Battlefield Earth

By Mark Ramsey | 2000/05/13

It’s the year 3000: Earth has been conquered by aliens, and those of us who remain are savages, living in caves with tattered clothes, long slimy hair, and high class British accents.

British accents?

Except for the accents, this is a profile of NFL season ticket holders!

battlefieldearth_travolta.jpgJohn Travolta is the alien chief of security, meaning he’s both the leader of Earth and the guy you sign in with before boarding the elevator. John’s from the planet Psychlo, where most plots are repsychlo’d from movies far better than this.

John’s people are a race of aliens who look like they could headline VH1′s Divas 2000. With more bad attitude than Whitney Houston, they have immense Marge Simpson noggins and John Malkovich-sized foreheads.

Instead of hands, they have huge, awkward monster paws designed, I presume, to suggest those campy sci-fi yarns of yore where the alien was a guy in a gorilla suit and a space helmet. With supersized fingers like these, they must have keyboards the size of Texas!

And don’t forget the monstrous black platform shoes: This is a race of beings itching to tour with TLC! “I command: No scrubs!,” says T-Boz Travolta.

It’s hard for John to be fearsome because he may look scary, but he still talks like a guy who could mix it up with Olivia Newton John at any moment.

Battlefield Earth is based on the book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and the L sure don’t stand for “literary giant,” I’ll tell you.

The only thing I like about this movie is that people are afraid of it! They fear it will bewitch them into a deep trancelike state from which they will emerge a peace-loving soul with cult-like spiritual obsessions like Kirstie Alley and that they, too, will one day thank Parker Stevenson for giving them “the big one.”

Sorry, I don’t think this movie has anything to do with religion, cultish or otherwise. Although it was directed by Roger Christian. Christian? Is that some kind of code?


Somewhere along the way, Battlefield Earth crosses the line between homage and ripoff. Maybe it’s the Blade Runner production design. Maybe it’s the Matrix-ian shot of the hero running down the corridor in slo-mo as stuff explodes all around him. Oh who even cares!

I couldn’t figure out what was going on in this movie. One minute our hero is captured, then he’s in a cage, then he’s mining for gold, then he’s robbing Fort Knox, then he’s flying a Harrier Jet. And I’m not even making up any of that! By the way, your car may die in seven years, but thousand-year-old Harrier Jets still fly like a dream. That’s workmanship!

Our hero and his clan apply magical nose-guards so as to breathe in the alien atmosphere. It’s still hard to breathe, but at least their complexion is free of all unsightly blackheads.

In the most bizarre scene, Rasta John turns down the Reggae and allows our human hero to escape. That’s so he can track the guy and find out what a human’s favorite food is, thus turning Battlefield Earth into a reality programming concept for the Food Network. “Stupid humans,” says T-Boz Travolta, “Trix are for kids!”

Though the vast majority of our civilization has not survived, it’s good to know that most of our clichés are alive and well in the year 3000. There’s “I’m right on his tail,” and “We’ve got company!” Somewhere on the cutting room floor John greets his alien buds with “Whazzuuuuh!”

By the end of this movie, we learn many lessons:

• Savages can achieve amazing things

• Lust for gold will be your undoing

• Don’t bother with the extended service plan on your Harrier Jet

• Your descendents will have nostrils clear of all blackheads

• When you visit the Library of Congress and find it in shambles, the Declaration of Independence will still be easily accessible

With a few more stinkers like this in the can, Kelly Preston’s gonna have to add a waitressing job.

Sorry, John. While this battle rages, the audience should sound retreat.


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