"Battlefield Earth" is one of the worst films ever made. It's
that simple. It's "Plan 9 From Outer Space" made with 60 million
dollars. Had Ed Wood actually made it, people would expect an apology.
When the cultural impact of this fiasco finally sinks in, John Travolta
will be lucky if he can get a job plucking the gray hairs out of Ron
The only thing I can figure out is that the Church of Scientology
decided that they wanted to ensure nobody else joined up. This movie is
like watching the Pope accidentally catch on fire while giving Easter
Mass. If that's not a time to rethink your spiritual choices, what is?
The primary special effect in the movie is accomplished by filling
buckets with dirt and pieces of concrete and then tossing them across the
screen. Director Roger Christian has a hard-on for flying dirt like you
would not believe. The guys who wrote this should be forced to dictate
everything for the rest of their lives so that they can never again touch
pen to paper or finger to keyboard and declare themselves writers. If
Christian can get a job as a Sears portrait photographer after this movie,
Congress should make the use of cameras punishable by death. Every single
scene is at an angle, which gave me the urge to slide off my chair and
smash my skull into the floor. Action scenes look like they were shot
inside a paint mixer.
If egos were farts, one imagines John Travolta could destroy an entire
planet himself by devouring a single frozen burrito. That this film even
got made is clearly one testament to that fact, and that they're already
planning a sequel is another.
Rates the Movies
much the "Showgirls" of sci-fi shoot-'em-ups, the new John
Travolta starrer proves that even members of the $20 million-per club can
push audience goodwill to the breaking point -- and that point may soon be
synonymous with "Battlefield Earth." Few career revivals have
enjoyed as heartfelt a welcome as that attending Travolta's when
"Pulp Fiction" ended his long slump six years ago. But this
bombastic, frantic, frequently ludicrous "dream project" of the
actor (for which he takes co-producer credit with his manager, Jonathan
Krane, and Elie Samaha) is truly an insta-camp idiot's delight. Pic could
reap OK coin, given its heavy marketing push and turbo-action nature, but
there may not be enough undiscriminating young male viewers in the world
to recoup costs. There's also another hurdle: Contrary to prior evidence,
it is possible to make a popcorn pic too dumb for the peanut gallery.
The first thing to talk about with "Battlefield Earth" is
not the subliminal messages allegedly sneaked in by the Church of
Scientology. (If they're there, they don't work.) Nor is it John Travolta's
unintentionally (I presume) hilarious performance as a villain who's part
community-theater Iago and part Rastaman pimp. It's hair. There's
more of it in this movie than in the sink trap at Supercuts.
- Andrew O'Hehir,
Scientology is supposedly about unblocking yourself and opening the
road to success, which is sort of what happens to the movies' hero,
Jonnie, one of a planet of human slaves, suffering for the past 1,000
years under the yoke of the fiendish Psychlos. And Travolta plays the
worst Psychlo, Terl, somewhat in the sneering style of Vincent Price.
Whenever he plays a particularly mean joke or evil trick (which he calls
"gaining leverage") he laughs boisterously. So does Whitaker's
Ker. In fact, most of the Psychlos spend much of the movie laughing
fiendishly, often at the antics of the humans whom they consider incapable
- Michael Wilmington, Chicago
The Psychlos make the situation look very dire indeed, cartoonish
spokesmodels for the dastardly unpleasantness that aliens will wreak upon
the earth. This unpleasantness, not incidentally, resembles that narrated by
L. Ron Hubbard in his Scientology tracts, in which aliens have poisoned
earth and its inhabitants long long ago, and so caused the need for much
"cleansing" of spirit and mind, monitored by experts for regular
fees, of course.
- Cynthia Fuchs, Pop
"Battlefield Earth" is like taking a bus trip with someone who
has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a
hostile way. The visuals are grubby and drab. The characters are unkempt and
have rotten teeth. Breathing tubes hang from their noses like ropes of snot.
The soundtrack sounds like the boom mike is being slammed against the inside
of a 55-gallon drum.
Some movies run off the rails. This one is like the train crash in
"The Fugitive." I watched it in mounting gloom, realizing I was
witnessing something historic, a film that for decades to come will be the
punch line of jokes about bad movies. There is a moment here when the
Psychlos' entire planet (home office and all) is blown to smithereens,
without the slightest impact on any member of the audience (or, for that
matter, the cast). If the film had been destroyed in a similar cataclysm,
there might have been a standing ovation.
- Roger Ebert
There are only two ways to react to a film this completely awful — you
can either flee in abject horror, or better still, you can embrace it in all
of its cheesy, stupid glory.
The movie also has that Dune-ish sense of a massive novel being
shredded down to manageable size. Characters and references flash by
without set-up or follow-through, adding to the generally incoherent
nature of the thing. As was the case when Dune was released, plans
for a sequel are already in the works (the movie only covers the first
half of Hubbard's opus). The public never did clamor for that Dune
sequel, and Battlefield Earth seems likely to repeat that story --
but then everything else about it seems like a repeat, anyway.
How did this stinkbomb get made? Short answer: John Travolta's ego.
Travolta has said it has been his dream to make a movie out of L. Ron
Hubbard's novel, and apparently nobody in Hollywood was powerful enough to
Some will question the Scientology link -- Hubbard, of course, founded
the Church of Scientology, of which Travolta is a well-known member -- and
whether "Battlefield Earth'' carries any Scientology subtext.
Frankly, I could barely wade through the movie's text, and am
disinterested in deciphering whatever subtext is there. Few moviegoers, I
suspect, will care enough to try.
(Sean P. Means)
Let's be fair: Battlefield Earth has already taken more of a
drubbing than any three movies that will be released this year largely (if
not entirely) because of its connection to Hubbard and his unique
religious legacy. The plain truth is that it's no more a waste of
celluloid than half the other nonsense Hollywood shovels our way, and
several orders of magnitude more watchable than such comparable fare as
1999's Wing Commander or last January's Supernova. Younger,
less discriminating viewers (5-year-old boys) will eat it up.
The summer movie season has barely begun and already it has its first
10-ton turkey. Battlefield Earth is a sluggish, soporific dud, the
dreariest big-budget science-fiction adventure since Dune. The film
strives for the cheeky spirit of a high-toned B-flick: It's crammed with
slick-but-chintzy special effects and has a campy sense of humor. But
practically every scene in the movie falls miserably, painfully flat.
30 minutes into this wreck of a motion picture, with thunder crashing
in the sky above, the power went out, mercifully relieving me of my
immediate responsibility to endure the rest of the movie. Since I began
writing reviews, I have never walked out on a film, but Battlefield
Earth would have been a contender had I been so inclined. On this
occasion, fate and the local power grid allowed me to make an early exit
without blemishing my record.
And now the
news: It is twenty two years since Ed Wood's death and nineteen
more than that since Wood created what is acknowledged by many to be the
worst movie of all time, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Rumor has it that
somewhere six feet under Californian soil, the corpse of Ed Wood is
exhibiting a huge smile of satisfaction, having heard the hysterical howls
of the crowd watching Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000
with Cranky. In other news, Tim Curry will curse the name John
Travolta forevermore, for upstaging Frank N. Furter with his portrayal
of Terl, the Psychlo.