View Full Version : VIDEO CAPSULE: Battlefield Earth (3.5/10)
the night watchman
02-15-2001, 09:50 PM
"Battlefield Earth": you've seen it all before, but never with Travolta in dreads
If you have seen, say, around seven science-fiction movies, you will have probably already witnessed everything "Battlefield Earth" has to offer. Fortunately, most people seem to prefer the derivative and unoriginal over the new and surprising. It's the only reason I have to explain the popularity of the novel this movie was based on.
Of course, being a big fan of genre movies in general, I would be a hypocrite to level a criticism at anything just because it lacks as a sparking example of human creativity. But I suppose if it's going to be stale in content, it should at least be inspired in presentation, don't you think?
The movie "Battlefield Earth" is, in reality, based on only half of L. Ron Hubbard's 1000+ page pulp SF novel. (Do I sense a sequel on the horizon? Will they abbreviated it, appropriately, "BFE-2"?) It takes place in the year 3000, and concerns the story of one Jonnie Goodboy Tyler coming down from the mountains and discovering that humans weren't always a dying race of cowering cave-people, but were once highly technological and sophisticated. We lost our dominant position on the planet when a species of huge space aliens known as the Psychlos, armed with superior weapons and aggression, wiped us out in nine minutes in order to strip-mine our planet for gold. (Yes, gold. There's something disappointingly unscience-fictiony about gold, isn't there?) Jonnie, a wily cuss, unites humanity and organizes a revolt against the Psychlos from their outpost here on earth. It's a long book with massive amounts of plot, so it's considered an epic.
I always figured Jonnie to be the fountainhead for Scientology, like Howard Roark is for Ayn Rand's Objectivism. Most Scientologists say no. One way or the other, you wouldn't be able to tell from the movie, since the star here is clearly the villain, Terl, the outpost's chief of security, who is played by John Travolta. Travolta, who also co-produced the movie. In the book the Psychlos are immense orange-furred brutes. In the movie, they are essentially Klingons (remember, familiarity is better than originality.) Travolta is fun to watch, as he often is when he plays villains. He's obviously thrown himself into the role with enthusiastic gusto. He has weak, silly lines (Terl insults Jonnie by calling him "rat-brain," and when he's disappointed with something he refers to it as being "crap-lousy") but he says them with such relish we can't help but get swept up in his scenes. By the end of the movie, I was almost rooting for ole Terl. No, I was rooting for ole Terl.
Does that seem wrong? I mean, I'm human, so by default, I must root for the humans and their hero, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler. Rat-brain - excuse me - Jonnie is played by Berry Pepper, who is affable and interesting-looking with his unbelievably sharp facial features. Pepper has to act his way uphill through the entire film because, let's face it, Jonnie is a rather bland hero: noble, smart, compassionate, willing to sacrifice, etc, etc. Yawn. It's no wonder Terl steals the show; there is not one three-dimensional bone in Jonnie's flat body. Still, Pepper has an ability that behooves any actor, he is able to project emotion through expression, even when very little emotion actually exists in the script. Go, Berry, go!
The hurtle "Battlefield Earth" can't quite complete, however, is trying to compress 500 pages of dense plot into less the two hours of film. The result is an often choppy, rushed narrative that feels like a quarter of the actual movie, as though it had been pared-down in the editing room, leaving only the relevant plot-points. This nearly complete lack of transition or development winds up stunting coherency and audience involvement.
But, hey, the special effects are hecka cool, and Travolta is fun to watch. I can't imagine what fans of the novel will think, but more than likely they will by the end credits be mumbling, "Crap-lousy" like the rest of us.
3.5 / 10
[This message has been edited by the night watchman (edited 02-15-2001).]
02-16-2001, 05:37 PM
If "Battlefield Earth" is a sci-fi classic then I hate sci-fi. If "Battlefield Earth" is Travolta's best work, then I hate Travolta. If "Battlefield Earth" is a woman's p***y, than I hate p***y. (I can't believe I said that) I hope you get the picture...hey, but at least JoBlo's Movie Emporium got some publicity! Good or Bad...publicity is publicity, right?
02-16-2001, 06:01 PM
C'mon, NightMan!!!...you liked Travolta's character, you dug on Pepper's "pep" and the special effects were enjoyable...why the 3.5/10?
How much would you give INDEPENDENCE DAY? Which I believe to have ten times as many "plot holes" as this flick.
In my opinion, and yup, I believe I've repeated this several times (sorry, folks!), but for the sake of future BE watchers...the movie is just a big ol' pile of fun cheesy sci-fi jello!!
It doesn't take itself too seriously, it REALLY DOES make you root for the villain (I thought Travolta's character was one of the meanest, most arrogantly ignorant muthas out there), it's got some really cool effects and I think...a tinge of originality.
