Battlefield Earth

Condition & Format

In the 30th Century, when Battlefield Earth is uncovered in a mass grave for bad films by revisionist cineastes, it is more than likely that it will still be the worst science fiction film ever made. John Travolta's $73m pet sci-fi project--an adaptation of Scientology guru L Ron Hubbard's rambling pulp novel --is like the long lost sequel to Ed Wood's Plan Nine from Outer Space. Incompetent, incomprehensible and, at nearly two hours running time, way over long, Battlefield Earth is nothing more than a rehash of hackneyed post-Star Wars sci-fi clich?®s. It has the production values of Buck Rogers in the 21st Century and a sprawling plot that merges Planet of the Apes and the TV mini-series V.It is the year 3000 and the Psychlos, a race of dreadlocked aliens, are busy raping the Earth of its natural resources to revive their own dead planet. Peppy young turk Jonnie Goodboy Tyler decides to fight back: he speed-learns the Psychlo language, masters their alien technology and then rallies the beleaguered human race to victory. The Psychlos are at a distinct disadvantage since they persist in wearing ludicrously-stacked heels that make it hard to do anything but totter like stilt-walkers. Therefore, out of necessity, most of the action sequences in Battlefield Earth are shot in slow motion. John Travolta plays Terl, the blustering Psychlo chief of security on Earth, like a pantomime villain delivering leaden dialogue that elicits unintentional pathos. Forest Whitaker in the role of his oafish, double-crossing sidekick Ker erases all traces of screen credibility gained through his role in Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog. And as Tyler, pretty boy Barry Pepper has the charisma of a plastic action figure. Even the tagline for this film--"A saga for the year 3000"--is startlingly banal.On the DVD: At first glance, this DVD looks to be packed with extras. A director's commentary, two TV spots, trailer and three "making of" feaurettes--but once you've seen one of the featurettes, you've literally seen them all, as the other two simply recut the same footage. After watching this travesty of a film, it is unlikely you'll want to hear British director Roger Christian gushing over his own work on the audio commentary with production designer Patrick Tatopolous. One can only guess that the creative team got stranded on Planet Psychlo and lost all their critical faculties. The main feature is of good enough picture quality to accentuate the ghastly blue and orange hues that colour almost every scene. The film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic format with optional 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. --Chris Campion


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