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Battlefield Earth


All you need to know about this notorious John Travolta mega-flop is that it must be seen. Preferably after having consumed large amounts of alcohol.

What better way to spend a Saturday night than finally getting around to viewing what is considered by many to be one of the worst films ever made? You've got to admit you're curious.

Forget Glitter, forget Swept Away. Those movies are just plan old boringly bad. For absolute brain-bending, logic-defying, dreadlock-baring, leverage-gaining cinematic insanity, you can't go past Battlefield Earth.

Travolta plays Terl, a member of a tyrannical race of suspiciously bureaucratic aliens known as Psychlos. The Psychlos are all eight feet tall, sport dreadlocks and stomp about in big stupid superfly boots cackling on about "leverage".

By the year 3000, a millennium of enslavement by the Psychlos has reduced humanity to its primitive dregs. These "man-animals" (as the Psychlos refer to them) have been forced into the mountains as the Psychlos sucked Earth dry of all its natural resources.

Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (yes, that's his name, played by Saving Private Ryan's Barry Pepper) is a particularly resourceful man-animal who leaves his mountain retreat seeking adventure, but finds himself captured by Terl who plans to use him to execute the kind of scheme a Scooby Doo villain might concoct. It's all about gaining the aforementioned leverage against fellow Psychlos.

But Goodboy will rise up against his captors and inspire his fellow man-animals to fight back against the Psychlos. Yay!

Battlefield Earth is bloated, ridiculous, nonsensical and unintentionally hilarious throughout. The acting is something to behold - Travolta cackles and hisses his way through the film, as do his fellow Psychlos - Forest Whitaker (Travolta's Phenomenon co-star) and Travolta's clearly devoted wife Kelly Preston.

Pepper does his best to overcome the awful script, but his CV will unfortunately be forever tarnished by this cinematic car accident. Richard Tyson, the thick-necked star of TV's Hardball and the soft-core classic Two Moon Junction finally gets to play a role that suits his Neaderthal looks.

The scene where Goodboy and some fellow man-animals (I'm starting to like that term) pilot a fleet of F-15 fighters that have been handily waiting in an underground bunker for 1000 years, fuelled up and ready to fly, must be seen to be believed.

They've clearly spent a lot of money on the film, but it still fails to impress as anything other than a twisted party favour. It was directed by a poor soul by the name of Roger Christian, who had previously made several low budget films and was the Second Unit director on The Phantom Menace.

But the blame can be placed squarely on Travolta's shoulders - in addition to his acting crimes, he brought it to the screen as producer.

Battlefield Earth is based on a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, who also just happens to be the creator of Travolta's controversial religion, Scientology. Scientology is getting a lot of press lately, with fellow superstar proponent Tom Cruise unable to stop going on about it in interviews and his new fiancé Katie Holmes recently beginning steps towards converting to the religion.

Travolta told the New York Daily News that getting Battlefield Earth made was "the pinnacle of using my power for something." Does that mean we can blame Quentin Tarantino, who helped Travolta regain his "power" when he cast him in Pulp Fiction? I'm just thinking out loud.

Anyway, make sure you watch it. It's hilarious.

 


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