Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000) (part 2 of 10)
We open with loud and bombastic music, which immediately reminded me of Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings. Damn, it’s like the movie actually wants me to hate it. Said music, according to the end credits, was composed by someone named Elia Cmiral. Who the heck is that, you ask? My point exactly.
(To my horror, the first thing the commentary track reveals is that Roger Christian has an absolutely adorable British accent. I’m going to have a hard time mocking him now, because for some reason guys with British accents make me go all gooey.)
To my dismay, the end credits will reveal that Patrick Tatopoulos was responsible for the production design and costume design. As you may recall, he was also involved in the making of the American bastardization of Godzilla, and Matthew Broderick’s character was even named after him, which very nearly qualifies Tatopoulos for Repeat Offender status. That makes me sad, since I’m actually a great admirer of the man’s work. His involvement in Godzilla, this, and now Eragon makes Jet cry many single tears.
(The other party on the commentary track is in fact Tatopoulos himself. Thank Hubbard it wasn’t Travolta. My head would have exploded, because, according to reports, Travolta thought the movie rocked, and was still talking about a sequel well after it was clear that it was a complete box office and critical failure.
Here on the commentary, Christian reveals that the movie is “very visually oriented”. Ouch. He added that they were “trying to create a comic strip”, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either, but there you go. Later on, he adds that L. Ron is one of the biggest selling sci-fi authors of all time, which I have no trouble believing. In a world where Eragon and Wheel of Time are hot fantasy properties, it’s pretty clear that people will read anything.)
And—well, wouldn’t ya know it?—we start with an Opening Expository Crawl. Help me out, people. Apart from Star Wars, have you ever seen a movie with an Opening Crawl that didn’t suck? Hello? Anyone? Bueller?
The Opening Crawl helpfully proceeds to ruin any and all suspense and mystery by outlining the following facts:
- Evil aliens called Psychlos have taken over the Earth, which was “once Man’s home”. Wow, really? Although, as we’ll see, there are still humans living on Earth. Doesn’t that mean it’s still Man’s home?
- The Psychlos are after gold, because it’s “the rarest and most valuable metal of all”. Damn. Platinum, you just got owned.
- The human race is on the verge of extinction.
After this promising start, there’s a warping zoom in down to the Earth, and some rather impressive aerial shots of snowy mountains. This immediately made me start hoping that I put in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings by mistake.
No such luck. Green “futuristic” text appears over the mountains. It says, “Man is an endangered species”. Gee whiz, Mr. Peabody, so that’s what being “on the verge of extinction” means? I guess you can live or you can learn, and some people even do both. Gods, I need some cheese. And maybe some wine too.
(On the commentary track, Christian explains how he “fought” to have that bit of text there, being as it’s the first line in the book, and apparently it “really sets you up” to understand that “this is an abandoned world” and we “need” to know that. Um, okay, sure. Whatever works for you, Brit-boy.)
More aerial shots. This is easily the most attractive cinematography we’ll be seeing over the next couple of hours. Finally, we arrive at a large wooden wall with a gate. The wall and the gate are covered in spikes—we never really find out why. An old dude is holding the gate open, while a group of ragged looking people file through it. They’re all wearing suspiciously well-fitting leather clothes, and look pretty damn neat and clean for supposed primitives. Oh, and the best part? According to the Opening Crawl, these humans are hiding out in an “irradiated zone”. You know, as in there’s radiation about?
Uh… Did anyone involved with the movie (or even with the source novel) know what radiation actually is? You know, like the fact that it’s not exactly conducive to healthy living or anything? These people have full heads of hair, plenty of muscle, good skin and perfect teeth. Where’s the pale skin? Where’s the hair loss and general weakness? At the very least, shouldn’t some of them have a few extra eyes or something? Apparently not. This scene, as well as the entire movie, seems to indicate that the writers learned everything they know about radiation from old Silver Age comic books.
Zoom in on one girl who’s staying outside. She’s cute and has a Determined Look on her face, so, yeah, I think she’s probably the heroine.
