Battlefield Earth (2000)

I somehow managed to avoid this on its initial release, and only got to see it on DVD years later, but nothing could have prepared me for the horror that is Battlefield Earth.

In case you’ve been on the moon, this is John Travolta’s personal project, an adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard’s novel. I usually look for the postives in any movie which picks up such bad reviews, but in this case the critics were being kind. Travolta sits around in a bad wig and huge platform shoes spouting gibberish, Forest Whittaker looks even sillier and some fine b-movie actors including Barry Pepper and Kim Coates wish they’d stayed obscure. The same probably applies to director Roger Christian, who worked his way up from set dresser on a lot of great ’60’s TV shows to directing several interesting small-scale genre movies, and who acted as second-unit director on The Phantom Menace just before Battlefield Earth.

Despite his experience and occasional flair for visuals, the backdrops vary wildly, the lighting is expensive and I got a headache. It’s tempting to look for some subliminal Scientologist message but it doesn’t seem to be that clever. The disk is well done but nothing else is. Save yourself and get anything else, even a Robin Williams movie.

Mild Peril Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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