Battlefield Earth (2000)

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Battlefield Earth (2000)

Post  BoG on Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:09 pm


The time seemed right to adapt the long sci-fi novel by L. Ron Hubbard to the screen; it was the year 2000 and the story took place in the year 3000.  John Travolta was still at the top of his game as the nineties were ending, still a bankable commodity following the recharge of his career in Pulp Fiction (94) and a fervent follower of Hubbard's Scientology movement. The story, epic in its qualities of showing a future Earth under the dominion of giant-sized invaders, seemed like a sure bet to score big on the big screen, in the Star Wars or Independence Day mode.  But, none of these potential positives were realized.
The most eye-rolling moment happens in the final act when thousand-year-old Harrier jets are somehow activated and flown by a small cadre of  rebels who had been, until that moment, living like prehistoric cavemen as the few surviving remnants of humanity. But, to me, the most serious problem with this film is the performance by Travolta as the alien Terl, one of the invaders. Travolta hams it up so much with his snickering and nearly effeminate line delivery that he destroys any chance to take these alien invaders even a bit seriously. It doesn't help that the depiction of these invaders, with their dreadlocks, is laughable; they look tall, yes, but the actors look like they're on stilts, as if in some carnival show. In the book, the hairy, 10-foot-tall aliens are described as so fearsome-looking that a human might fall dead with fright at the sight of one.
Barry Pepper also stars in the key role of Johnnie Goodboy, the human who figures out a plan to finally strike back at these invaders. He's captured early on but bides his time learning of ways to get back at the aliens. Forest Whitaker co-stars as another alien and (supposedly) Terl's buddy and confidant. Other humans and potential rebels are played by Kim Coates and Richard Tyson (Three O'Clock High), members of primitive tribes, the only type of society left of the Earthlings.  Kelly Preston, Travolta's wife, has a cameo role as a female alien. The direction of this film, by Roger Christian, overall was also lacking, with many camera shots tilted at an angle for no reason and a sluggish pace to the whole thing.  BoG's Score: 2.5 out of 10
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