Sometimes, bad is bad.
And this stop with the Sci-Fi Chronicles Book demonstrates how bad.
There is absolutely nothing redeeming about this film, and it’s a wonder that any of those involved walked away with the semblance of a career. Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s titanic novel, the film stars John Travolta, Forest Whitaker, and Barry Pepper, all, arguably, fine actors – but even they cannot make a cohesive and entertaining whole of this horrible film.
Being a scientologist, I can see why Travolta wanted to make the film – having been written by the cult’s founder, but there is nothing in it that works. The script is so poorly written as to make the dialogue laughable, it’s not even at a B-movie level. And I can say that, as I have read the original book and suffered through this ridiculous adaptation… though, in all honesty, the book isn’t that much stronger, though posits some fun science fiction ideas, if poorly executed.
In the far distant future, man has fallen. Civilisation has collapsed to a pre-industrial age, and is controlled and used by a race of giant, dreadlocked, big booted (hiding stilts) aliens known as Psychlos. The story follows Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Pepper) on his journey that sees him fall into the hands of the Psychlos, commanded by Terl (Travolta) and Ker (Whitaker).
He learns how to use their technology, and leads the fallen race of men in a war against the greedy, profiteering Psychlos for control of the planet.
The film does have some halfway decent effects, but the horrible performances, the completely banal, offensive, script doesn’t make even that tolerable. The odd choices for camera angles, the ridiculous middle-wipes for screen transitions… everything reeks of a missed opportunity.
If the film had been a little better crafted, it actually might have worked, but it’s beyond ridiculous, and this from someone who can enjoy a goofy, or even cheesy science fiction film.
This would have been a film I would have walked out on, if I’d been in a theatre, and to date, I’ve never walked out on a film. I’ve been disappointed by them, but never enough to warrant me actually leaving a theatre.
For Battlefield Earth, I would have.
Nearly everyone associated with the film has since claimed their distaste for it, and their regret at being involved, but for an exception or two. I think this film, quite possibly the worst film of the 21st century, is better best forgotten, and no one should have to subject themselves to it, ever again.