Wow, has this thing already been a punch line for thirteen years? It seems like only yesterday I first heard about this cinematic shit bomb to rival all cinematic shit bombs, before and since. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid it for almost a decade and a half. But now, I can no longer count myself as untainted by Travolta’s butt brush of Scientology. For I have seen Battlefield Earth and I have been underwhelmed to such a degree that I forget what it feels like to be truly, utterly and unapologetically whelmed.
Alright, Battlefield Earth is so boring, I’m not even gonna pretend it kept my attention long enough to follow it’s… I guess for lack of a better word, I have to call it, “story”. So I will blatantly paraphrase the plot synopsis from my crack research team at Wikipedia…
In the year 3000, Earth has been ruled for 1,000 years by the Psychlos, a brutal race of giant humanoid aliens. The remnants of humanity are either enslaved by the Psychlos and used for manual labor or survive in primitive tribes living in remote areas outside Psychlo control. Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, a member of one such tribe, leaves his home in the Rocky Mountains on a journey of exploration… He obtains gold from Fort Knox… After a week of training, the rebels launch a mass uprising against the Psychlos using Harrier jump-jets and other weapons.
That actually makes the move sound loopier than it really is. If it was that loopy, I at least might have found something to be entertained by. But somehow, even with all this crazy shit, Battlefield Earth is just really mind numbingly boring. Except the bit where cavemen fly fighter jets. If you don’t think a caveman flying a fighter jet is super cool, then why bother living?
The film making is more than serviceable. Old mate Roger Christian knows how to shoot a movie, especially if you want it to look like it was shot by a one legged camera man. Seriously, I appreciate a good Dutch angle as much as the next man, but I’d rather not get a stiff neck because an entire movie is set at 45 degrees. And Christian uses so much unnecessary, indulgent slow motion, even Zack Snyder would say, “Damn, that’s some straight up unnecessary, indulgent slow motion.”
Jonnie Goodboy (best character name ever) is played by Barry Pepper, and you have to give him credit for not half assing it. Pepper really does use his whole ass and makes an obvious attempt to take this ludicrous bullshit seriously. Even when he’s required to scream “Noooooooooooo!” in anger on no less than two separate occasions in the first twelve minutes, he manages to keep a straight face. Now that, is acting.
Battlefield Earth is a terrible, terrible movie. But worse than that, it’s a boring movie. The first hour is just Pepper running from the baddies, getting caught by the baddies, escaping from the baddies, running from the baddies, getting caught by the baddies, escaping from the baddies, running from the baddies. And because it spends so much time caught in that loop, there’s no time left to develop the second half where shit actually happens. Cavemen flying fighter jets type shit.
Budget $73million / U.S Box Office $29.7million
Worst Actor – John Travolta
Worst Supporting Actor – Barry Pepper
Worst Actress – Kelly Preson
Worst Director – Roger Christian
Worst Screenplay – Corey Mandell, J.D Shapiro
Worst Screen Couple – John Travolta (with anyone sharing the screen with him)
Instead of Battlefield Earth, watch Barry Pepper be awesome in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada