Gee Whiz geeks, I wanted this to be at least GOOD, but...
Father Geek read a version of the BattleField Earth script about 2 years ago and it rocked so I was hoping all the badness we have been hearing about was just sourgrapes BS. I went and saw it tonight at Austin's Cinemark Barton Creek with Quint and The Mouth, and... well, shit it is just STUPID, not funny stupid, but incompedent stupid. I loved most of the visuals, but to this longtime(45 years at least) Science Fiction fan the story, the backbone of any film just didn't cut it. Not even close! One giant plot hole after another. Jumbled editing, horrific camera setups, muted colors, and a score that reminded me of Klaus Doldinger's great Das Boot but mixed up with some insane Nash Bridges tracks. How bad was it? Well, the professional Comicbook artist (who watches most anything) sitting next to me got up and left about 20 minutes from the end, he wasn't the only one. Here's what some others thought...
Howdy, Folks! It's amazing how far you can get by approaching the Will Call desk & dropping the name of a film's producer. It got my two friends and I right into the Wolrd Premiere screening of "Battlefield Earth" at MANN'S Chinese Theatre right here in good 'ol Hollywood.
Now we've all read the reviews and we all have our opinions already, so I won't dwell on the movie itself except to say it could have been worse (or could it?) If only everything wasn't shot at such an irritatingly harsh angle. .. and c'mon: suspension of disbelief is what movies are all about but ya gotta keep it logical at least.
Anyway, back to what I was saying; the crowd seemed lively enough. In attendance we the usual suspects associated with Elie Samaha & company: Sylvester Stallone, Tia Carrere (chatting happily with now-ex-husband Samaha,) etc... Mr. Travolta showed up late, after the seventh or eighth dimming of the lights, and he had a seat to my left. Apparantly, he thought we was quite hilarious in the film, in which he did a very good impersonation of Tom Cruise's vampire Lestat, as he laughed out loud several times, disturbing the silence. And at the approriate "pump up the audience" dramatic speeches in the film, he initiated several rounds of applause.
I have to give the man credit. He tried, right? And he got the film made. Which is more than most of us can say. But one would think he would have checked the script before proceeding... whoops. Here I go again.
After the show, we proceeded to the Sunset Room for the after-party where we ran into Forrest Whitaker (a class act all the way and the best part of the film,) and Quentin Tarantino (loud & obnoxious... and what the hell has HE been up to lately?)
The various 'insiders' I managed to speak to and/or eavesdrop on gave away all you need to know: if this film doesn't make $50 million, then Elie and friends are sunk. And the fact everyone we asked "How'd ya like the movie" just sort of smiled, nodded, then in a low voice said "It's really bad, isn't it?" ain't a good sign. One of Elie's employees was heard to say "This should appeal to nine year old boys." If this thing doesn't open at over $15 million...
After partaking in a few libations and a healthy plate of buffet, my fellow sneak & I took our leave, handing a couple extra party tickets to some homeless people on the way out. A friend of mine had said he would not pay a dime to see this film and we were quite happy, in the end, to have instead cos t them money by attending the screening and party.
Until next time,
Max Hunter... Out
Here's what our good Bishop thought about it...
Battlefield Earth by The Bishop Don "Mack" Donald
Based on the science fiction best-seller by L. Ron Hubbard, BATTLEFIELD EARTH should be only viewed as John Travolta’s HUDSON HAWK. A boorish vanity film with little to no discernible storyline and a complete lack of finesse, EARTH is only entertaining when viewed as a vehicle for Travolta’s ego.
Set in the year 3000, BATTLEFIELD EARTH tells the story of Johnny (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN’s Barry Pepper), a "man-animal" who is captured by The Psychlos. The Psychlos are a race of evil (?) aliens who have taken over the planet, enslaved all the humans, and are sucking Earth’s natural resources dry. Terl (John Travolta), a Psychlo security chief, senses the possibilities that the resilient Johnny holds and trains him to act out his evil doings. But as Johnny learns the Psychlo ways, he begins to organize a resistance with the other "man-animals" in an attempt to take back the planet Earth. It’s a shame that MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 was canceled, because this film could not have been a better choice to be roasted by that brilliant show.
