Battlefield Earth

BattlefieldEarthAn over hyped apocalyptic movie set in the year 3000 that covers familiar territory in the science fiction genre.  Civilization of the planet Earth and good guy lead Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan) encounter a race of dread locked (not to mention sleep deprived based on their appearance) aliens led by John Travolta who spearheads an assault of spaceship chases and war scenes as the Psychlo Chief of Security named Terl.  Pepper makes an admirable hero, but could’ve used a name change (his character is Jonnie Goodboy Tyler).

The special effects are incredible, but the filmmakers make a key mistake when they assume audiences will settle for high amounts of rock ‘em sock ‘em action sequences void of real emotion or purpose.  This element and the overall story should’ve been better because the whole concept revolves around the risk of mankind’s extinction.  You can tell Travolta has a lot of fun in the bad guy role, atypical for the type of characters he plays, but takes the dominating antics of Terl over the top.

The scenery-chewing alien characters make melodramatic assumptions about Earth’s primitive race to prime the story for the overused “lowly hero overcomes tremendous evil odds” storyline.  Pay close attention to how the story initiates this heroic opportunity for Earth’s people in Terl’s interactions with Jonnie Tyler (could Terl be more stupid?).

Other elements of unrealistic character actions and logistics in the story, like missing details of how the aliens invaded and overtook Earth, don’t help the movie either.  This movie goes after the blockbuster audience by making the approach of the story so wide, but falls short by failing to provide a cohesive visual work that audience could follow and engage with genuine interest.

Travolta misfires with his pet project that has admirably directed by the highly respected Roger Christian who among other film honors received an Academy Award as art decorator on the sci-fi classic Alien.  Christian won an Academy Award for his set decoration on the best of all sci-fi films, Star Wars and assisted George Lucas in the filming of Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.

It seems Forest Whitaker took his throw away alien supporting role as the scheming Ker as a favor for his Phenomenon chum Travolta, but still puts in a good performance.  This movie thinks “If you spend it, they will come.”  Sorry no sale (* out of four stars).

This 117 minute movie is rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and is based on a Ron L. Hubbard book of the same name. Author L. Ron Hubbard is also the founder of the Church of Scientology that include John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston in their membership. Not recommended (* out of four stars).

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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