|"Better than Star Wars" - an actual John Travolta quote about this film|
|Entertainment Weekly published this. Who knew they could be kind of funny?|
So far, it's not good, but it could be worse. There's a Star Wars: Episode III-worthy shout of "Noooo!" in the beginning, and it's stupid to think that human speech devolved into animal grunting without any noticeable physical changes. Oh, and the fact that a miniature golf course withstood 1000 years of weather and is still recognizable is pretty ridiculous, but that's as bad as the introduction gets. It never gets this good again.
Enter the Psychlos. Terl (John Travolta), the security chief on Earth, is eager for the end of his time on Earth; he has paid his dues by living on our stupid planet, and now he wants to leave. That's too bad. Terl's boss shows up and tells him that his stay has been extended indefinitely, thanks to something he did with "the Senator's daughter." Wait...that sounds familiar...is that the movie where Travolta asks someone what is worse than rape, and it turns out to be...wait for it...rape? Never mind, that's The General's Daughter. I never thought I would be comparing that movie favorably.
Anyway, Terl comes up with a plan. When he sees that Jonnie, a common "man-animal," is smart enough to wield some Psychlo technology, he decides to educate Jonnie. Why? Um. The end game has Jonnie and some other man-animals working mining machines to dig up gold in a radioactive area (where Psychlos can't go), so he can buy his way off the planet with (radioactive, and therefore useless to the radiation-shy Psychlos) gold, as well as with some blackmail videos he has stored up and creatively edited. How does Terl teach Jonnie to mine? He has Jonnie sit in front of a learning machine (we call that a television in America) that shoots education right into his face.
|"Get ready for the money shot, er, an unnecessarily complete education, Jonnie"|
Jonnie learns the Psychlo language, their history, his own history, mathematics, and all sorts of other things that have absolutely nothing to do with gold mining. With his new-found education, Jonnie sees the weaknesses of his enemies, and teaches his fellow man-animals that now is the time to
Here's a fun quote from the movie: "I'm going to make you as happy as a baby Psychlo on a diet of kerbango." Whaaat?!? Waaas?!? Thaaat?!? First of all, I love that Psychlo children are called "baby Psychlos." That would be like telling someone that I slept like a human baby last night. Basically, this begs the question, "as opposed to what...?" Also, on a more personal note, that line almost made scotch come out of my nose, which only upset me more. Just terrible dialogue.
Why is Battlefield Earth one of the most notorious movies of the the modern film era? Sure, my description of it might sound kind of dumb, but is it really that much dumber than the bulk of what Hollywood churns out every year? I don't think so. No, BE plumbs the depths of awfulness by doing everything you can do in a movie poorly.
Let's start with the acting. It's horrible. End of story. Honestly, John Travolta is as horrible of an overactor has ever, and his worst tendencies come out in force whenever he plays a villain. Forest Whitaker was surprisingly bad as Travolta's lackey. Barry Pepper was the worst, though. The combination of his awful acting and his character's ridiculous dialogue puts him forever on my shit list.
|"The Academy saw this movie and wants my award back? Aww, man...!"|
But maybe it all looks cool, right? 'Fraid not. The costume design is laughably bad.
|Barry Pepper, or the worst X-Men character from the 90s? You decide.|
The primary reason Battlefield Earth is one of the worst movies in modern cinema is not because the acting/directing/special effects and costuming were bad. Sure, with all of that going against it, BE was going to go down as a wretched film, but it could have built a cult following if it wasn't so inept. You see, the man-apes are acting like they're in a B-movie update of Planet of the Apes, but the Psychlos are acting like they are in a wry, British comedy about ne'er do wells who keep stabbing each other in the back (only, you know, ridiculously unfunny). Travolta's accent doesn't help. There are two completely incompatible tones at work in this movie, and neither one is good; the man-animals are never inspiring or clever, and the Psychlos are never evil or funny enough to make their backstabbing interesting. Funny-bad movies typically get that way because they are played straight, but are absolutely ridiculous. This movie tries to poke fun at the villains by making them petty and stupid, but their efforts to ridicule anything pale in comparison to the pure hate that your creative mind will come up with.
But is this the worst movie ever made? I doubt it, but it certainly deserves to be in the competition. If you are too stupid to take my advice and leave this one alone, do yourself a favor and put it on when you plan on falling asleep or passing out.