Battlefield Earth (also referred to as Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000) is a 2000 American dystopian science fiction action film based upon the first half of L. Ron Hubbard's 1982 novel of the same name. Directed by Roger Christian and starring John Travolta, Barry Pepper, and Forest Whitaker. Battlefield Earth was released on May 12, 2000. The movie was a major critical and commercial failure and has been called one of the worst, if not truly the Worst Movie of All Time. It even won almost all of the 2000 Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture of the Year.
A sequel based on the second half of the 1000-page book was planned, but the panning from critics, poor box office performance, and the financial ruin of Franchise Pictures in 2004 killed off plans.
In the year 3000, humanity is no match for the Psychlos, a greedy, manipulative race on a quest for ultimate profit. Led by the seductive and powerful Terl, the Psychlos are stripping Earth of its resources, using the broken remnants of humanity as slaves. What is left of the human race has reverted to a primitive state, believing the invaders to be demons and technology to be evil. After humanity has all but given up any hope of freeing themselves from alien oppression, a young man named Jonnie Goodboy Tyler decides to leave his desolate home high in the Rocky Mountains to discover the truth, whereupon he is captured and enslaved. It is then that he decides to fight back, leading his fellow men in one final struggle for freedom.
Why It Sucks
- The Dutch angles. 95% of the shots are slanted, which only serves to be distracting and annoying. Even the director himself claimed there is only one unslanted shot in the entire movie.
- The acting (especially Travolta and Pepper's) is terrible, with elements of overacting and underacting throughout.
- Psychlos race name is unoriginal.
- Poor script.
- Unconvincing characters development. For example, most of the characters act like morons. At one point, Jonnie tries to destroy a Psychlo ship by throwing a wooden stick at it, a fat hunter jumps off an edge and breaks his ankle.
- Several of the movie's scenes are ripped off from the original Star Wars trilogy, Blade Runner, and The Matrix.
- Unfaithful to the source material. The invaders don't attack Fort Knox like they did in the novel, for example.
- Lackluster CGI effects.
- An awful soundtrack that consists of nothing but a droning noise.
- Overuse of color filters throughout the film, most notably the color blue is used whenever the Psychlos are at their lair.
- Laughable costumes, where both the humans and Psychlos have long, messy hair with dreadlocks similar to that of a metal band. As a result, the Psychlos fail to appear intimidating or convincing and look extremely similar to The Klingons from the Star Trek franchise.
- Lame art designs.
- Many major plotholes. The most memorable one is when Terl is informed by his district manager that he has to stay on Earth for a longer time after having an illicit relationship with the Senator's daughter.
- The Psychlos are idiots, especially Terl. As they literally train their enemy in weaponry and how to fly their ships and don't expect them to fight back.
- The film can be unintentionally funny sometimes.
- Some of the sets have creative designs.
- John Travolta has a funny line when he says "Do you want lunch?".
- The characters laugh a lot.
- The dialogue is more hilarious than serious in the film.
As mentioned earlier, the original plan was to make a sequel to the first film, which was intended to cover the second half of the book itself but was cancelled due to poor critical and audience reception, poor box office performance, and the financial ruin of Franchise Pictures. The premise is unknown, but it supposedly takes place after the Psychlos' war against the humans. The title sequel covering the second half of the book was never given. It was originally given a 2002 release, but it was later changed to 2003 in order to avoid competition with Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
The film had been in production since the early 1980s and in that same time period, John Travolta's career faltered in the mid to late 1980s due to many box office flops. However, Travolta's career got back on track after the release of Quentin Tarantino's blockbuster film Pulp Fiction which he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Despite getting his career back on track, Travolta kept looking for studios to distribute his pet project despite the many times studios (especially MGM and 20th Century Fox) turned down the project. However, Battlefield Earth was picked up by a newly founded film company called Franchise Pictures in 1998 (read more in lower section) which was created by Elie Samaha and was created to help movie stars stalled projects. To put it simply, this movie got stuck in development hell for more than 20 years.
Upon release, Battlefield Earth was heavily panned, and is often considered as one of the worst films ever made. The film has a "rotten" score of 3% based on 148 reviews with an average rating of 2.3 out of 10. The critical consensus states: "Ugly, campy and poorly acted, Battlefield Earth is a stunningly misguided, aggressively bad sci-fi folly". The same site later ranked the film 27th on their "Worst of the Worst (2000-2009)" list for the top 100 worst reviewed films of the 2000's. On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 9 out of 100, based on 33 critics indicating "Overwhelming dislike". The film also holds a 2.4 on IMDb.
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film the rating of half a star out of four and described it as "like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a hostile way. I watched it in mounting gloom, realizing I was witnessing something historic, a film that for decades to come will be the punch line of jokes about bad movies." Leonard Maltin labeled the film a "BOMB" in his book Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide stating, "Clumsy plot, misplaced satire, unbelievable coincidences and a leaden pace trample Travolta's weird but amusing performance." David Bleiler gave the film one star out of four in the TLA Video & DVD Guide, writing: "This is disjointed, tedious and every bit as bad as its reputation." Jon Stewart mocked the film on his television program The Daily Show, describing it as "a cross between Star Wars and the smell of ass".
Battlefield Earth opened at #2 on its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $11,58,898. The film's domestic gross would later go up to $21,471,685. In foreign countries, the film grossed $8,253,978. Overall, the film made $29,725,663 worldwide against its reported $73 million budget. It was later revealed that the actual cost of making Battlefield Earth was $44 million. The film was a box office bomb and the film's failure at the box office led to the end of the film's independent studio Franchise Pictures. They had already suffered losses from this film and their other films disappointing performance at the box office, but their final blow came in 2004 when one of Franchise's investors, the German-based Intertainment AG, filed a lawsuit against them claiming that they had faked the budget for this film to be $75 million when it was actually $44 million. Intertainment won the suit and won $121.7 million in damages, while Franchise Pictures declared bankruptcy after the lawsuit.
Awards and nominations
Battlefield Earth won seven Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture. It was even given a Worst Picture of the Decade Award in 2010 until that record was beaten by Jack and Jill, which won ten Golden Raspberry Awards.
- John Travolta used a lot of his own salary to fund Battlefield Earth.
- In the 100th episode of the Nostalgia Critic when he reviewed this film, he lambasted the film. However, when he made a commentary on the episode as himself, he said that while the film is bad, he actually found it enjoyable to watch. He praised the production design and said Travolta was very entertaining to watch.
- WatchMojo.com called it the worst film of all time. In the updated version of the list of the worst films, it was ranked at #2.
- John Travolta was originally going to star as Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, but since he was too old to star as the protagonist, he was cast as the film's antagonist, Terl.