May 25, 2009
Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000) (part 1 of 10)
The Cast of Characters:
Jonnie “Goodboy” Tyler (Barry Pepper). Our hero, complete with blonde locks and a white horse. Tends to shriek like a howler monkey when firing weapons.
Terl (John Travolta). Narcissistic and incompetent. Works for a vile, money-hungry organization, bent on world domination, which is responsible for all kinds of cruelty towards innocent human beings. In this movie, however, he plays an alien named Terl.
Ker (Forest Whitaker). Terl’s bumbling right hand man and odious comic relief. Also known as the Token Black Alien-Guy. The DVD cover describes him as “hilarious and deceptive”, easily justifying a lawsuit for false advertising.
Carlo (Kim Coates). Jonnie’s sidekick, a caveman prone to grunting like an ape whenever he’s surprised. Unfortunately, everything surprises him. Which makes him an ideal sidekick to Jonnie, come to think of it.
Robert the Fox (Richard Tyson). In the book, he’s the leader of the last remaining Scotsmen on the planet. In the film, he’s the leader of a tribe of forest warriors, and a damn fast learner, especially when it comes to piloting Harrier jets. One of many indicators that the screenwriters didn’t bother to read the damn book.
Well, this is it. The big one. One of the most requested movies from readers of this site and, in fact, one of the films that first got me interested in bad movie riffing in the first place.
Ah, Battlefield Earth. Of all the bad movies I’ve read about, this one has by far attracted the most hatred and contempt. It’s absolutely synonymous with terms like “ill-advised”, “ego project”, “monumentally stupid” and, of course, “box-office bomb of massive proportions”. I spent literally entire nights reading up on this movie, trawling through cyberspace for articles and reviews, and in all that time I found not one single website that said one positive thing about this movie—and bear in mind that I’ve actually found fans of Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings. The one with the disco-balls and Sam the Gay Crack-Baby hobbit. There are plenty of people who think that film is a classic, but nobody is crazy enough to be a fan of Battlefield Earth.
The warning signs, of course, are there for all to see. For one thing, this movie is a vanity project. In other words, it was made because of the obsessive drive of One Man Following His Dream. And though this will sound incredibly cynical and misanthropic even for yours truly, this movie just goes to show that following your dream isn’t always a good thing.