(On the commentary, Christian says he picked this actress because she had an “ethnic” look. He doesn’t say why, and he doesn’t even specify which ethnicity, but apparently it was “important”.)
The old dude who’s holding the gate open gives us our first dialogue in the movie. Fittingly, it’s overwritten, horribly stilted, and so obviously expository that it made me groan.
Determined Chick gives him a reproachful look, during which we see that her eyebrows are nicely plucked and that she’s managed to find a hair stylist out here in the wilderness. Wow.
“He was a wild spirit!” the old dude goes on. “And this was always to be his fate!”
Okay, look, do the writers honestly believe that this is how real people speak? I’ve seen better dialogue in Harry Potter fanfics. (You know the kind. The ones that think Evanescence existed in the 1970s.)
“You talk as if he’s already dead,” says Determined Chick, as she stomps off through the gate, allowing Old Dude to close it behind them.
Gosh, I wonder who they’re talking about? The suspense is killing me! No, wait… I just dozed off and had a bad dream where someone was killing me. Never mind.
Determined Chick strides off through the barren landscape on the other side of the gate, followed by Old Dude, who seems to be in the mood for a bit of haranguing.
“Even if he does survive this time, he’s a greener,” he grouses. “It would be best to set your sights elsewhere for a husband!”
[Editor’s Note: It’s never a good idea to throw meaningless slang terms on the front five minutes of your film. Especially if there’s no point to them. Just a little tip for future filmmakers. —Ed]
Determined Chick shakes him off and retorts that she’ll never set her sights elsewhere. Sigh. This is Writing 101 people, for the love of gods. Lesson Number One: If you want us to like your hero, don’t start out by telling us what a great guy he is. Nobody likes being told what to think. If you try to tell them what to think, they’ll just get pissed off. I haven’t even seen the hero of the movie yet, and I’m already bored of hearing about him.
Having been successfully owned by this extremely not inspiring line, Old Dude stalks off. Is he leaning on a staff with beads and things hanging off it? You bet.
Determined Chick glances skywards. The movie switches to a longer shot of her, and it’s tilted at a 45-degree angle. This shot, by which I mean, this angle, will soon become very familiar to us, and it takes approximately two seconds to become annoying.
Next, there’s another impressive mountain shot. Unfortunately, we don’t get to spend the rest of the movie examining the marvels of nature, because there’s a guy riding down the mountain. You know, on a horse. I can’t help but wonder where he got that from. As we’ll see, human beings have somehow managed to regress to being little more than sophisticated cavemen, and in fact, some of them have even forgotten how to speak properly. And yet, they still have domesticated horses? With saddles?
On the whole, this movie is awfully selective about what humans have mysteriously forgotten, and what they’ve managed to remember. And as you’d expect, most of the stuff humanity has remembered is completely useless.
And now, at last, we see the guy riding down the mountain: He’s a good-looking, well-muscled young man with long blonde hair, riding a white horse. Gee, movie, there’s no need to be so subtle. What, he’s the villain?
Long-Haired Guy rides straight down the slope, forcing the poor horse to run over a steep bit of ground covered in loose rocks. Look, man, do you want to fall off and let your horse get hurt, or are you just stupid?
(There’s some nice continental appeal on the commentary, because Tautopoulos has a French accent. Here he tells us about how the set was artificially “aged”, and a few other things I won’t go into because they’re not that interesting. But apparently John Travolta specified—see, look, we’re already getting some evidence of who was really wearing the pants on the set—that he didn’t want the movie to look “too grungy”.)
Cut back to Determined Chick, standing just inside the spiky wall and staring at the sky. Or perhaps she’s looking at the mountainside where Long-Haired Guy is. That would make a little more sense, but the weird camera angles aren’t making it clear.
She hears the horse’s hooves, and Long-Haired Guy arrives. Strangely, he’s already inside the gate. It appears as if the mountain was actually well within the confines of the wall. So… what? Why was Determined Chick waiting outside for him? And if he didn’t leave the enclosure where the tribe lives, why was he in any danger? Needless to say, there’s no explanation for this. But explaining things isn’t exactly this movie’s strong point, along with, well, pretty much everything else.
