Scientology Crime Syndicate

10 May 2000


'Battlefield Earth' Screener

The reader known as 'Gareth J. Von Kallenbach' has checked in and alleges to have caught a recent screening of John Travolta's big screen version of L. Ron Hubbard's book Battlefield Earth. Here's what Gareth thought:

In 1982, author L. Ron Hubbard published a book called Battlefield Earth. The story told of Earth 1000 years after being conquered by an alien race known as the "Psyclones", and how one man led the humans in a fight to retake their planet.

The book was a success, and has become a pet project of the film's lead John Travolta for many years. Apart from being an author, L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of the Scientology movement, and since Travolta has been a member since his teen years, he has looked for ways to bring the book to the screen ever since its first printing.

It would be nice if this story had a happy ending, one where an actor of Travolta's status is rewarded for all his hard work over the years in a film that captivates the audience and fuels the imaginations. Instead, Battlefield Earth is easily one of the worst movies made in recent memory, and a prime example of how not to make a movie.

The plot follows the book in regards to to a maniacal Psyclones named Terl (Travolta) who is attempting to get stationed anywhere but Earth, and his biddings to gain more power, wealth, and influence. Into Terl's life comes a human named Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, (Barry Pepper) who constantly surprises Terl with his ability to improvise in his escape attempts. It seems that over the thousand years that the Psyclones have occupied Earth, they not only are stripping the planet of all the resources they can locate, but they are convinced that humans are little more than simple animals that are not worthy of any compassion or merit, not that the Psyclones have much of that, even amongst themselves.

Terl decides to educate Jonnie is the language of his race, as well as in the arts of science and math to name but a few. It is Terl's hope that Jonnie and a few other humans can operate their machines, and harvest a large batch of unreported gold, so Terl can not only gain wealth, but can have leverage in his attempts to leave Earth.

It is at this point that a film that was going badly, quickly slides further and further down into the realm of absurdity.

Soon Jonnie and his group have formulated a plan to retake the Earth, and with the help of a military depot, they arm themselves for the big battle.

The big problem with this, is that the film expects you to throw all common sense out the window. The audience is expected to believe that fighter planes, bullets, guns, explosives, and nuclear weapons, would all be in prime condition after sitting neglected for over a thousand years. By all logic, the fuel for the planes would be unusable, the metal and electronics in the weapons would be rusted and rife with corrosion, and the uranium in the bombs would no longer be active.

Worse yet, we are supposed to believe that people living in caves with no modern technology can become ace fighter pilots with only a few days training in a simulator.

I know that it is often necessary to suspend reality, especially in a science fiction film, but the gaps in the film are so blatant, it is hard not to notice them. The biggest blunder is in the battle itself. Terl tells Jonnie that when the Psyclones first attacked Earth, the human forces could only muster nine minutes of defense. Now, 1000 years later, and facing improved technology, those same human weapons are more than a match for the Psyclones, even when manned by inexperienced people who have not used technology in years.

The look of the film is very basic, and the costumes, effects, and makeup are very underwhelming. Travolta does his best to play it up, and his Terl is certainly an evil character. However, aside from Forest Whitaker who plays his assistant, there is nobody in the film who brings any passion to their work, and any of the cast seem to be uninterested in their role. Early in the film, an actress obviously blows her line, and the scene is still left in the final cut.

When you combine all of what I have said previously, with the fact that people were walking out of the free preview, it seems like Battlefield Earth is destined to be remembered as a galactic dud.

1 star out of 5.

Gareth J. Von Kallenbach


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