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Battlefield Earth

Director:Roger Christian
Writer:adapted from a novel by L. Ron Hubbard
Warner Bros.; PG-13; 130 minutes
Release:5/00
Cast:Barry Pepper, John Travolta, Forest Whitaker

Battlefield Earth is John Travolta's horrendous homage to one of the many sci-fi thrillers written by the founder of his religion, legendary Scientologist L. Ron Hubbard. Travolta backed the film, whose making, he says, has been a long-term goal for him. It is set 1,000 years into the future, when an alien race has taken over Earth and human beings are an endangered species. The Psychlons come from planet Psychlo, are about 10 feet tall, and look suspiciously like members of the metal band Kiss.

Reduced to hunter-gatherer tribes on the radiated upper mountain ranges, humans subsist and try to evade capture by the demons, who enslave the man-animals. Cruelly stupid Terl (John Travolta) hatches a plan to teach the man-animals gold-mining (it turns out that the advanced alien warmongers love gold, too). This gives the human rebel leader (Barry Pepper) a chance to destroy the alien race and annihilate their home planet with a nuclear warhead. "Destroy their home planet?" ask an incredulous follower. Pulling out of his shock, he recovers: "We'll need extra supplies!" It's that kind of movie.

Battlefield Earth would be hilarious if it were supposed to be funny, but it's not. Be prepared for lots of cackling aliens with chapped lips and bad teeth who grunt idiocies while the humans sprint and look concerned. Various subtexts about liberty and leverage do not warrant further investigation. The action scenes probably emulate real battle: they are muddy, incoherent, chaotic and pointless.

Feral filmmaking without redeeming qualities.


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