Long-Haired Guy (he won’t get a name for about an hour) hurries over to his girlfriend. He’s got something in his hand, and he says, “This is all the medicine I could find.” Ah hah! So he only broke the rules because he’s a Noble and Courageous Spirit who puts himself at risk for the sake of others! Yep, I love him already. Well, I’d love him more if he were a little less clean-shaven. I mean, these cave guys have access to razors? Did the Gillette corporation somehow survive the alien invasion?
Determined Chick has sad news, however. She gently informs him that “the gods took your father in the night”. This leads to the first truly hilarious moment in the movie, as Long-Haired Guy turns away, shocked, while wailing “nightmare” music plays. Then, in slow motion, he hurls away the bottle of medicine (sure, let’s just waste the stuff you risked your stupid life for), raises his head to the sky and—yep, you guessed it—screams, “NNNNOOOOOOO!!!”
Oh gods. That’s just an absolutely perfect piece of Bad Filmmaking right there. Even George Lucas—who, let’s face it, is still way better than this director—got plenty of snickers when he had Darth Vader let loose with the ol’ “NNNUUUUU!” at the end of Revenge of the Sith. When it comes to melodrama, a little goes a long way, and you kind of have to earn the right to do it first. In this case, we have enough melodrama to kill small animals, and yet the movie has barely even started, so we have absolutely no reason to just go with it. Also, A) we don’t know who Long-Haired Guy is, and B) we never even saw his father, or found out anything about their relationship. (And we never will, either. This whole “dead father” thing has absolutely no impact on the rest of the movie.)
So, we’re three and a half minutes into the movie, and the filmmakers have already lost me. It doesn’t get any better than this. And you can interpret that statement any way you like.
Next we see Long-Haired Guy—Oh, all right, I give up; his name won’t be revealed until halfway through the movie, but I read the back of the DVD case, and it says he’s “Jonnie ‘Goodboy’ Tyler”. Yes, really. So they don’t even have the wheel anymore, but they still have middle names? Zowee.
Now Jonnie’s up on a mountainside somewhere, piling rocks on top of each other. I think he’s building a cairn, but on what, I’m not sure. If the patch of earth he’s kneeling on is meant to be his father’s grave, it doesn’t look like it’s been recently dug. Maybe there’s no corpse, because the other members of the tribe ate him during the night.
A middle-wipe transition (so, you’re fans of Star Wars, are you? Me too! Let’s be friends!) takes us into a cave where the tribe lives. Everyone looks pretty happy, but Jonnie is already showing his Rebellious Streak again. Good gods, doesn’t he ever take a break? He didn’t even kiss his girlfriend hello, and he’s already bitching about everyone following the Old Ways? Gah.
“As long as we stay here, we’ll never have enough to eat,” he says, a claim which doesn’t hold much water, given that everyone looks pretty well-fed to me, and the only sign of ill-health is the sound of someone coughing in the background. Uh-oh, I had a coughing fit just now. I must be dying! Wait a minute, I gotta get something to eat, before I starve!
Jonnie tells Old Dude that they really should pack up and leave, and find somewhere else to live, where there’s more food. Old Dude is immediately open to this suggestion, and they proceed to have a sensible discussion about the merits of this plan.
Oh, wait a minute, that would be too realistic. Instead, Old Dude immediately opposes this radical suggestion, because, hey, he’s the primitive version of The Establishment. He tells Jonnie they can’t leave, because the “demons” that live out there will get them. Oh, please. Why do old grouchy conservatives in movies always have to be superstitious idiots? Couldn’t he have said something like “we can’t leave because we’ll all starve before we find another shelter”, or “you’re exaggerating, kid, we’re doing fine here. If you think we need more food, stop bothering me and go hunting or something”? Would that have been so hard?
