it such as it is disgusting, dirty and he doesn't like Pizza Hut. His boss gets teleported from the planet Psychlos (uuuurgh) and tells him that he has to stay for another 50 cycles. Which could be 50 days, months, years or decades as far as we know - either way Terl is pissed off. My first question was 'why'? And then we find out he had bonked the senator's daughter. Fair play, I say.
After getting wankered on some green booze, Terl then hatches a plan to get off Earth by having the 'human-animals' dig out all of the gold so that he can buy his way back to his planet. To show just how nasty he is, he films Ker repeating the plan back to him so if something goes wrong he can blame Ker. He then lets Ker join him in the plan and take a share of the gold. What a git!
About 45 minutes in, we still don't know the main human's name. We do know that he is a pretty good fighter and doesn't want to be kept down by the, er, alien. But because he fights back, Terl thinks he has found the right man to get the gold so (for reasons I didn't quite grasp) he teaches human dude EVERYTHING about the Psychlo race via some kind of mind rape device. Yep, everything. His language, history, where the weapons are kept.... Oh, and he also teaches him how to operate nuclear warheads, fly alien aircraft, read maps, use advanced mathematics and plan sophisticated double-crosses. Basically, he gives him all of the tools to defeat him except for the actual weapons.
But wait..... there's more.....
Terl then takes human-dude to an old museum and shows him what humans used to have which entails a statue of Abraham Lincoln and the Deceleration of Independence (I think that symbolises freedom, or something...). Terl then shows human-dude the fact that he has human-dude's girlfriend captured and she has an explosive device around her neck (thank you Fortress and Battle Royale) which will go off if he doesn't agree to everything. Human-dude agrees.
The humans, meanwhile, hatch a cunning plan: they will make the aliens think that they are digging for gold when actually only half of them are - the other half are going to get gold from Fort Knox to make the aliens think that they have been digging for gold. Errrr, peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter.
Some of the group go to Washington D.C. - 'the capital city of our tribes' - because it is where the nation's history is buried, including a map showing which parts of the US are radiated. Back at the camp, human-dude tells his fellow human-dudes that they have to fight back and reclaim the planet. And they will do this with a very big arsenal of assorted heavy artillery. Which they know exactly where to find because........ yeah, I really don't know, but the next scene has them barging into Fort Hood, Texas to find a lovely pile of well-preserved, fully equipped, incredibly dustless 1000 year old weapons. Including what appears to be a fully fueled fleet of F-25s.
Now, remember how I said that the humans didn't know what a mannequin was? Well, our main human-dude (who was taught about everything by Terl) takes it on himself to teach them all how to dismantle nuclear devices, fly fighter planes and shoot guns. In one week. From fucking idiots to nuclear scientists in seven days. I have to check out this scientology stuff.
Human-dude manages to trick Terl into thinking that gold comes out of the Earth in perfect bar form after presenting him with the gold from Fort Knox (the scene where they get it must be in the deleted scenes section of the DVD). Terl then regales human-dude about the time when the Psychlos defeated the human race in about nine minutes. Human-dude brings up some stuff about the Deceleration of Independence - because 'Murica.
After a week of really hard training, the humans finally fight back in their F-25s and destroy the dome covering Denver via sacrifice of one of the humans flying a plane (I either forget his name, or we just didn't get told). All the aliens, who have been living under one big dome in Denver, Colorado instead of spreading themselves around the globe, snuff it. But that is not enough!!! Human-dude gets a teleportation device and sends a couple of nukes back to planet Psychlon, committing nothing short of genocide as every last one is vaporised.
Except for Terl and Ker who now can apparently breathe human air. The former ends up in jail in Fort Knox surrounded by gold (because he was greedy for gold, just in case you missed that moral nugget); Ker, on the other hand, helps the humans rebuild society. The humans (I'm guessing) keep talking about gods and use the nuclear weapons and warplanes to destroy each other (NOTE: that was not the ending of the film, but I think it would have been better that way).
Overall, the plot is so convoluted that it borders on stupidity, and there are just way too many holes for this to make sense.
All in all, I didn't give one shit about any of the humans.
The main guy (whose name is Johnny - apparently not important information). is played by Barry 'The Sniper from Saving Private Ryan' Pepper. The acting here is pretty awful, I must say. But not half as bad as the other nameless humans who have screen time of about 3 minutes each. Utterly forgettable characters.
The Psychlons, on the other hand are wonderfully camp and cheesy - a good bit of comic relief after the human misery machines. They have wonderful character names like Terl, Ker, Bartender, One-eyed guard and (my favourite) Psychlo babe.
Travolta hams it up in a style I haven't seen since Broken Arrow (god, I wish Christian Slater were in this movie......
Whitaker, unfortunately, looks bored. He plods from one scene to the next as a string along to Travolta. He finally musters up a smidge of acting at the end, but too little too late.
The rest are just background noise. Seriously, some really forgettable performances. All in all, the acting by Travolta was every bit as overdone as we can imagine. I'm not saying it was good, but at least he had a bit of charisma which is unlike the rest of the characters.
Many critics see this as a scientology film, and giving that it was written as a novel by class-A nutjob L. Ron Hubbard and funded by a few million of Travolta's own cash then it's not hard to see why. I don't know much about Scientology, but the basic belief is that humans have lost contact with who they once were (like the humans in this movie) and they have to regain that through some form of..... well, science I guess. I really don't know and this movie is so lacking in inspiration, I can't even be bothered to look on Wikipedia.
I saw it as a sort of allegory of corporations enslaving the little man to get rich (the Psychlos refer to their organisation as 'the corporation' and their home planet as 'head office'). If this is true, then it is one of the most lazy pieces of symbolism that I have ever witnessed.
The direction was a shambles with weird, unnecessary camera angles, even stranger colour filters (grey to green to brown to purple) and way too many screen swipes and slow motion scenes. It was as if he was a kid who had just discovered Instagram and is learning how to put his pictures on PowerPoint. By the way, the director was set-designer and second unit director on a few of the Star Wars movie.
Speaking of which, the FX in this weren't as bad as everyone makes out. They look like they could be from early ILM, and are no worse than Lucas' reissue of Star Wars. So credit where it is due, right?
Would I recommend this film?
Unless you are a scientologist and then go nuts.
It is basically a piece of self-indulgent, unnecessary propaganda for a pretty loopy belief system.
If you really have nothing else to watch...... go and talk to someone.
Except John Travolta.
Or Tom Cruise for that matter.