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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 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 man in one final struggle for freedom. Written by
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Bad direction, bad dialogue, an unimaginative and over-done look, laughable plot twists and a collection of average actors struggling to stay afloat amide all the nonsense
It is the year 3000. Many years have passed since the world was conquered by an evil race called the Psychlos in order that they would strip it of its resources just as they had countless other planets. Man has been forced back to the Stone Age, slowly dying out in small, ineffective pockets of resistance around the world. Sent out from his community, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler stumbles across two other survivors who tell him of a place of the gods a place that turns out to be a former city. While resting overnight the group is come across by the Psychlos and both Jonnie and Carlo are captured. A plot by one of the Psychlos to outsmart his bosses (who have deserted him on earth by turning down his bid for a transfer) opens the door for Jonnie to learn a great deal about his new masters and gradually he becomes the last real hope for mankind.
Being a film critic must be a hard job to do at times. Many of the films you watch will not be brilliant, nor will they be terrible most will be OK and nothing more. Therefore when reviewers get a chance to gush, they generally take it. Likewise, when a bad film does come to the big screen and reviewers get to see it, they often will take great pleasure in putting the boot it we see it with at least one big budget film each year (2004 was Catwoman). So I usually will try and view a really panned film because I am aware that sometimes the critics are just being unfair however, most of the time I'll wait until it comes to TV to make that decision. With Battlefield Earth, I must concede that it is a pretty bad film but maybe not as bad as the many critics all said, although it would be easy to just keep kicking it in the same way as everyone else does.
The film does have some very basic ideas that offer potential but these are squandered with a script that bulks out with bad dialogue, poor story development and an overall poor delivery that makes it a film that is certainly a mess, if not 'the worst film of all time'. The story quickly goes wrong by making massive plot jumps with its two threads (Jonnie and Terl) that it quickly becomes tiresome. It is not just that major parts of it make little sense (even if you are trying to get into it) it is also that the film makes it harder for itself by taking itself so seriously. If the film had been exciting and entertaining then I could have forgiven these jumps but the way it holds itself in such high regard means we have to meet it on its own terms something that I found nigh on impossible to do with this. Whenever we are asked to accept that planes would have survived intact over 1000 years, or that anyone could learn to fly them in a matter of days then it is really asking too much if it also expects me to take it 100% seriously at the same time.
The film has clearly had money spent on it, and it isn't that the effects look bad, it is more that they feel over-designed. The Psychlos (cr*p name) look like nobody knew when to stop adding bits and they do look a bit absurd like a Klingon but with more bits! Similarly the transport craft and alien sets all feel like somebody has just ripped off other films and then tried to combine them; the end result is the look of a cheap sci-fi that looks like it is a sci-fi film as opposed to a 'real' futuristic world. It is hard to describe and maybe I'm doing it badly but to me the film looked like the alien future's of a thousand sci-fi movies, not an alien future that exists outside of late night TV and, as such, it was even less engaging. Of course it didn't help that the direction was so ham fisted that Christian should be asked to return his Oscar out of good will. The opening action scene is delivered in a terrible slow motion that sucked all the potential out of it a technique that is sadly used for most of the action scenes. The stuff with the harriers near the end is so silly that even a good director couldn't have saved it; but Christian is not a good director here and he makes it worse and robs it of any excitement or pace it may have had.
With such a poor product to sell to us, even an all star cast would have struggled so imagine the trouble that one fading star and a collection of minor support actors have with it. Travolta tries hard but he can find nothing of value. He looks terrible and his performance is just so obvious and easy there is nothing to watch here, partly due to him but also to the wider failings of the film. Pepper was a very strange choice for such a big role and, try as he might, he cannot get past the absurdity of the whole thing and he comes across as part of the silliness, taking his character way too seriously for the material but I suppose he was only matching the mood of the film. Whitaker has nothing to do and even an appearance from the likable, low-rent baddie Kim Coates brought nothing to the film. I don't even know the rest of the cast by name but suffice to say that none of them can do anything worth seeing.
Overall this is a very poor film and, although I don't wish to join the mob by just kicking it, I didn't find any reason not to. The direction is awful but is at its worst in the action scenes. The effects are not awful, they just feel like generic, overdone sci-fi fare with little or no imagination a big surprise when you consider that the director was nominated for an Oscar for Alien and won one for Star Wars for the very discipline of art direction! The script is clunky and the story full of moments that are, at best, illogical and, at worst, silly, stupid and laughable. The end result is a product that is a real mess with almost nothing of value in it. It is relentlessly shoddy and I almost wish the 'worst film ever' hype would drop off just so that this film could slowly fade from our memory and be lost in time.
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