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Starring: John Travolta
Director: Roger Christian
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 1 / 5
Can an utterly poor movie actually be said to exceed expectations? Believe it or not, Battlefield Earth is not as bad as advertised. Do not misunderstand - this John Travolta vanity project is a sorry effort, but it actually contains a few moments which made me wonder if it has been unjustly vilified. For those who did not read a newspaper during the two or three weeks immediately before and after Battlefield Earth's premiere in the summer of 2000, this science fiction tale is generally considered one of the worst movies to ever grace the screen. In actuality, Battlefield Earth contains a somewhat respectable premise and a credible performance from co-star Barry Pepper. Alas, that is all this film boasts of, assuring it of little more than a lifetime of dust on video store shelves.
In the year 3000 AD, Earth is an enslaved planet. More than a thousand years prior, the Psychlos invaded and destroyed the majority of the planet's inhabitants. Small communities remain, dotting a landscape wrought with nuclear radiation. This is the only world Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) has ever known, yet he dreams of a better way of life. For this reason, he ventures forth from his secluded mountain refuge in search of hope. What Jonnie finds is anything but hope, as he is soon captured by a roving band of Psychlos. They view Earth as one vast mine, a planet which can be drilled for gold and left to die. But does Jonnie have the power to stop them?
Much has been made of the fact that John Travolta and his fellow Psychlos cohorts have to appear to be eight or nine feet tall, yet somehow proportionate. Shockingly, director Roger Christian is able to pull this off with some degree of success. Certain wide camera angles portray the various actors as long-legged creatures on stilts, but the majority of shots are able to capably convey an accurate height differential. While the Psychlos may look presentable, their dialogue proves to be anything but. Travolta hams it up, praying that loyal fans of his might not recognize him beneath a ton of makeup and effects. At least he manages to come across better than Forest Whitaker, who, as Travolta's chief henchman, appears dim-witted and utterly useless.
John Travolta tried for years to get this film produced, with the Scientologist considering L. Ron Hubbard's novel a personal mission. While the popular actor proves to be a good sport when it comes to his character, no amount of acting skill would be able to save the conclusion's many contrivances. The final battle for Earth is filled with science fiction cliches and absurd moments that snuff any emotion out of the film. From an intriguing premise came a bucket of slop, and I found myself rooting for this film to defy expectations. My prayers were not answered, as Battlefield Earth is merely another lackluster science fiction offering in a sea of half-hearted efforts.
Certification: Rated PG-13.
Running Time: 117 minutes.
Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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