Battlefield Earth



Many people knock Battlefield Earth and with good reason: there are enough barn door wipe cuts to embarrass a freshman film student. This Earth is fallow to be sure but it’s nowhere near as creatively barren as people make it out.

To wit, a commenter of Den of Geek said it “would’ve been good with decent editing, acting and a script.” Too true! Still, if it were made by Bruno Mattei it would easily be among his Top 3 films.

Surprisingly, this starts out in sword and sandal territory as we’re introduced to primitive villagers whose familiarity with technology would impress any Visigoth. They’re warned against exploring too far from their encampment and too close to that “great god village,” which is the remnants of a nearby city skyline.

Barry Pepper channeling Ewen McGregor is the alpha male villager — Jonnie (mankind has lost touch with modern technology and the use of the letter “h”) and dares to venture outside the gates. Bad move, it turns out, as he and his companions are airlifted to a prison in Denver, which is now lying in ruins but is home to a “human processing centre.” This prison is run by aliens known as Psyclos, an “advanced” people who wear platform boots and share a wardrobe stylist with Amy Winehouse and Rob Zombie and are using humankind as forced labor.

Battlefield_earth_posterHead of security is none other than John Travola as Terl, with a second-in-command Ker (Forest Whitaker) who looks like a black Bert Lahr from Wizard of Oz. Disappointed by his Earth posting and looking to get out on another assignment, Terl’s superiors doom him to several more tours of duty in Colorado. With nothing but time on his hands he blackmails Ker into keeping the proceeds of a human gold mining venture to himself.

However, these humans are resourceful. When Jonnie is placed in a “knowledge machine,” to train him in the finer points of resource extraction, he becomes acquainted with, well, all human achievement up to and beyond the Enlightenment and he tries to explain Euclidian geometry to his dumfounded colleagues who’ve barely mastered fire and Stone Age tools.

A little knowledge is indeed a generous thing as he and the imprisoned humans “get leverage” on their captors (the phrase “leverage” is used repeatedly. Must be some kind of Scientology nonsense).

Human resourcefulness involves these 5th century beings learning how to fly what should’ve been long-mothballed US Air force aircraft, and finding ways to detonate improvised explosive devices, to attack their colonizing Psychlo overlords.

For an advanced race of prison guards, Psyclos don’t fare too well. Not only do they believe humans enjoy eating raw rat (guess their knowledge machines weren’t tuned to learning anything about humankind) their technology is bested by cheesy 20th century weaponry.

Battlefield Earth is uproarious fun. Dismal dialogue, lots of cackling, double-crossing, terrific costumes and absolute absurdity at every turn.

***1/2 (out of 5)

Published by Really Awful Movies

Genre film reviewers covering horror and action films. Books include: Mine's Bigger Than Yours! The 100 Wackiest Action Movies and Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons.

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