So Jonnie goes into Rebellious Mode again, challenging the existence of demons. “Have any of you ever seen one?” When his tribesmen don’t respond right away, he has a truly hysterical spaz attack, dancing around like a chimpanzee and throwing sand, yelling stuff like “a demon?? A monster??” Everyone just stares at him blankly. Old Dude gets up to tell him off, treating us to the old “cryptic legends based on ignorance and superstition which will, in a completely surprising turn of events, prove to be based in reality”.
According to Old Dude, the “gods” once protected Man, but after Man started falling into wicked ways, the gods ran off and let the “demons” come down from the skies to punish Man. Fortunately, Mankind was saved by a heroic uber-genius sci-fi author, who helped them rid themselves of the dangerous influence of Thetans for the low, low price of your entire life savings, and—whoops, wrong Hubbard story. Sorry.
Old Dude points at a suspiciously bright and detailed cave painting of a snarling monster. There’s some loud “shock” music with this, and everyone looks a little scared, even though they’ve presumably seen this damn drawing every day for years.
Needless to say, this hoary proclamation fails to move Jonnie, who just glares. He is, by the way, played by Barry Pepper, who provided good performances in The Green Mile and Saving Private Ryan. However, those performances were all in supporting roles, and this movie pretty strongly suggests that he’s not really leading man material. Perhaps in the hands of a more talented director, he might be, but here, no. He simply doesn’t have the charisma for it. Also, his face isn’t the most expressive. Here, his “resolute defiance” mostly just looks sulky.
(On the commentary, Christian calls the actor playing Old Dude “brilliant” and says they needed him to bring some “dignity” to the movie. Oh my. And I thought I was clueless. Another great laugh comes a few moments later, when he explains how dedicated Pepper was to the role, and how he “embraced the character”. How did he do that? By working out and building up some muscles, apparently. Yep, that’ll do it.)
Old Dude proclaims that humanity’s fate is, basically, to sit around doing nothing, in the hopes that the gods will change their minds and come back. Gosh, I know some religions encourage a passive stance, but this is a bit much. “That,” he finishes, “is our fate.”
“Only if you believe in fate,” Jonnie shoots back. Man, I wonder if that remark will prove to be Dramatically Ironic at some point. Nah. I’m just being silly, right?
Having made his point, Jonnie walks off, leaving Old Dude to resignedly shake his head and disappear from the rest of the movie.
Now Jonnie’s outside again, riding off at high speed (what’s the hurry?) on a completely different horse than the last one we saw him riding (this one’s dappled grey). So, either he owns more than one horse, or the filmmakers weren’t concerned much with continuity.
His still-unnamed girlfriend is waiting for him, also on a horse, and she’s changed her hairdo sometime during the last hour. “I’m sorry I can’t take you with me,” says Jonnie. I’m sorry, too. I really wanted to see more of her telling people how great you are, when you’re not there yourself to hammer the point into our skulls.
Of course, Girlfriend is just as stubborn and rebellious as he is. She immediately counters with a bit of grrrl power, to the effect that she can handle herself just fine. Jonnie agrees that she can, which is why she has to stay and look after the tribe. Dear gods… the originality… some son of a bitch took all the originality!
Girlfriend, who we now learn is named Chrissy (I can’t help but be reminded of Red Dwarf here), pulls a pained face which matches mine quite nicely. She gives him a necklace which she says his mother gave to her before she died. Jonnie solemnly accepts it. Gee, will it reappear at some big emotional moment later on in the movie?
Okay, that does it. This stupid hackneyed script just used up the last of my charity. From now on, I’ll be going for the jugular.
This clichéd scene over with, Chrissy bids farewell to Jonnie, who rides off to face his destiny. Now, if you knew nothing about this movie, and if you ignored the opening crawl (which I assume most people did), you’d probably think this was an extremely generic fantasy movie. We’ve got the primitive but peaceful village, we’ve got the crusty elder, the rebellious orphaned hero, and the old legends with “cleverly hidden” foreshadowing. Hell, we’ve even got the Desperate Quest to find medicine, and the Significant Trinket. Not to mention a slow-mo “NNOOO!”, and a shot of adorable village kids thrown in for good measure. Oh, yes, and a white horse. I have to admit, this kind of makes me feel at home, since bad fantasy is something of a passion with me. Unfortunately, the tone of the film will change very soon, but it did make me take a mental note to recap Dragonheart: A New Beginning someday.