Now I'm not a Trekkie or any kind of major sci-fi fanatic, but a movie which starts off with the human race overtaken by an alien population, is kinda cool to me.
Anyway, I won't go on and on about this film, cause I honestly do see its missteps as well, but the truth is that I had a "good time" watching this movie, and I guess that's what I was looking for.
BTW, night watchman, I'm glad that AT LEAST you took the time to WATCH and CRITIQUE the film all-out, as opposed to others who go around dissin' the movie without having even seen it (not Brock, of course, I know he's seen it and hated it, but I've actually had others come up to me and say "it sucks", but without even having seen it-- "I just heard that it sucks!"). I think the film has unfortunately turned into a MAJOR "joke" at this point, but I STILL don't think that it deserves much of that.
JoBlo "fighting a losing battle"...out!
[This message has been edited by JoBlo (edited 02-16-2001).]
the night watchman
02-16-2001, 07:50 PM
My second to last paragraph reveals why I gave this flick such a low score, O King of the Schmoes. The editing, direction, heck even the position of the camera in most scenes was so shoddy it detracted from much of the fun. I'd give "ID-4" about the same score - it's a worse movie is some ways, but a least it's a competently made piece o' crap. Some movies do get the short end of the stick for no reason ("Last Action Hero" anyone?), but I think "BE" deserves all the tomatoes thrown its way.
Brock - yes, Hubbards's novel, which is the basis for this movie, is considered a sci-fi classic. Gimme Asimov or Clark any ole day.
02-17-2001, 07:05 PM
I hear ya, Night Watchman. I guess I got caught doing something that I don't particularly like people doing to me either, which is asking me to RE-ITERATE why I liked/disliked certain films, despite mentioning it all in my review in the first place!
I think it was because of the general "positive tone" of your post, but I guess "stunted coherency" is DEFINITELY not a good point for any movie! (and so are all of the other points you mentioned)
Sorry if it seemed like I was second-guessing you, cause that really wasn't my intention. It just gets tough defending a movie that has so much venom thrown at it...but hey, that's life, and luckily for all of us, we've all got a right to our own opinions, and we've also got like a million other movies to choose from...so JoBlo will shut up now! /ubb/smile.gif
02-17-2001, 08:08 PM
Just thought I'd add a little background info...
Travolta: Battlefield Earth Is A "Cult" Film
John Travolta insists his much-slammed movie Battlefield Earth (2000) will become a cult classic - like Blade Runner. In his eyes, the much-hyped science-fiction epic was not a major box-office or critical disaster. Travolta admits he was disappointed with the critical panning the film received, but was not surprised. He says, "I did my research. Critics traditionally don't like science-fiction. Many critics didn't give Alien (1979), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or Blade Runner (1982) good reviews on their initial releases, but have since revised those opinions. I feel that's going to happen with Battlefield Earth (2000) . There are already whole Internet fan sites devoted to the movie." Travolta predicts, "The movie will have as faithful a following as the novel does."
Hollywood star John Travolta lost his cool when asked about his latest film Battlefield Earth's(2000) connection to SCIENTOLOGY in Spain, where the religious group is labelled a cult. Travolta attended an interview in Barcelona, Spain to talk about his sci-fi flick. The movie is adapted from a novel by L. Ron Hubbard - founder of the Church of Scientology. But the blue-eyed actor was outraged when French journalist Frederic Benudis mentioned that a Gallic pressure group has charged the movie with containing subliminal images that promote the church. Travolta stormed out of the interview accusing the journalist of "trapping" him and demanding all record of the interview be destroyed.
Battlefield Earth Director Seems Ashamed Of Movie
Even the director of JOHN TRAVOLTA 's new movie Battlefield Earth (2000) seems to be embarrassed about the picture. The film has received heavy criticism since its release - and when director ROGER CHRISTIAN introduced the movie at its London premiere, he looked less than pleased to be associated with it. He told the audience, "This is a different sort of film. You have to remember to try and see it as a sort of comic strip. I think that's the best way to think of it."
Travolta Says He Was "Thrilled" Over Battlefield Flop
It may have been a huge flop at the box office, but John Travolta has told reporters that he has no regrets about making Battlefield Earth . As reported by today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times, Travolta told reporters this week, "I am so thrilled, believe it or not, at the outcome because I didn't believe I could get it done." Travolta also forecast that there will be a sequel.
A Sequel? Holy Shit Batman!...
the night watchman
02-17-2001, 08:29 PM
Hey, no problem, Blo. Thanks for taking the time to read and make comments. And anyway, if it's any consolation, "BE" is loads better than "Batman and Robin." And I know what you mean about defending a movie no one else likes ... I've gotten more than my share of incredulous stares when stating my fondness for a "piece o' crap" known as "Hardware."
Sometimes people just don't know how to watch a movie correctly, aye?
