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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

Battlefield Earth (2000)

[4.5 turkeys]

I decided while watching this movie that I would not do a blow-by-blow recap of it for the review. I decided this not just because I was tired and wanted to go to bed instead of writing a review of this horrific movie, but also because doing a blow-by-blow description would mean that I'd have to actually relive this monumental piece of turd one more time, and I just wasn't willing to do that. So instead, I'll just hit the high points and leave the worst of it for your own imagination.

The movie opens with a crawl explaining how it's the year 3000 and man is an endagered species because these nasty brutish aliens called Psychlos came and took over a thousand years ago. To make sure the point is driven home, not only does the opening crawl clearly state that man is an endagered species, the filmmakers saw fit to have a subtitle after the crawl also pointing this out.

We start off with a hero on a white horse who likes to express emotion by yelling, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" This is really all you need to know about this guy, and that's a good thing, because it's about the only bit of information the movie sees fit to tell us about him. He's part of a tribe of primitive people who are scared of the "demons from the sky." One day our hero decides to sally forth and, uh.... Well, who knows precisely what he was going to do. What he actually ends up doing is beat up a large plastic dinosaur and trying to eat a golf ball at his local overgrown mini-golf course.

He meets up with two unwashed random guys from another tribe, and they fight over a rabbit and some gods for a bit until they decide to take our hero back to their "city of the gods," which is just some random ruined human city from a thousand years ago. They all camp out in a ruined shopping mall, in which our hero walks face first into a glass display case that has one thousand years of dirt, dust, and grime built up on it, making it practically opaque. Worse, the mannequin inside it is brightly dressed and quite obviously an obstruction, so even if you buy that our hero didn't see the thousand year old dirty glass, it's hard to believe he was just planning on walking right into that mannequin.

A Psychlo randomly shows up to capture these three men, and we get another scene in which the hero gets to yell "NOOOOOOOOOO!" thus reminding us of his distinguishing characteristic. He also gets shot in the back and runs through four or five plate glass windows without getting so much as a scratch.

The three men get flown away on some weird flying machine along with some other random humans. When they reach the Psychlos' city they start to choke from the strange atmosphere inside the dome until one of the Psychlos helpfully gives them all breathe-rite strips which magically makes it all better. Just to show how intensely inquisitive (also stupid) our hero is, he puts on his strip, breathes normally, then takes it off and starts choking again, just to convince himself that it actually is the breathe-rite strip doing the magic. To be truthful I don't really blame him -- if someone told me I could breathe a poisonous alien atmosphere just by strapping on a breathe-rite strip, I'd be a little dubious too.

Our hero then gets led off the plane, where he promptly bumps into a Psychlo, steals his gun, and shoots him. Just like that. He just sort of bumps into the guy, and next thing you know, HEY, he's got his gun and the alien is on the ground. In an effort to capitalize on his sudden fortune, he runs around aimlessly for the next minute or so until he gets recaptured. Here we finally meet our main bad guy.

John Travolta dressed up in platform boots and a really bad hairdo is probably the last thing the world needed to see again, but here it is. John's character, Terl, is dubious about the claim of his subordinate that this "man-animal" stole a Psychlo's gun and shot him with it, so he demands a demonstration. Our hero manages to duplicate the trick, to which Terl replies, "I'll be damned."

After this we get a bunch of scenes that go basically nowhere but somehow manage to get across the basic idea of the plot, such as it is. Terl is stuck on Earth mining gold because apparently he did something untoward with a senator's daughter back home, and now he's being punished. So he hatches a plan with one of his subordinates to train some man-animals to mine gold in a place where Psychlos can't go and reap the profit for themselves. Somehow. Also, we get this brief view of the Psychlo homeworld, and the shot is basically a direct rip-off of the opening sequence of Blade Runner.

So, basically, here's what happens. Terl takes our hero and a handful of other men out to mine gold. He does this by tricking them into revealing that man's favorite food is uncooked rat and using this to blackmail them. He then thoughtfully trains our hero to speak Psychlo, and also to do Euclidian geometry and molecular biology (all of which have direct application to gold mining, obviously), by shooting a beam of education directly into his eyes. Then he leaves all the man-animals alone together for no particular reason, and they of course use the hero's new-found knowledge to try to escape. They guess the code to the door on the second go but manage to not actually escape because just then Terl decided to come back or something.

Terl keeps trying to feed our hero uncooked rats to get him to cooperate, but our hero is far too smart for this, and instead he steals some unloaded guns and leads an unsuccessful revolt against Terl and his associate. In order to put any further ideas of revolt out of our hero's head, Terl takes him to the Denver Public Library, where he lets him read any book he wants (he of course chooses a copy of the Declaration of Independance) for about four minutes while he explains that when the Psychlos invaded a thousand years ago, humans put up a fight for exactly nine minutes before they were conquered, so that's how Terl knows that no man-animal will ever get the best of any Psychlo, so obviously our hero just shouldn't bother trying.

To further drive the point home, Terl then rounds up all the humans and takes them out to a field and shoots the legs off cows to show what a great shot he is. He even does this nifty behind-the-back shot to really impress the hell out of everyone. Suddenly out of nowhere a bunch of barbarians attack, and Terl gets overpowered. The humans bicker about what to do with him for like eight years, while nobody even bothers to watch the guy. Thankfully, Terl apparently didn't feel like escaping anyway, so he didn't even try to run off or overpower the one human with an actual weapon while nobody was looking. It's all for the best anyway, as our hero gives Terl back his gun in order that he might remain his slave long enough so he can put together a proper revolt and free all humans everywhere or something.

To repay him for this wonderful bit of insanity, Terl kills one of the barbarians. Then he produces our hero's girlfriend out of thin air and uses her to get him to do what he wants, since that whole uncooked rat thing just went nowhere. Then he goes back to the Psychlo city and blackmails and double-crosses a couple of more people, because, hey, since he's on such an incredible roll, he can't lose, right? Meanwhile our hero gets thrown into the pens back in the city again, where he again foments revolution. But now, apparently, he has an actual plan.

The plan is this. Instead of mining gold like Terl wants him to do, instead he's going to fly all the way from Colorado to Kentucky and get the gold out of Fort Knox. (Apparently even though the Psychlos' one stated reason for taking over Earth was to get at our gold, they never bothered to get all the damn gold out of Fort Knox before they moved on to mining it for themselves.) Then he's going to fly to Texas and pick up a nuclear bomb and some fighter jets and go fight the Psychlos. Wait, did I forget to mention that Terl actually TAUGHT him how to fly earlier?

The best part is, this actually WORKS. The movie mercifully ends with this horribly convoluted fight scene in which barbarians fly Harrier jets and shoot down Psychlo flying machines while our hero teleports one solitary nuclear bomb back to the Psychlo home planet and reduces the entire thing to dust. I only wish I were kidding about any of this.

Probably the worst thing about this movie is that it made me actually want to try to read the L. Ron Hubbard book it was supposedly based on, just to see if the book was THAT damn bad or if the filmmakers are even crazier than old L. Ron himself. I suspect a little of both, frankly.

Scene to watch for: Terl walks into the ceiling.

Best line: "We're going to need a few extra supplies before we can do that."

Things that make you go "Huh?": What does molecular biology have to do with gold mining again?

View this movie's entry at the Internet Movie Database.

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