There’s a quick shot of Old Dude greeting the sunset with what appears to be a didgeridoo [??], before a middle wipe (no way!) takes us to an uncomfortably-angled forest. Jonnie rides through for a while, before a sudden loud noise comes from overhead—very obviously a spaceship—causing his horse to freak out. In slow motion (look, guys, there really is such a thing as too much slo-mo), the horse bolts and throws Jonnie off. Oh, and by the way, he’s suddenly on the same white horse from earlier. What the shit?
(Around here is where Christian starts talking about the American Indians, and tries to draw Significant Parallels between Jonnie’s bewilderment over the next few scenes, and the Indians’ culture shock when white settlers appeared. This comes off as slightly racist, and just a little bit pretentious. Look, dude, it’s a dumb B-movie. Stop trying to make it look like “art!”)
Jonnie falls off the horse—again in slo-mo—and lands in a field of weeds. When he lands, he looks up to see what appears to be a dragon, but is very obviously not real. And yet, there’s a loud snarling sound dubbed in anyway. There’s a quick and completely unnecessary flashback to the cave painting, just so we remember it. After this, Jonnie freaks out, grabs a handy stick, and starts whacking the “dragon”. Eventually, he figures out that, hey, it’s only a statue. And the stick? It’s a golf club. He looks around, bemused, and sees a lot of other statues, including a giant golf ball. So, plaster statues at a Putt-Putt course somehow managed to survive a thousand years? If I were you, I’d get used to seeing implausibly well-preserved relics of the old human civilization. In this world, even books don’t disintegrate after a thousand years.
Look, guys, this isn’t Futurama. There, stuff still being in good condition after a thousand years is one of the show’s running gags. Here, it’s just stupid.
(On the commentary, both Christian and Tautopoulos find the mini-golf thing terribly witty, which should come as a surprise to no one. These bozos probably think Garfield is funny.)
Jonnie wanders on, and finds an obviously unripe apple somewhere. He tries to eat it, but spits it out when he realizes it’s sour. So, primitive cave people aren’t familiar with “apples”, either?
“Not a lot of meat on that dragon,” a voice interrupts. Jonnie turns around to see he’s being menaced by a couple of fellow primitives, who are pointing spears at him. So, how is it that they still know what dragons are, but they’ve forgotten about golf courses? And how is it that all these primitive, self-enclosed “tribes” all speak the same language?
Jonnie and the two guys have a “tense” standoff for a few seconds, during which they make some truly comical ape-like grunting noises at each other. The other two guys actually have beards, which adds a bit more reality, but not much. Oh, and, needless to say, one of them is fat, and the other one is skinny. Some things may change after a thousand years of living like savages, but clichés are absolutely ageless.
(I let loose with a pretty loud guffaw when Christian mentions how they needed Kim Coates, AKA Skinny Guy, to become Jonnie’s sidekick later, because Pepper has to play the “stoic hero” all the way through, and that could get “a bit one-dimensional”. Man, this commentary is comedy gold. Oh, and Coates was also in Waterworld. Do people never learn?)
Skinny Guy, who of course does all the talking, notes that Jonnie has a couple of rabbits hanging from his saddle. He then goes on to call him a “nonbeliever”, and Jonnie (who, by the way, is still wielding the golf club), replies that he believes what he can see.
The two guys tell him they’ve seen gods, and we find out the fat guy is called “Rock”. Is that a nickname? Or is it some kind of Flintstones thing where cavemen all have to have names like “Rock” and “Stone”? Or is he the same character from Beach Babes 2: Cave Girl Island?
Skinny Guy says they don’t have time to show Jonnie the gods, because they’ve got hunting to do. (Okay, that actually makes sense.) Jonnie says he’ll share his rabbits if they show him the gods. They agree, and yet another middle-screen transition takes us to yet another tilted shot. In this case, the shot is a matte painting of a destroyed city. Wow! It’s such a chilling insight into the world we live in, which is now gone forever!
