I originally wrote a review about this movie after only seeing parts of it. Since I figured that this was unfair and nobody should review a movie without watching it entirely, I forced myself to watch it. Oh boy. First, a summary of my old first review:
Battlefield Earth was on TV together with another movie that I wanted to watch. The description for both movies looked interesting, but after zapping regularly between the two, it seemed that BE was just horrible. Every time I switched back from the other movie, it was as if nothing had happened. All the scenes looked the same, the action scenes were bad, the dialogue was horrible, and for some reason the movie almost made me feel nauseous. It was like having those typical nightmares I often have when I have a fever, where everything repeats endlessly. So, eventually I stopped switching channels and watched the other movie.
Now, after having seen it in its entirety, I'm feeling relieved that the rating I originally gave was fully deserved. I rarely give a minimum score, but BE is a perfect example of rare awfulness: it gets a solid one.
The whole thing is just directed and produced horribly. Let me put this straight: the story on itself is preposterous — I'll come back to this later on. Yet, even a stupid story can make a thrilling movie, but Battlefield Earth is not an example of this. The action scenes are all awful: it's often impossible to see what happens. The film is full of slow-motion shots, but they are used at all the wrong moments. One would expect that close-ups and slow-motion would be used to focus on the action, but not here: the camera often seems to shy away from the actual action. Judging from the poor special effects that can sometimes be seen when the camera does show some action, they probably just avoided using SFX altogether. The pacing is also completely off: scenes just drag along, and are then followed by a pile-up of action. Some transitions are so abrupt that it seems like large parts were left on the cutting table, but even those parts that survived are all poorly directed. Most of the film is tinted in an exaggerated blue hue, which makes all those scenes look like the same scene all over again. The entire movie feels like an episode of a bad sci-fi TV show from around 1990, stretched to almost two hours.
Funny enough, I found a perfect explanation as to why Battlefield Earth made me nauseous the first time I watched it. There is almost NO scene in the ENTIRE movie where the camera is NOT tilted. Really, what were they thinking? It may look cool when used now and then, but it's just ridiculous if *every* shot is tilted at a random angle. Sometimes subsequent shot changes will make the image tilt from left to right and vice versa, so it is entirely possible that watching this film will induce seasickness. This is not the only thing about the camera-work that is awful: there is an overuse of close-ups, and often half of an actor's face is cut off (partially due to the tilting). Sometimes we also get close-ups of random objects as if they are of great significance, but they aren't.
The acting is bad, not abysmally bad but bad enough not to be able to compensate for the rest of the awfulness. Travolta does a decent job but fails to drag this film out of the abyss.
The special effects probably looked OK back in 2000, except for the 'blaster' shots which would only have managed to awe an audience in 1980. But even the other effects look very dated now, it's hard to believe that movies like The Matrix are even older than Battlefield Earth. There is an obvious reference to the 'falling through glass' scene from Blade Runner at the start of the movie, but it is filmed so poorly that it was more like an insult to BR than a homage.
Now, by far the worst thing about this movie is its plot. It's not just full of gaping holes, even with all the holes patched it still is an insult to viewers. Battlefield Earth is rated PG-13 but ironically enough, the only people who might appreciate it would be at most twelve years old because they might still be able to muster enough suspension of disbelief. The first two thirds of the film are not entirely ridiculous, and could have been saved by an awesome ending. However, the actual ending was ten times worse than the most preposterous thing I have ever seen in any other movie. Even the "nuking the fridge" scene from Indiana Jones 4 seemed plausible in comparison. Even though I rate Battlefield Earth a 1, meaning "never ever watch this", I would still recommend watching it if you want to see amazing stupidness. Mind that the rest of the movie will make you hurl, but if you enjoy laughing at ridiculousness that wants to take itself seriously, it could be worth it.
The only thing that is remotely OK is the musical score, but only when considered on its own. Some scenes where nothing of much importance happens are accompanied by music that would be appropriate during a frantic fighting scene. By the time the actual fighting begins, the music fails to add any tension no matter how thrilling it is.
Overall, Battlefield Earth is a complete failure, and it deserves to be in the Bottom 100.
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