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"Battlefield Earth"

Directed by Roger Christian.
Written by Corey Mandell and J.D. Shapiro.
Starring John Travolta, Barry Pepper and Forest Whitaker.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  5/28/00


After polishing off the third of three of the finest glazed donuts money could buy this morning, I decided that since I had nothing to do today I would go and finally check out the much-maligned John Travolta film “Battlefield Earth.”  Besides, I figured, how bad could it possibly be?  I've seen some bad movies in my time and this can't be any worse than those.

Well, I was right and I was wrong.  This movie IS a piece of shit.  But, it is not nearly as bad as many of the articles I have read about this film.  But, it has so many problems that it makes you wonder whether Travolta will go ahead and make the other two films in this planned trilogy or not.

Quickly, the plot:  in the year 3000, Earthlings are an endangered species because a race of aliens called the Psychlo have almost wiped humankind out.  The ones that are left are mostly enslaved by the Psychlos in human processing centers around the globe.  At one processing center in Denver, Colorado, Johnny Goodboy (Barry Pepper, probably wiping tears away at the premiere of this movie) is not gonna take being somebody's bitch anymore and decides to lead a revolt of the slaves against the Psychlos there and their head of security, Terl (Travolta).  Half of the movie is your requisite prison film, and the second half is “Independence Day” with more gunfire.

What the fuck was Travolta thinking when he signed to do this movie?  By playing the bad guy, he gets to play his “Broken Arrow” character all over again, which is not a good thing if you have seen that movie.  And, it is based on the book by L. Ron Hubbard and his whole Scientology agenda.  Can the book be this bad?  I heard that it was a classic...but, I guess that is all perspective.  Travolta gets some of the worst lines ever written for the screen, and the makeup job for his Terl character is awful.  The action scenes in the first 90 minutes are poorly done and the special effects even look like they were shortchanged.  And, the plot...oh popi, the plot is horseshit.  It just seemed like there were a bunch of scenes thrown together and the transitions—left-to-right wipes across the screen—were lifted right out of the “Star Wars” trilogy.  The director, Roger Christian, might not want to quit his day job with a movie like this on his resume.

Since none of you have nor will ever see this movie, I will keep it brief.  You could really do worse than this film, but you would really have to try to do so.  “Battlefield Earth” has a decent last 15 minutes, with some of the aforementioned-”Independence Day”-esque dogfighting sequences and prison revolt scenes being reasonably watchable.  And, Pepper does an admirable job with a shitty role.

Now that you have read this, you should go out and watch “Gladiator” as soon as possible.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09