Skinny Guy takes them on a tour of Ghost City. He relates “amusing” explanations of how the “gods” lived—you know the drill: they could fly, they could drive their “chariots” in front of special “caves” with “golden arches”, where food would magically appear. Oh, gods. As if McDonald’s needed more product placement, especially in a movie like this. He tells Jonnie about the “frozen ones”, supposedly ordinary people who were turned into statues because they offended the gods by looking at them. And don’t worry, that will become a supposed “joke” in just a few minutes.
They pass by a deserted gas station and come across a large statue of a guy holding a wrench. Rock claims that this guy was a god who fell in love with a mortal woman. Sadly, I don’t have much to add here. This “humor” is just too limp to rouse a real response. More clichés are rolled out when Rock and Skinny Guy add that the other gods can be seen shining in the night sky, and also that “monsters” come out to hunt at night. Please, gods, let me die. I can’t cope with this anymore. And no, I don’t care which gods you are, just make the pain stop!
Unfortunately, the gods do not smile upon me, because Jonnie and Co. now find their way into an abandoned shopping mall, where we’re treated to more komedy. Skinny Guy points out mannequins, and remarks they must have really offended the gods. If it means anything, they’ve been offending me for years with those stupid and unrealistic body-shapes.
There are some rather clean-looking escalators, and, for some reason, water is dripping from the roof. Oh, and this is all shot at an angle. Again. I’m not kidding when I say that it honestly makes me feel like I should be tilting my head to watch this movie. It’s just that uncomfortable.
They stroll on, and Jonnie, who’s now holding a stone axe he got from nowhere, walks face-first into a clearly visible plexiglass box. Okay, I don’t wish I were dead anymore. Now I wish the guys who made this movie were, up to and including the dolly grip and all the caterers.
(The commentary quickly reinforces this desire, when Christian says this bit is important because it “reinforces” the fact that Jonnie has entered into “a new world”. Argh! We get it, okay?)
Our “heroes” make camp and eat some meat, and this meat obviously did not come from the rabbits. I really don’t want to know where it came from, to be honest.
Jonnie provides some dinnertime entertainment by explaining why people call him a “greener”. Wow, I don’t know about you, but I was waiting with bated breath for this explanation. Are you ready? It’s because he’s one of those people who believes the “grass is always greener”. Somehow, I’m having trouble believing this saying managed to survive ten centuries, even though reading and writing didn’t. Oh, and the mall around them is now tinted green for no reason. If this was intended to be a “subtle” connection to the “greener” line, then I now officially hate this movie more than the kids who bulled me in grade school.
Skinny Guy suggests that perhaps Chrissy was right to tell him to stay. Oh, come on, man, he’s a hero. Heroes never stick around for their loved ones when adventure awaits and there are feats of derring-do to be carried out. Then he gives Jonnie a primitive knife made from glass, which Jonnie stows away in his clothes. It’s easy to miss and even easier to forget about, but, yes, it will be important later.
Rock mocks him for having left a “good woman” behind in order to chase some impossible dream. Rock, ever the pragmatist, says that if Jonnie doesn’t want her, he should tell Rock where to find her. Needless to say, this causes Jonnie to fly off the handle, and he jumps up in order to teach Rock a lesson. Said lesson being, never make lewd remarks about the Hero’s Obligatory Love Interest if you value your teeth.
But before a fight can break out, they’re suddenly disturbed by a very fake looking “laser blast”, which sends Skinny Guy flying (in slo-mo, of course). He hits the ground, wounded, and here comes our first glimpse of the villains of the movie: Namely, the Psychlos. The movie, however, is going to play coy with us in a vain attempt at generating suspense, so all we see is the creature’s hands and groin. Not exactly a tantalizing sight.
