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Battlefield Earth (2000) – Movie Review

Battlefield Earth movie poster

Written by: Corey Mandell, based on the novel by L. Ron Hubbard
Directed by: Roger Christian
Starring: John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, Kim Coates, Richard Tyson

My Advice: Wait for MST3K. On the other hand, Don’t Miss It.

Welcome to the year 3000. It seems that a thousand years ago, a race of aliens known as Psychlos showed up and literally bombed the human race back to the Stone Age. Now, Johnnie (Pepper), lives in the caves with his tribe and dreams of a better life for his people. Despite the protests of his girlfriend, Daryl Hannah (Coates), he decides to go out into the world and see what there is to see–but there’s a problem. The problem is nine feet tall–Terl (Travolta), the Psychlo chief of security. He’s got a job for the industrious Johnnie, and the young “man-animal” could turn it to his advantage and take back the planet–or wind up getting everybody killed.

[ad#longpost]This is the funniest movie of the year. Period. It’s so unbelievably and egregiously bad, you have to wonder if they did it on purpose. I’m serious. We’re talking Yor, The Hunter From The Future bad here. Let’s talk acting: Travolta is over-the-top evil to the point where he’s caricature–and a bad one at that. Whitaker is over-the-top bumbling to the point where he’s a nine-foot Marx brother. Pepper is over-the-top feral to the point where he’s auditioning for the role of Wild Child in the next X-Men movie. I wish I could tell you a bit about the supporting cast, but I never caught any of the character’s names, so I’ve assigned them their own names. Other than Daryl, the main troglodytes are Captain Caveman (the guy with the Braveheart face paint) and Ringo Starr (the obligatory guy who really just wants to go home). As actors, they seemed to realize they were in a large burning building and thusly strapped themselves to the columns as best they could. But basically, the pacing is terrible, the writing and dialogue are unbearable (“I’ve always known this was your destiny!”), and there are scenes and imagery lifted right out of Blade Runner, Star Wars, and The Matrix.

Not convinced? Okay, it’s one thousand years in the future, right? How is it that there are jets lying around, dust-free and fully functional? Same with batteries, flight simulators–even paper! I don’t know exactly what the shelf-life of ordinary paper is, but I do know that books won’t last an entire millennium. Also–another sure sign you’re in a C movie is when everything is labeled in friendly, stenciled letters–such as FUEL or EXPLOSIVES. And ask yourselves how a race that can wipe out an entire planet’s military in nine minutes can’t even put a surveillance satellite in geosynchronous orbit. If you dare.

This movie is Clan of the Cave Bear meets Independence Day and should be treated as such. Grab you, grab your friends, get sloshed, go to a matinee and laugh your keister off like I did. In fact, like most of the audience in the screening I saw did. If that’s not your idea of a good time, please…for the love of God–stay home.

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