Battlefield Earth (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Robbins report: "Independence Day" meets "Planet of the Apes".

It's the year 3000, and Earthlings have been driven back to the stone age by their conquerors from the planet Psychlo. The few remaining earthlings are either living as savages in the mountains, or working as slave laborers for their conquerors, headed up by John Travolta as the head of security. Amazingly enough, things have held up well on earth. After a thousand years, some cars still have a decent paint job, proving that that 99 bucks at Earl Schieb is well worth it. And books are still in pretty good shape, better than the ones my mom had from her college days. And a flight simulator is in perfect working condition. I wonder what it uses for power.

The Psychlos, however, have made a big mistake in their domination plan. They have a special machine that dispenses an education instantly, the machine also works on earthlings, and one of the savages manages to use it to accelerate from the Stone Age to a point of equality with the Psychlos.


none. John Travolta does, however, get some oral sex from a woman with a tongue many feet long. (Kelly Preston, the real-life Mrs Travolta)
Barry Pepper manages to defeat the Psychlos pretty much single-handedly, even though the baddies rule the entire universe and originally defeated the combined military forces of earth in nine minutes. You see, the Psychlos have a weakness. They are strong, and advanced, but endlessly scheming, and Travolta is the biggest schemer of all. Their entire psychology is dominated by a greed for profit, and the only thing they like more than honest profit is profit earned through treachery. They're kind of like Republicans with really long nose hair.

This is the worst-reviewed movie in the internet age, but I've seen many much worse. Of course, they didn't cost $73 million.

Because of the camp value, I have to say that this movie is underrated. Let me make this clearer, because it sounds like I'm praising it, and I should state explicitly that it completely stinks, and it's a total waste of $73 million. The plot makes no sense at all, the parts that follow sequentially are implausible, the scenes with the humans by themselves are unsalvageably bad, and the music is laughable.

On the other hand, the special effects are at least average. Some visuals are pretty good (the men held in the zoo comes to mind), although almost every notable scene was ripped from some earlier film.

What makes this film better than "I Dreamed of Africa" or "Autumn in New York" is that the sense of high camp in Travolta's ludicrous performance gave it a lot of laughs.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • Full-length director and designer commentary

  • several behind-the-scenes featurettes

  • various other bonuses

I like Travolta in the movie. He brought a whole new dimension to alien bad guys. He is evil and soulless, to be sure, but he's not invincible and unknowable like a Darth Vader character. In fact, he's immature, whiny, sneaky, arrogant, conniving, and has a cruel but sometimes on-target sense of humor. Travolta plays the entire role like a smart but condescending 22 year old preppie who has been denied his rightful place at the head of daddy's firm, for reasons obvious to everyone but him. Travolta assays this role with campy glee, turning his character into Joan Collins in a nighttime Soap Opera, with almost as much makeup as Miss Collins would normally employ.

If the movie had starred Richard Gere instead of Travolta, it would be as bad as everyone said, but it isn't. Travolta clearly created this farcical, whiny, over-the-top characterization on purpose, and it works in a lot of ways. It's the only humans vs monsters movie I can think of where the monsters are more interesting than the humans, and maybe that's why people hated it so much.

The rest of the movie is just unredeemedly dumb and boring, and while dumb can be fun, there is no cure for boring, so it's unwatchable when Travolta is off-camera.

But when he's on, it can be hilarious.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: one star or less. Ebert 0.5/4, Berardinelli 0.5/4, Maltin 0/4, Apollo 39.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 7% positive overall, and 7% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 2.3, in the bottom 100 of all time. Apollo users 50/100.
  • With their dollars ... a disaster. It made $21 million at the box office, which is not so bad, but the budget was $73 million, and they released it on 3300 screens hoping for a blockbuster.
My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D. It has some funny moments, and a campy performance from John Travolta, which keep it from being totally unwatchable.

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