This one works as punishment!

Barry Pepper as our unkempt human hero.

Hideous; only good to laugh at

Kind of serving as The Room of science fiction, Battlefield Earth is a film that is not soon forgotten. I do not mean that in a good way. I mean that in the same way you’ll never forget that one annoying asshole of a kid in school who constantly broke things and wouldn’t shut up.

Okay, so from what I can gather, Battlefield Earth is based on a book about the beliefs of a scientologist. If that’s the truth then this film requires a South Park-esque disclaimer at the bottom of the screen reading “Yes, this  is what scientologists actually believe in”. Now, even if Scientology makes Christianity look flawlessly plausible by comparison, how is this film on its own? Well, let’s just say it was dubbed one of the worst films of all time for a reason.

The year is 3000. For 1000 years an alien race called the Psychlos – calling them the Blad Gluys was too obvious, the filmmakers agreed – has controlled our world, and humans are savage and essentially animals for the new masters to hunt, enslave and study. We mostly follow a tribesman called Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (played not so well by Barry Pepper) who along with another hunter (Kim Coates) is captured when getting too close to the local Psychlo base.

The leader at this base is Terl (John Travolta at his very worst), who needs to hold his post on Earth longer than originally planned. Apparently it is punishment for him going to bed with the Psychlo Senator’s daughter. It’s never really made clear, mostly because Psychlo sex is the last thing anyone would want on their mind. Terl nevertheless attempts to conduct his experiments on Jonnie, but due to being a complete moron, he inserts knowledge into Jonnie’s mind in order to communicate with him, but consequently lets the human know how to fight and destroy the Psychlos. His deputy Ker (Forest Whitaker) rarely looks amused by his boss’ dumb decisions. I’d say it’s because the actor is ashamed.

The grotesquely ugly, six-fingered Psychlos serve as the antagonists in this film.

If the stupidity of the characters and the unbearable acting – John Travolta is almost so bad he’s good – doesn’t turn you off, then that’s probably because you’ve already turned the film off because of it’s nauseating cinematography. I swear that there isn’t a single shot in the entire film that doesn’t tilt the damn camera. It gets especially disorienting when the camera is tilting left in one shot and right in the very next one. I can’t grasp why a drunkard was hired to do the camera work for this film. Maybe it’s a nod to how a drunkard invented Scientology?

I can’t say that the costumes and visual effects is anything to cheer for either. The psychlos are particularly ugly to look at, which makes it a pity that they take up so much screentime. The mucus-like breathing devices that hang from their noses doesn’t make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable. As for their six-fingered hands, I don’t even know what the point is. Seems pretty impractical to me.

I often use Fringe as an example when describing what sci-fi should be like. I often use Battlefield Earth for the opposite. It is a film that deserves its reputation. The acting is lousy, the action’s even worse, the cinematography is below the bottom of the barrel, the story offers nothing interesting and the obnoxious, hammering music only adds to annoyance. Alot of people claim that this is a film that totally goes off the rails. I don’t think it was ever on the rails in the first place, but sort of driving beside it… in a slanted angle.

Speaking of which, don’t be offended by my comments against the religion of Scientology up there. After all, merely pointing out the implausibility of Scientologist beliefs is intolerant towards Scientologists in the same way that pointing out the fact that Spock is a fictional character is intolerant towards Star Trek geeks.

One good thing to come out of the existence of this film would be this poster. Truly, some films are only good to laugh at.

0.5/5 whatever

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