Battlefield Earth - 2000
Director(s): Roger Christian
Writer(s): Corey Mandell and J.D. Shapiro (screenplay) / L. Ron Hubbard
Cinematography by: Giles Nuttgens
Editor(s): Robin Russell
Cast: John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forrest Whitaker, Kim Coates, Sabine Karsenti and Michael Byrne
Synopsis: After enslavement and near extermination by an alien race in the year 3000, humanity begins to fight back (IMDB).
Ok, so a brief background on this movie. The screenplay is based on a novel of the same name by the all mighty L. Ron Hubbard. To some he is a poor man’s sci-fi writer, to some he is a boat captain, to some he is a hat enthusiast and to many he is the founder and creator of the Church of Scientology. The novel was published in 1982, thirty-two years after the church was founded. During the late 90s one of the main faces of this church was the very famous and talented John Travolta, and he became the champion of this script. He saw it in the same vein as Star Wars and ended up bankrolling it with millions of his own money to see it come to life. And it definitely came to some sort of life. Let’s jump in and maybe things will become clear for us.
Quick note: knowing the background, I always found it weird that Travolta chose to play the bad guy.
This movie opens and we are introduced to our protagonist, his father dies, he buries him, he questions all the beliefs of the village (demons waiting to kill them), gets wet, and abandons the village in hopes of fertile lands. Sounds like a solid first act that sets up our world, but all this happens within a minute, helped by Power Point transition animation moving us from scene to scene. He meets another clan and, lo and behold, he runs into the slow-motion demons he was warned during the pivotal set-up minute. They are captured and now our hero can suck it. This is what you get for doubting your beliefs.
Things aren’t clear just yet.
So, who are these “demons”? Well it’s John Travolta and his executive assistant Forrest Whitaker, along with their friends in bad make-up, a lot of hair and circus high heels. Oh, they also have huge hands and they overact every single line of dialogue. Almost all of their lines end in a high pitch manner or an alien manner, uuuuuUuu. They call the humans, “man-animals”, you know because they are so above us, even though they talk about corporations, promotions, contract negotiations, and academic achievements. Travolta gets screwed over when he doesn’t get the promotion he was waiting for, since he banged the senator’s daughter. Oh, and they believe in hell… so maybe there is some fenagling of these demons being Catho… never mind.
Things are slightly clearer now.
Quick note: Travolta has a huge fake penis too. I mean huge. Apparently, these aliens are packing heat.
Travolta is pissed he didn’t get the promotion and I get it. If I was wearing circus high heels for all these years only for it to not payoff in a standard 3% raise and an extra week of vacation I would also be pissed. So his plan is to free some of the “man-animals”, including our heroes, to study them and find out what their favorite food is. Our hero eats a rat, because that’s all they could find, and Bingo we now know that their favorite food – the ultimate leverage over the man-animals – is RATS! “Look at them, how slowly they eat their rat!”. You can’t write this! Well, I mean, somebody did, and then they filmed it and they acted it and people paid to see this in the theaters.
Maybe things aren’t as clear as I thought.
Fast forward a bit. Travolta gives knowledge to our protagonist so it’s easier for him to train him and fit him into his masterplan of getting his promotion. Honestly, I have no clue what his plan is, but his laughter implies it is evil. But little does he know that he gets TOO MUCH knowledge and the man-animal starts to devise his own escape plan with his fellow man-animals. He is trained to fly spaceships, to mine, to do math and understand all the knowledge we now come to take for granted. Some more than others.
We’re back on the clear path.
Quick note: while this movie is set in the year 3000, they go to Fort Knox and break into the vault to get all the gold out and pretend they mined it out of the mountains. They also go to another Fort in Texas and get a shit ton of guns, jets, bombs and supplies that are in perfect conditions. Screw-you, “science”, our materials last forever. Oh, and this happens:
So, the escape plan of the man-animals is underway and its all-out war. A third act action sequence for the ages in which CGI spaceships battle CGI fighter jets that the man-animals learned to fly in seven days. What the hell is wrong with our armed forces? How long is the training today? Everyone should be up in the air by next Monday at the latest. We have man-animals fighting in the streets, using their newly acquired guns, easily fending off the aliens that have trained all their lives in combat and the art of gunfire.
Once you start seeing things clearly nothing can stop you!
The movie ends with a man-animal wining and Travolta locked up at Fort Knox with all the gold in the world. I guess the message is freedom over material things or something like that. I won’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t make enough money. The only thing that honestly makes me curious about this entire thing is, who was it that during the pre-production phase said: “They have huge dicks.”. Because if there has ever been a studio note that deserved to go to the hall of fame is that one. Getting clear is why I love movies.
Battlefield Earth is currently playing on Netflix. Bring our bartender friend and watch it.
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