When I say "evil" aliens, I cannot fully confirm any devious behavior. The story suggests their depraved qualities, and certainly the great character design by Patrick Tatopoulos has a nice corrupt look to it. It’s too bad the Psychlos are more like characters out of DILBERT than a true evil force. The characters spend countless time whining about promotions, impressing the "home office", and working overtime for the corporation that the Psychlos operate for. This is the evil race that took over the Earth? I felt more threatened by Terl’s codpiece than by his incessant workplace complaining. Scenes of the aliens getting drunk in the neighborhood bar and using rather elementary technology (spy cameras?) to blackmail each other are pointless and laughable. Travolta and Co. do a very poor job making the Psychlos the huge threat we are supposed to believe they are.
The first mistake was hiring B-movie director Roger Christian to helm this film. Having long ago cut his teeth in low budgets and poor talent, Christian continues this fine tradition with EARTH. While attempting to mount a grand science fiction spectacle that doesn’t come around much any more, he instead delivers warm Sci-Fi Channel leftovers filmed with an impossible-to-comprehend-just-what-the-hell-is-going-on green and black color scheme and maddening use of "dutch" angles. The man only knows slow motion and glass breaking, and we are asking him to retrieve narrative coherency and decent performances? Christian is a noisemaker, and EARTH raises quite a ruckus.
Try as they might - and both try very hard - both Travolta and Pepper cannot do much with the lame material. Supposedly based on a highly regarded (some say the highest) science fiction novel, the screenwriter Corey Mandell does very little to fashion the 1000+ page book into a playable film. The dialog ranges from bad to worse ("Ratbrain" being a popular put-down), and the action is so erratic, director Christian is forced to rely on screen-wipes to get out of every last scene. If you happen to be a nitpicker, than EARTH is the film for you. Moronic little moments involving "man animals" who learn to fly high tech jets in a day, find Tennessee and Texas with dexterity you don’t find in people who have spent their lives living in Colorado caves; and a subplot involving gold that makes the mind boggle at all the little odds and ends the filmmakers just didn’t care to explain.
The only real bright spot in BATTLEFIELD EARTH is watching Travolta and co-star Forrest Whitaker walk around in their platform boots. Portraying supposedly 9 foot aliens, both actors wobble awkwardly around in footwear that would make KISS sweat bullets. It’s that kind of unprofessionalism that makes EARTH more campy than I’m sure Travolta was intending.
It’s tough to take anything in EARTH seriously, especially when the filmmakers haven’t. Whatever joy Travolta found in this material over the last 20 years of trying to get this film made has obviously not made it up onto the screen. It’s a real shame that such a talented and charismatic actor armed with ripe and expansive material could not hire the right people to make the film work. As it stands, every summer movie season has to have one big, expensive flop. BATTLEFIELD EARTH sure seems like the entry for this summer. 1/10
Now for a comment from Mr. Stinky...
Mister Stinky here from cloudy Los Angeles. I'm a new but dedicated disciple of your church of sanity. I had to write, because my sanity is quickly slipping away after attending a press screening of BATTLEFIELD EARTH in Century City last night.