02-17-2001, 10:45 PM
Funny that you should mention BATMAN AND ROBIN, since that was the one movie which I specifically went out of my way...NOT TO SEE (and have yet to see it to this day!). I "kinda" got the feeling from seeing the trailer, that Schumacher had officially sold the Dark Knight out to the forces of ice-skating, crotch pads, nippled costumes and bright, bright colors!!! Ugh. I mean, has this dude EVER read a Batman comic?!?
Anyway, I swore then that I would not support the movie with my money. Okay, so my $8 doesn't really make ANY difference in the box-office, but it was the principle of the thing for me, you know.
BTW, it seems as though I've appreciated my fair share of "bombs" according to other critics, including BATTLEFIELD EARTH, LAST ACTION HERO and HUDSON HAWK, just to name a few. Oh well...as long as I can back up my points of view, or anyone else who digs on films that most others hate, I think it's all good in the hood.
07-23-2001, 09:53 AM
Sorry JoBlo, but "Battlefield Earth" was- for me- a poor man's "Planet of the Apes" minus the fun and intentional sense of humor. Travolta was unbearable to watch- it's the pinnacle of hilarious overacting. The visuals- though decent- offered nothing new (Psychlo looked just like "Blade Runner," Coruscant in "The Phantom Menace," and Planet Spaceball) in terms of production design (to art director Patrick Tutopolous- you did fantastic work on "Dark City"- why?), the costumes were horrendous, the makeup laughable, and the music (by Elia Cmiral) was good, but not great. As for the plot, how could they possibly learn to fly fighter planes in what, a couple of days? Plus, what was with all of the odd camera angles and slo-mo; even at 100 minutes, the film dragged.
Give the film this- even though the Psychlos' motivation for taking over the Earth was ridiculous, it was different for a change.
Still, it's a dredge to sit through. Not the worst sci-fi film I've ever seen, but certainly not the best.
Grade- F or 1/10
07-24-2001, 02:41 AM
Night, you also like Hardware?
Sniff, sniff... That's one of my favourite movies and nobody seems to like it. I'm glad that you did. Anyway, you probably won't see this post since you are writing your book...
07-25-2001, 02:39 PM
I recently had my first opportunity to watch Battlefield Earth. I had read so much negative crap about the movie and knew how many razzie awards the movie had earned, that I went into it expecting the absolute worst movie that I have ever seen. I will not sit here and say that it was the best movie I have ever seen, cause it sure as hell wasn't... But it also was not nearly as bad as what MOST people make it out to be. I realize there are plot holes the size of Kansas in the movie (i.e. learning to fly the planes in a couple days), and the acting is over done (but it works), but the movie still isn't as bad as it is made out to be. I think what I am saying is that if you go into it expecting the absolute worst movie that you have ever seen, it really isn't that bad! I would rate it around a 5/10. An enjoyable distraction if you check your brain at the door.
07-27-2001, 11:45 PM
Battlefield Earth ** I think on a purely campy level this movie could be enjoyed. Because frankly, this movie is simply to silly and goofy for me to hate. Yeah, the character's are about as dead as they come. But you have to have some kind of respect for Travolta whose scenery-chewing, way, over the top performance is just what the doctor ordered for this material. It's a shame Barry Pepper couldn't take his lessons whose earnest performance actually make it look like he is taking this stff serious. Also the movie has some cool specail effects, some neat air battles and deep beneath all the silliness lies a few interesting ideas. Congrats, if you can find them!
01-28-2002, 10:43 PM
God help me I loved this movie. I'll just start off with the "plot holes." The humans learning to fly in less than seven days I believe is just all in good fun. I can't believe people pan a science fiction movie for being unrealistic. It wasn't meant to be realistic.
Lets remember that this movie is in fact a comic strip with metaphoric messages. The Psychlos represented the dark side of humanity, (The psychological Psychlos) the book and film praises and mocks humanity in the same story. Terl is a cartoon villan and Jonnie is a cartoon hero. Terl's arrogance about his intelexual capacity, and his charm (that isn't really their) screws him over in the end. It's a story about how one man's (Psychlos) greed can destroy everything he once thought was important. Who would of ever thought that a "get rich quick sceme" could result in your home planet being destroyed, and you ending up all alone.
All in all, this movie is cheesy, I mean you have the Psychlos from planet Psychlo, but it's in a fun way. I own the DVD which, is pretty kick ass, and I just watched it again a few days ago (still liked it). In some way I think I like it more since most people hated it. It's sort of like my movie.
Oh, and JoBlo, if you ever see this I have a question. Have you seen BE since it came out on video? And if so, have you changed your opinion about it at all? It's been edited from its theatrical version.
[This message has been edited by Jacker (edited 01-30-2002).]
