Scientology Crime Syndicate

From: Chris Owen <chriso@lutefisk.OISPAMNOdemon.co.uk>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 23:09:03 +0100

The reviews of Battlefield Earth are now rolling in, all universally panning the film. Some gems from Ain't It Cool News (http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=5915) - remember, these are all independently submitted reviews from ordinary punters:

Father Geek: "I went and saw it tonight at Austin's Cinemark Barton Creek with Quint and The Mouth, and... well, shit it is just STUPID, not funny stupid, but incompetent stupid."

Don "Mack" Donald: "A boorish vanity film with little to no discernible storyline and a complete lack of finesse, EARTH is only entertaining when viewed as a vehicle for Travolta’s ego."

Mister Stinky: "This movie would never have been made without Travolta, and now maybe some Hollywood suits will re-think this kind of vanity star project. The only chance I give this piece of excrement is as a cult camp classic worthy of MST3K-style lambasting."

Zeta: "In a word: Dull. Dull. Dull. I cannot remember the last time I saw a movie this bad in a theater. "

Enigma Boy: "Think of a mixture between THE POSTMAN and SOLDIER. Add an annoying villain who cackles the whole movie (ŕ la Power Rangers), the tedious narrative nature of I DREAMED OF AFRICA, a bit of scientology, and all the bad parts of JOHNNY MNEMONIC. You now have a detailed description of everything found in BATTLEFIELD EARTH. In other words, this movie was PRETTY GODAMN AWFUL!!"

Dr Jizzum: "It wasn't even campy fun, it was dumb, lame, incomprehensible, and the worst torture anyone can ever endure to mankind, I would be embarrassed to invite my friends to this one! Avoid like the plague!"

.. and that's even *before* the media really get stuck into it.

It's pretty clear that the film is a bona fide disaster with John Travolta, L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology sitting at ground zero. Bad reviews in the US haven't necessarily resulted in a film tanking worldwide - the US public hated The Fifth Element and Starship Troopers, but both did very well in Europe (both having being made by European directors and evidently appealing more to European tastes). Battlefield Earth doesn't even appear to have those films' saving graces, and if it does as badly as it looks like doing, it'll be a straight-to-video release here. Remember, it's got to make at least $50m if it's going to break even. That looks very unlikely, even if Scientology makes an all- out effort to drive up the audience numbers by packing cinemas with Scientologists.

So what're the consequences?

The producers are going to lose a lot of money. That's nothing unusual in the movie business; most films don't make a profit. Studios keep afloat by having the occasional big hit amongst a flock of mediocre films and a few turkeys. If they get the hit:mediocre:turkey ratio wrong, they go under pretty quickly, as happened with Carolco in the 1990s. Warner Bros will take a hit but the company's so big they won't suffer any serious damage, except perhaps to their reputation.

John Travolta's own reputation is going to take a hammering. BE is undoubtedly the worst film he's made since his trough in the 1980s, and perhaps the worst film he's ever made. He will probably recover, since he's still a big name. But he's going to have to work hard to recover after his recent string of mediocre films and now this turkey. The fact that the film was made on his insistence will be held against him for a long time.

Scientology is going to get a lashing from all quarters: the fact that the film was ever made at all is going to be laid on Travolta's Scientology connections. It may be unfair, but some of the film's panning is undoubtedly the result of the widespread dislike of Scientology. BE is already being compared to the Moonie-funded Inchon, also a disaster. Watch out for mentions of Xenu and Scientology's own sci-fi cosmology, as well as its peculiar promotional activities for Hubbard's books. The vast stocks of newly issued copies of BE the book will soon head for the bargain baskets and the Terl "Ratbastard!" dolls are undoubtedly destined for the nearest landfill. My advice is to get hold of one as a souvenir before they vanish; they'll be a collector's item in years to come.

The biggest loser is going to be L. Ron Hubbard himself. Scientology *might* have got away with it if it had promoted BE as a bit of lowbrow light entertainment. That approach didn't do any harm to Armageddon, an equally dumb, badly plotted and noisy film. Unfortunately (for Scientology) it had to go down its usual megalomaniacal bombastic route of proclaiming BE to be an all-time sci-fi classic and the film as the greatest movie ever - this year's movie to beat. With this sort of weight resting on its metaphorical shoulders, BE needed to be pretty damn good. Its sheer awfulness has shown those claims to be utterly false. Ironically, this venture - intended to raise Hubbard's profile as a major writer - is instead going to show him up as a talentless hack with an Ed Wood-style disregard for plotting. Nobody else will touch a Hubbard screenplay with a bargepole for many years to come.

How is this utter fiasco going to be explained away? Of course, for Scientologists, it won't need to be; in their happy fluffy cotton-wool world, BE really is the greatest film ever, written by the greatest writer ever. They will love the film, see it and buy tickets for all their family and friends to see it. If CoS requests that they sit through it 20 times in order to increase the audience figures, they'll do this willingly "for Ron".

Even so, all but the most fanatical will soon twig that there's something seriously wrong - why hasn't the film done very well and why has it been so roundly trashed? The standard Scientology explanation for a SNAFU will be trotted out - it was all due to SPs in the media who planted articles attacking BE and put the public off it. If only it had been treated more fairly it would have been a big hit!

The more sophisticated will seek to pin the blame on the screenwriter, Corey Mandell, and the director, Roger Christian. Warner's will also be blamed (quietly) for not giving the film the support it so obviously deserved. While these worthies undoubtedly contributed to the dreadfulness of BE, you can't get away from the fact that the film was doomed from the very start by the poor quality of the source material. You can't turn a rotten egg into a tasty omlette.

Travolta himself won't be blamed by Scientologists - he did his best, they'll say. The CoS itself absolutely will not put Travolta on pole- circling duties, as he's much too valuable an asset to be treated harshly. The other name who won't get any blame from Scientologists is, of course, the sainted Ron himself. Expect some Author Services Inc. personnel to take the rap instead. Clearly they didn't do their homework in adapting Hubard's masterpiece for the big screen.

All in all, BE is likely to rival or even exceed the Lisa McPherson case in terms of causing lasting damage to Scientology and its pet causes; and it's all self-inflicted, too.

| Chris Owen - chriso@OISPAMNOlutefisk.demon.co.uk |
| http://www.ronthewarhero.org |


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