Jonnie makes a run for it, kicking off the first “action” sequence—or, as I prefer to call it, the first Acid-Trip Sequence. It starts off with everything going into slo-mo. Again. And then, all the sound is muted, leaving only blaring “scary” music—the kind with loud bangs and whiny sounds created by gently running a bouncy ball over a cymbal, and magnifying the sound several times. (Really. I saw it in a documentary.) And finally, everything is still tinted green and the light levels are low, so everything is extremely murky.
(Christian makes the claim that he wanted this sequence to be “like a nightmare”. Well… he did a good job of that, actually.)
Jonnie runs down the escalators, pursued by an anonymous alien with dreadlocks. He lands, skids, and runs away past a pillar, just as the pillar is hit by another laser blast. This laser blast, by the way, creates a weird “splashing” effect in mid-air, much like that shot of a skyscraper rippling in The Matrix, only much lamer and without Keanu Reeves. (Actually, it’s a close contest between Reeves and Pepper as to who’s the blander and stiffer actor. Oh, and we’ll be seeing a much more blatant Matrix rip-off later).
The chase sequence drags on, with both Jonnie and Rock on the run. Rock jumps off a ledge and hurts his ankle, and yells to Jonnie that he can’t move. Jonnie whistles, and his horse comes a-running. Unfortunately, the horse takes a laser blast, which causes Jonnie, incredibly, to trot out the slo-mo “NNNOOOO!” again. Good gods, I know people get attached to pets, but if you have exactly the same reaction when your horse dies as when your father dies, you’ve got some messed-up priorities. Anyway, Jonnie, don’t you have some running away to do?
The alien catches up with them and shoots Rock in the chest. He falls back, and Jonnie bolts. The laser bolts aimed at him hit various objects, and from the amount of destruction they cause, Rock should have had his heart punched out through his spinal column. (Which, by the way, I would happily pay to see.)
The chase goes on for what feels like an hour. Usually crappy B-movies can get this part right, but even the action sequences in this movie are a chore to sit through. After an eternity, a laser bolt finally hits Jonnie in the back, and he’s thrown through several plates of glass in an obvious rip from Blade Runner. I really hate this movie.
Oh yeah, and amazingly, Jonnie comes out of this experience completely unscathed, except for an absolutely adorable little scratch on his cheek. It’s like he’s Liv Tyler in Fellowship of the Ring.
Our Hero ends up in a cage, hanging beneath a stupid-looking hovercraft thing. And to make this shot all the more confusing, we’re looking at the cage from below. The hovercraft takes off in a blast of noise obviously recorded from a jet engine, and I see it’s suddenly daytime again (damn, and I thought the chase sequence only felt like it lasted that long!).
Jonnie, being a free spirit and all, freaks out and starts screaming. He’s not alone in the cage, though, and there are several other humans with him. Are there really that many around waiting to be caught? After 1,000 years, wouldn’t they all know better by now? I guess not.
Skinny Guy is also in the cage. He’s wounded, but okay, so he can be Jonnie’s sidekick later, of course. The ship flies over more LoTR-mountains and toward what looks like a giant greenhouse. Oh, and this is accompanied by more wannabe-John Williams music.
Jonnie peers through the bars at the alien structure below him which, I have to admit, is a pretty impressive matte painting. A few people working on this movie knew what the hell they were being paid for, at least.
A giant door opens in the side of the greenhouse, and the ship flies through it. It comes down to land in a big spaceport thing, and a purple gas is pumped into the area. The guys in the cage start choking and yelling stuff like “it’s poison!” and “my chest is on fire!” I guess it can’t be too bad, if you can actually yell that your chest is on fire. So suck it up.
An alien stomps over and snaps a pair of goofy-looking nose clips onto Jonnie’s nose. He tells the others, “It helps you breathe! Take it!” Ah, I can see a leader emerging already.
Around here, we learn that two of the guys in the cage are twin brothers. Not that it really counts for anything, but I felt I should note that, since we will be seeing them later.
And now, regretfully, it seems that my fifteen minutes of pain are over. No, wait, that would be a good thing. Good luck to whoever’s next. There’s still a lot of suffering to go.