02-01-2002, 04:51 PM
bskutle, I thought the idea of a Mining Company taking over Earth is pretty cool. It's definetely different. The Psychlos want nothing to do with Earth, other than its gold.
08-29-2002, 02:38 PM
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Director: Roger Christian
Cast: John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, Kim Coates, Sabine Karsenti, Richard Tyson, Marie-Josée Croze, Kelly Preston
Screenwriters: Corey Mandell and J. David Shapiro, based on the novel by L. Ron Hubbard
Producers: Jonathan D. Krane, Elie Samaha, John Travolta
A Warner Bros. release
Battlefield Earth makes so many missteps I don't know where to begin. Perhaps the best way would be to examine the film in the broadest of terms. Despite a potentially interesting story, the whole enterprise is plagued by clumsy scripting and poor direction. The plot holes grow bigger and bigger as the story proceeds, and what little credibility it had to begin with is extinguished by the unfortunate third act. I have not read the original novel, so I cannot compare, but it's safe to say that it couldn't have been much worse than Roger Christian's ill-fated adaptation. The idea of humanity fighting a centuries-old alien occupation certainly has dramatic potential, but little of it is realized. It plays like a bad Star Trek episode, especially since the alien race--the Psychlos--look suspiciously like Klingons.
The film is poorly directed and edited. Christian uses a variety of techniques in an attempt to command our attention, but he doesn't seem to know how to put them to proper use; he just throws them at us in a fit of desperation. The camera is almost always tilted; rarely is there a level shot to be found. The overuse of screen-wipes is unnecessary and annoying. Just about every image is shot through blue and green filters. He generates little excitement or tension, confusing rapid, borderline-incoherent editing with action. According to some reports, even he wasn't too pleased with the results, although he tried to put a good face on it.
John Travolta is the only one who seems to be enjoying himself, although delivering an over-the-top performance doesn't necessarily equal good acting. He doesn't really come off as menacing, just loud and brash. Barry Pepper is solid as the hero; it's a minor miracle he comes across as well as he does, but why did he sign up for this turkey in the first place? The same could be said about Forest Whitaker as Travolta's second-in-command. He manages to make it through intact, but I don't think he will put this thing on his resume anytime in the near future. I think bad movies like this explain why some actors are self-conscious about seeing themselves onscreen.
It's a bit sad though; Travolta had wanted to make this film ever since reading the novel upon its first publication twenty years ago. At long last, he had a chance to proceed with the project--only to meet in glorious failure. He actively defends the results, saying that in twenty years it will be a cult film like Blade Runner. Putting aside the inappropriate comparison, this sounds like the voice of a man in denial. That's not the end of it though; he wants to make a sequel, based upon the remainder of the book (the film only covers the first half). Might as well bring it on and get it over with; to be honest I'm curious to see if it could actually be worse. Finally, I’d like to hear more about what went on behind the scenes. Such an account would probably be more worthwhile than the film itself.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Cyclonus:
[i] Finally, I’d like to hear more about what went on behind the scenes. Such an account would probably be more worthwhile than the film itself.
Supposidly production was fun and pretty laid back for everyone. Have you seen the DVD features? It was an ansamble of people that worked on "Independence Day" and "Godzilla." Christian (I believe) did a lot of set designs on all the Star Wars movies.
I guess this movie is a guilty pleasure for me. I mean, there definetely is meataphores, but it's just for its own story telling, not divine messages. To me it's a Sci-Fi action comedy. I think a lot of people thought this movie was supposed to be pretty serious. ABSOLUTLEY NOT! It also is like a celebration of all old-school Sci-Fi style film from over the last 30 years or so. And i just simply had fun watching it. 8/10
[This message has been edited by SLAW (edited 08-29-2002).]
08-31-2002, 11:27 AM
I couldn't believe the massive and consistant reviews of (0/10), (1/10) or rated(turkey). You would expect the worst from this movie but may be surprised to find it isn't really so bad. I have seen so many films that were much worst, especially in sci-fi and this was better than most. I would give it 6 or 7/10.
07-03-2005, 07:17 AM
ive watched this twice now, i expected to hate it on a second viewing but i ended up still liking it. despite its flaws, the poor acting, shoddy script and illogical plot i found it to be a lot of fun. there are many fun action sequences and chases, theres also some great CG sequences towards the end of the film that looked great with stuff exploding. i wasnt that bothered by the plot problems and many stupid holes that littered the film because i was never bored, maybe they helped keep the film fun.
sure it was crap but it was fun crap
07-03-2005, 01:28 PM
Not trying to be over the top with the rating, but that's honestly what I feel it deserves. The camera angles alone are enough to bother you, much less the faded colors and shitty pointless makeup jobs -- the suction cups around the temples on the side of Travolta's head along with those dreadful dreads. Not even remotely entertaining, and I remember getting a headache from this catastrophe when I saw it in theatres. Never again.
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