Is John Travolta nuts? Yes, we know he's a Scientologist, but is he crazy too? After a string of post-PULP FICTION successes he was due for a good, career-threatening mistake, and here it is. BATTLEFIELD EARTH is clearly a movie that should never have been made; if this is any indication L. Ron Hubbard's mastery of the sci-fi genre, Hollywood should stick to William Gibson and P.K. Dick adaptations instead. This movie is an abomination of mythical proportions, derivative on every level, with a script that reeks of dialogue that was probably written by nine-year-olds. Travolta and Forrest Whitaker are absolutely terrible -- Travolta's high-pitched, squeaky voice just doesn't work for this villain (altho I admit, I bought him when he played the baddie in FACE/OFF), and Whitaker's character is a one-dimensional dumbass. There are rip-offs of good movies like PLANET OF THE APES and STAR WARS, and even bad ones like INDEPENDENCE DAY, and every shot is filmed with the camera turned ! cockeyed to one side (I left the theater with a stiff neck from trying to compensate). This movie would never have been made without Travolta, and now maybe some HOllywood suits will re-think this kind of vanity star project. The only chance I give this piece of excrement is as a cult camp classic worthy of MST3K-style lambasting. If this thing cracks the Top 10, credit it to all those Dianetics loons who no doubt will fill up the seats. AAAAAAARGH!
Now some words from Zeta...
This is my first submitted review but hopefully it won't be my last.
I just saw Battlefield Earth tonight at a screening here in San Anto, just down I-35 from all of you in Austin.
But before I get to trashing this movie I want to preface my comments by saying that I am a big sci-fi fan. Since early childhood. So I have a good amount of reference material to base this comparison on.
I also want to say that I watch a lot of other movies, from different genres. So I come into a movie with a critical eye based on these other movies, obviously, as well as my own lived experiences.
My expectations for Battlefield Earth were already very low. I had seen a couple of the trailers and clips on some of the late night shows and didn't find anything too exciting about them.
Still, I wanted to enter with an open mind. It was a free showing so I knew I wouldn't be upset about wasting $15.00 (me + date) on a lousy movie.
Little did I know it would be so bad.
Galaxy Quest was more of an epic. honestly.
Most of you know the story by now. There's this guy who has to save the world from the evil psyclos, bla bla bla, they kick him around for a while, finally he arms the rest of the humans and they win the battle.
The acting was terrible. I did not care for any of the human characters and found Travolta and the rest to be equally uninspired. Actually, they reminded me in many ways of GWAR wannabe's, with silly haircuts and unintentionally humorous grunting sounds. Watch the way they try to walk with the platform boots. Look closely at the face of the bartender to see where they attached the fake hair. Listen to the music they play in the bar: grunting set to a beat.
Unfortunately, the movie as a whole does not provide that much to laugh about. Most of the intentional jokes fall flat, or are real groaners. The direction is flat, with an overemphasis on the amazing effect of slow motion shots over and over again, so that by the time of the climatic finale all the drama was gone-only because we already saw slow-motion shots of our hero riding a horse, eating food, running from the psyclos. The director's lack of creativity in staging his shots is appalling. Almost every scene is shot from an angle: head shots, establishing shots, pov shots. I found myself at an angle most of the movie trying to make sense of what he was doing.
Don't expect special effects or an incredible, breathtaking battle scene either. While the buildup is long and promises little, the end result is even less.
In a word: Dull. Dull. Dull. I cannot remember the last time I saw a movie this bad in a theater.
As far as my comments about coming into a movie with a critical eye.
I enter motion pictures with an expectation that what I am about to watch will present an alternate reality, a reflection of reality, or a vision of a transformative reality. In other words, watching the Matrix I was impressed how the vision of the future was one of empowerment and potential. I was also pleased that they included Blacks and women as important characters. That is one vision of a transformative reality. On the other hand, watching something like The Green Mile was disappointing in this sense because as a reflection of reality (with clearly fantastic elements) it based itself on a premise that I could not find believable. No, not a Christ-like figure. rather, the benevolent, happy-go-lucky guards running death row. In this regards, Battlefield Earth was very problematic. Pay attention to the way that race and gender are portrayed in this vision of the future. Ever notice how future worlds are all white? The only discernible Black humans are killed off without uttering a word. And yes, Forrest Whitaker does play a prominent role, but again, think about what sort of role he plays: the dupe, the patsy, someone who is manipulated by Travolta's character or by Jonnie.
