Movie Review: Battlefield Earth

Directed by Roger Christian

Starring John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker

Okay, I’ll make this one quick: Battlefield Earth has good special effects. And that’s about it.

Based on the bestselling novel by the late L. Ron Hubbard (founder of Scientology); produced by and starring John Travolta (the most famous adherent of Scientology), this movie would do Flash Gordon proud. It has the same sort of slapdash plot (or lack thereof), goofy costumes, poor acting, and generally ridiculous pseudo-scientific premises that make the old science fiction serials so charming today. Unfortunately, it ain’t 1935 anymore.

Hubbard originally made his name in the heyday of the old pulp magazines, but he never grew out of it as an author (while many did). Everything about Battlefield Earth screams that it was made by and intended for fifth grade boys.

It’s the year 3,000, and over the last 1,000 years, mankind has been rendered near extinction by the invasion of the giant humanoid Psychlos (whose main leisure activities consist of drinking green goop, double-crossing each other, and talking really, really loud). The Psychlo chief of security (Travolta) makes the mistake of enslaving and training a young human named Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper), who, in the course of about a week, goes from illiterate caveman to savior of the human race.  

I’ll admit there’s a certain popcorn appeal to this movie. The aliens are so ridiculous you’re just aching to see them killed. And when the Psychlo planet is destroyed near the end of the flick (oops – spoiler!) it looks uncannily like the exploding volcano in those old Scientology ads.

Did I mention it has good special effects?

Our Rating: D

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