Battlefield Earth

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Prepare for battle.


Action, Sci-Fi

John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, Sabine Karsenti

The year is 3000, and humans are an endangered species. Hundreds of years ago a ruthless and advanced race of large dreadlocked humanoids called the Psychlos conquered Earth in nine minutes. Since then, the Psychlos have been stationed on Earth leeching its natural resources for their own advancement in the universe. Considered no better than stupid animals, humans are exterminated or enslaved for menial labor.

Of course there are a few pockets of free human survivors scattered throughout the world. They have reverted to primitive ways, and have no knowledge of the Psychlos, the war, or humanity's previous technology. In one of these settlements, Jonnie Tyler (Pepper) vows to leave his mountain haven and search for the truth of the gods. Leaving behind his partner Chrissy (Karsenti), Tyler journeys to the heart of the Pychlos dome and becomes a prisoner with many other humans.

Fueled by a need to fight back, Tyler encounters Terl (Travolta), the Psychlos chief of security, a sadistic being who would do anything to increase his personal wealth and leave the detested Earth. Through an elaborate plan fed by Terl's greed and betrayal, Tyler manages to form a rebellion of humans with a daring and large-scale plan to take back their planet.

Based on scientologist founder Ron Hubbard's book, Battlefield Earth was initially feared to contain brainwashing elementsfor scientology propaganda. After its release, however, people discarded this notion and simply said that the movie just plain sucked. The reviews I have read of this movie were unkind at best. Although Battlefield is by no means a masterpiece-- or even a very good movie-- it isn't quite as bad as everyone has made it out to be. I was entertained by it, and that's the main purpose of most movies, right?

The acting is mediocre, and even Travolta fails to shine beneath his mat of unruly dreadlocks and huge prosthetic forehead. He plays the cynical and mean Terl fairly enough, but there's nothing terribly memorable about the performance... I think he needs his magic dimple to perform properly. But Travolta was wonderful next to rigid goody-two-shoes Pepper. Pepper's character apparently drank way too much hero juice as he morphs from backwards mountain man to super-intelligent fighting machine.

The special effects were quite good, with the dome shattering battle at the end actually quite impressive. The only physical problem with the movie is the Pyschlos themselves. The huge foreheads, bad hair, and cumbersome platform shoes made them look more like wannabe Klingons at a Trekkie convention who just didn't have quite enough money to make a really good costume. In fact, the Psychlos' resemblance to Klingons doesn't end there; they also have a penchant for violence, a major superiority complex, and a phlegm-filled guttural language.

The final problem I had with Battlefield Earth was its unrealistic premise (Which I know is always a stupid thing for a reviewer to say about sci-fi, but this movie bugged me). So 1000 years have passed and humans STILL haven't managed to figure out the Psychlos language? And the White House is still pretty much intact? And gold is universally valuable? And the Pyschlos only have one base on the entire planet which just happens to be in America? So yeah, this is another sci-fi movie that doesn't require intellect. In fact, it's better if you pretend you don't have any while you watch this.

If you suspend disbelief, and try not to predict the numerous hero cliches, Battlefield Earth becomes a relatively entertaining movie. Things are black and white; Terl is a pure bad guy; Jonnie is hero incarnate. Earth is beautiful and natural; Pyschlos is evil and industrial. The bad guys get their due while the good guys triumph.

Point Blank:
Plain and simple and easy to watch... if you don't like good films.