Now take a look at the gender roles in the movie. At the beginning, Johnnie prevents his wife? from joining him on his quest to see what is out in the world. At first his statement was very typical of the 'heroic male'-but he tried to save face, telling her that she was better able to take care of herself than most men, which is why she had to stay home. Imagine if the republicans used this brand of Y3K feminism! I can see it how: "honey, it's not that I think you can't have a career, it's just that you are better than me at it which is why you should stay home and take care of the children." In comparison, the Psyclos are not any different, they're just more upfront about how they view the psyclo women. In other words, a thousand years into the future and men (humans and aliens) are still the same. Think about the statement that Fight Club made about manhood. Think about what American Beauty was saying. Even the conflicting message about the roles of men and women in Star Wars.
Cinema has the ability to alter our perceptions of our social reality, or present them in such a way that we are aware of their existence. Instead of taking a progressive or even active stance in this direction, Battlefield Earth merely rehashes conventional norms. Unfortunately, intellectually, I found this film to be as disappointing as it was boring.
Call me Zeta.
And here's another brief look at this flick...
Enigma Boy here. Tonight, Wednesday, I caught a screening of BATTLEFIELD EARTH at the UA Galaxy in San Francisco. Now, I know you're gonna get a tidal wave of reviews to this screening, so I'll keep it fairly short so you can combine them or something.
Here's a description of Hollywood's newest sci-fi film: Think of a mixture between THE POSTMAN and SOLDIER. Add an annoying villain who cackles the whole movie (Ã la Power Rangers), the tedious narrative nature of I DREAMED OF AFRICA, a bit of scientology, and all the bad parts of JOHNNY MNEUMONIC. You now have a detailed description of everything found in BATTLEFIELD EARTH. In other words, this movie was PRETTY GODAMN AWFUL!!
I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I knew it was going to be stupid, but it might have been fun. This film, unfortunately, is an embarrassing mess. Here's another vivid description of this movie for you readers to ponder: remember the clip Harry put up last month of John Travolta on Leno? Remember the scene he showed with Kelly Preston about the enlarged penis and the long tongue? That's one of the highlights of the movie, if you can believe it.
You might want to see this movie for laughs, and there are plenty of those, 90% unintentional, of course. For instance (and this is in the preview if you want to view it), Barry Pepper, the hero, says, "I say we take this one chance.AND FAAAARRTTTT!" Of course, he's actually saying FIGHT!, but it comes off so poorly that it can only be taken in the wrong way.
Roger Christian, the director, shoots this movie like he was drunk and on crack. Almost every single shot is at an angle! AAAAAAAAAGGHHHH!!
In other words, I hated this movie (although it's a bit livelier than I DREAMED OF AFRICA, thank God).
Signing off, Enigma Boy
And here's one final opinion...
Oh My god, Dr.Jizzum here in San Diego and tonight I got passes to Battlefield Earth and said "Hey What the Hey!" I was not expecting much but I had no idea it was going to be close to Chinese Water Torture, after the 60 minute mark, I had to book it dano, out of the jam packed theater, I was not the only one. 20 minutes into the film, two teenage girls walked out, never to be heard from again.... 35 minute mark....Three people, two guys and one girl walked out...also never to be heard from again....45 minute mark....a guy in front of me got up like he had to take a hurried piss, gone daddy gone, then at 60 minute mark, I felt as though I was going to wilt away and die...ever feel like that during a really bad movie, like the oxygen was gone and it was damned to purgatory if you did not high tail it out of there!
Not since Waterworld or The Avengers did I get this feeling....The movie was a MESS! M...E....S....S.....MESS! Not Only did every shot look like a Nike commercial with the humans running with a angle, Every other Shot was John Travolta's stupid evil laugh...Forest look like a bloated eclair....and Miss Kelly Preston should hook up with La Toya Jackson and practice tongue exercises! This was one of the worst films to splash across the screen like barf in a long time!
It wasn't even campy fun, it was dumb, lame, incomprehensible, and the worst torture anyone can ever endure to mankind, I would be embarressed to invite my friends to this one!
Avoid like the plague!