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Battlefield Earth

Rated [PG-13], 130 minutes
Starring John Travolta
Screenplay by Corey Mandell and J D Shapiro
Based on the novel by L. Ron Hubbard
Directed by Roger Christian

IN SHORT: Things that start with the letter "B": Battlefield Earth and Bomb.

IN SHORTER: Makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Star Wars

IN SHORTEST: Ed Wood Smiles

And now the news: It is twenty two years since Ed Wood's death and nineteen more than that since Wood created what is acknowledged by many to be the worst movie of all time, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Rumor has it that somewhere six feet under Californian soil, the corpse of Ed Wood is exhibiting a huge smile of satisfaction, having heard the hysterical howls of the crowd watching Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 with Cranky. In other news, Tim Curry will curse the name John Travolta forevermore, for upstaging Frank N. Furter with his portrayal of Terl, the Psychlo.

Average story. Awful score. Awful sound effects. Awful editing. Awful sound. Average visual effects. Godawful scenery chewing acting. If ever a movie was meant to be shown at midnight, it is this one.

See if this sounds familiar: aliens at a bar; a hero who dives down a sewage chute; fearsome aliens; one very tall alien in black; spaceships dogfighting; a planetary explosion for a dramatic climax and a sexy, siren with a tongue whose length proves that Gene Simmons was the first human to settle an extraplanetary world . . .

. . . OK, maybe L. Ron Hubbard, who published his novel in 1982, wasn't a fan of KISS, but everything else about Battlefield Earth is such a poor cop of Star Wars that it's easy to forget that George Lucas used all the good stuff from Westerns and WWII movies to inspire him. At least Lucas delivered a thrilling, rousing, cheer-until-your-throat bleeds excuse to make five more movies (two yet to come). The producers of Battlefield Earth, star John Travolta included, were already hard at work at a sequel adapting the second half of Hubbard's novel, before the dust had entered the filters on the air conditioning equipment in the theater where this bomb of nuclear proportions was screened for critics and a line of real people that stretched around the corner of the theater in New York City, home of yours truly.

Just proving my oft-stated warning that you shouldn't be working on number two when you're not finished doing number one. In any and all senses of the words.

A thousand years after they conquered the planet in a battle that lasted a whole nine and a half minutes, the Psychlo invaders from the Planet Psychlo, have killed or enslaved most of the native man-animals and mine the planet for its most precious metal, gold. This advanced alien warrior race, with its advanced alien warrior technology which can detect gold from surveillance ships high in the air, can't even figure out, over a thousand years of planetary domination, that the doors to Fort Knox are wide open . . . which will be their downfall.

And that's not giving away anything because this stinker could make Velveeta look like real cheese. Forest Whitaker co-stars as Terl's second in command, Ker, possessing an IQ of half the double digits of his commander. Barry Pepper plays Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, the Savior of Earth, trained in the ways of the Psychlo by Terl himself -- we never said these aliens were smart -- in order to lead human miners into irradiated areas poisonous to their extraterrestrial masters . . .

Said radiation poisoned areas are where the free humans live -- after a thousand years the radiation didn't hurt us so bad. Just one of a long list of items that don't make any sense about the details of this story. Get someone else to buy your ticket for you and bring a thick pad of paper on which to note the discrepancies. You'll have writer's cramp by the time you're done, if you're not crippled by the effects of your own laughter.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Battlefield Earth, he would have paid . . .


Unlike last year's Wild Wild West or The Avengers before that, Battlefield Earth has no equivalent of Salma Hayek parading around in her underwear (or Uma Thurman in the leather catsuit) to make anything about this bomb palatable.

Unless, of course, your name is Letterman or Leno. They could be rocking on this for weeks

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.