Never before in my eighteen years of life have I seen such a disappointment. I was incredibly hyped for Battlefield Earth, a sci-fi epic based on the best selling novel by L. Ron Hubbard, and to have it turn out to be so lousy it is hard to write anything good about, well, that is just devastating.
Despite what the poster says, Barry Pepper leads the cast as a wanderer who is captured by the Psychlos and put into slavery. He probably gives the best performance out of the entire movie, but that doesn't say much. He's alright (we know he can do a good job since he rocked in Saving Private Ryan) but the script is so bad that he doesn't have much to work with it. Either the story was simplified immensely from the novel over it clung too closely to the novel, because not only are most of the lines bad but everything else is bad as well. We get an equal view at the good guys, the literally savage humans, as we do at the villains, a Ferengi-like species that are obsessed with profit and are always trying to deceive each other. The word "leverage" is used to the point of nausea as the various levels of aliens continue to work off each other, trying to make more money for themselves. Maybe this is a big part of the novel - I don't know - but I want to see the humans fighting back. All of this obnoxious junk is personified in the head alien, Terl, played by John Travolta. Travolta, who has some good experience as an excellent, psychotic bad guy (Broken Arrow, Face/Off), delivers the worst performance of his career. He sounds stupid, he looks stupid (at least his hands do), and his lines are stupid. Worst off, his attitude never changes the entire time, which is sort of a let down because we want the bad guy to realize that he has been defeated at the end.
The look of the movie is just as bad. The director, Roger Christian, has cluttered Battlefield Earth with tons of unnecessary scenes, stupid slow-mo shots, and stuff like that. In one scene, Pepper is running away from a bunch of Psychlos as they fire guns at him, and you can't help but notice the cheesy likeness to The Matrix lobby scene. Furthermore, this scene seems to go on forever without any point, other than to show that the director knows how to shoot slow-mo. Even worse, the transition between each scene has an extremely outdated look. So do the graphics. While the stationary backgrounds, such as the ravaged cities, look cool, when things start moving, a weak budget begins to show. There are some cool explosions but there are some bad explosions, there are some cool ship shots and there are some bad ship shots. It all depends on how the graphic designer felt that day, I guess.
Battlefield Earth also lacks action, despite the name. Sure, Pepper escapes a few times, but he is always brought back a couple minutes later. Furthermore, none of the humans have any comprehension of guns as they are basically caveman. The only way Pepper gets around to bringing any real threat to Terl is that Terl himself feeds all the information Pepper needs to revolt into his head. I still do not understand it. The ending is a little more action-packed but not very intense. There is no real suspenseful part in the whole movie. Maybe it is because the set up to the ending is so cheesy. A bunch of forest savages learn how to fly fighter jets that mysteriously work after a 1,000 years? Some of these guys learn how to fly alien jets? Pepper and his pals are able to travel to Fort Knox (where the aliens have mysteriously not plundered for gold), then to Texas, and then to Washington, D.C., even though the aliens are supposedly watching them the entire time. Oh, and the final five minutes are just horrible.
Battlefield Earth is a bad movie. Outdated graphics, a bad script, bad acting, bad action scenes, and a bad presentation throughout make Battlefield Earth not even worthy of a fair fight. I hope it suffers the same fate that the Psychlo planet did.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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