Battlefield Earth (2000)


Directed by Roger Christian

Written by L. Ron Hubbard, Corey Mandell, J.D. Shapiro

Tagline: “Prepare For Battle”

Run Time: 119 minutes

Review by Karl Hoegle

This “movie” starts out with exciting slime green lettering informing us that it is now the year 3000, and Earth has been ruled for the past 1,000 years by a race of aliens known as the Psychlos. They came here and defeated the armies of Earth in less than 15 minutes, as they are just so advanced, don’t ya know? They need heavy metal for their economy, and so enslaved mankind while they mine ore and teleport it back to their home planet via an industrial sized transporter.

Right off the bat I have a problem with this, as we of Earth have huge amounts of heavy metals making up the skeletons of our skyscrapers, easily taken apart and cut into transportable pieces. Also, the Psychlos obviously have space flight, so why not mine the asteroid belt? It would be much easier to get at valuable mineral deposits and to pick and choose which types of metal you want to extract.

Anywhoo, Man is now an endangered species (according to whom?) and dresses in furs and other animal skins. A tribe of humans live in the hills of what was once Colorado and Johnny Goodboy Tyler (Our Hero, Barry Pepper!) is off trying to find medicine to save his ailing father. He returns upon horseback with a small pouch of herbs, and races to save his dying dad. A beautiful woman clad in furs informs us that his father was “Taken by the Gods at night” and he is too late. Johnny puffs out his scrawny chest and yells “NO!” and flings the rare, valuable medicinal herbs away; presumably as they have little shelf life and no one else will need them in the near future. Or he is just an idiot.

Later on, inside their cave with no less than 5 open pit fires (I hope they know a little about ventilation!) Johnny begs the tribal elder to allow the group to leave the caves and migrate to where there is more food. (Note: No one seems thin, and all the fur clad extras on the set are busy preparing food at various times during Johnny’s tirade). The elder says no, they must stay to please the Gods above who will come and wipe out the Psychlos and return Man to his former selfish glory.

Our Hero leaves this cavernous paradise, and Chrissy (formerly known as the beautiful woman clad in furs) wants to join him. He tells her no. Our Hero gallops off into the sunset (an odd time of day to start his quest, but what the hey.) He gets about 50 feet and is attacked by an immobile, unmoving fiberglass dinosaur that looks just like the scary cave drawing that terrifies the tribe. His groping hand finds a metal golf club that he uses to smash a few good licks to this terrifying beast, and he realizes that this is what his people are so afraid of and laughs. He is in a mini golf park that is 1,000 years old and the fiberglass constructs are still intact and painted. Instead of going back and bringing the tribe to see this and exposing their silly fear, he goes on, keeping the 1,000 year old golf club as a weapon. (It must be good, it laid in an open field exposed to the elements for 1,000 years and didn’t get as much as a speck of rust.

He then meets two brigands who he befriends with offers of extra food (I thought that food was scarce?) and they go to a long deserted mall to become good friends, exchanging a piece of glass that they think is magic for their supper. This dinner is interrupted by a being wearing a leather trench coat walking on concealed stilts, wielding an odd gun. He shoots them, and Johnny’s horse for good measure. At times the beam disintegrates what it hits, and at other times it only stuns people. The Psychlo alien in its first appearance, ladies and gentlemen! He drags them out to his ship, and departs for the alien stronghold. The alien lands inside a huge glass dome, and alien air is pumped into the landing bay. The humans choke on this, and an alien comes and gives them a nose pinching device that converts their air into something breathable to humans.

This was once Denver, and as soon as the door to the cage opens our Hero Johnny makes a run for it, grabs a guards’ gun, and shoots him. He then drops said gun, and runs yet again, only to be snatched up by Ker (Forest Whitaker) and Terl (John Travolta) who carry him one armed back to the landing area to demand an explanation as to why the Man Animal is running loose. The guards seem pretty calm, seeing as how this animal killed their buddy with ease, and now the chief of security is there demanding to know why they didn’t run after it and catch it. Instead of telling the truth (They are walking on concealed stilts and it is excruciating to walk anywhere, much less run), they feign amazement that he killed their buddy. Terl doesn’t believe that a Man Animal could kill a Psychlo, so he gives the other guards’ gun to Our Hero who shoots the other guard as well. Terl looks faintly impressed with this new knowledge, and says (I kid you not!) “Well, I’ll be damned”. Then they all start laughing.

After a bit of running about, Our Hero gets put in front of a training machine with holographic aliens who teach Johnny boy everything from Euclidian geometry ( I guess that no matter what planet you are from, the being who invents Euclidian Geometry is fortuitously named Euclid.) to Psychlo security codes and language. The special effects are top notch throughout the movie, so you can’t fault the SFX team. At one point the transporter device is engaged, and Johnny watches the alien numbers count down and I laughed as I saw that the number “10” was written in Psychlo language as “LO” and the number “2” is exactly the same, as is the number “1”. The other numbers are mostly similar, but anyone with an I.Q. above 40 can easily figure it out.

Alien school

Johnny goes to Alien school. Notice the cool special effects.

The Head Honcho Zeet from Corporate Psychlo shows up and is instantly brown nosed by Terl, who smarmily asks about his promotion. After a bit of obtuse innuendo, Terl is told that since he fooled around with some corporate bigwig’s daughter, he is stuck on Earth forever doing the same job. Bad news for Ker, as he was next in line for the chief of security job that Terl has. What is hilarious is the way the actors flail their arms to keep their balance as they walk, as the stilts they wear are plainly audible. Terl and Ker cook up a plan to use humans to mine the ore needed, and since they are slaves, they won’t have to pay them anything. Terl gets Ker on videotape outlining the plan, so he can use it as leverage in case he needs to blackmail him later.

Terl teaches Johnny to fly their ships against Corporate policy, and takes Johnny and a bunch of slaves to a gold vein that was uncovered by a recent Earthquake. Colorado is not known as a tectonically unstable area, but I guess in a thousand years that could change. The Psychlos cannot get near the ore, as it is radioactive and turns the air they breathe into poison. Terl tells Johnny to get the payload of gold in seven days, or he will use a remote control collar to blow off the head of his girlfriend Chrissy.

Our Hero sets out after stopping off at a public library to look at a few books that weren’t turned to dust by silverfish, termites, etc. and finds that Fort Knox was the repository of most of America’s gold, and decides to use this gold to stave Terl off while he trains his buddies. They break into Fort Knox with laughable ease, as they pass only 2 armored doors that I frankly could get past given power tools and a few hours. They load up the ship, drop it off at the mine, and travel to Texas to find a supply depot with mothballed Harrier jets, machine guns, ammo, bazookas, and the like. There is a generator at work somewhere, as the lights work and the training machine still works like a champ after 1,000 years of disuse. Riiiiight!

Fort Knox

Door number one at Fort Knox

Fort Knox Vault

Vault door at Fort Knox

After raiding the depot for millennium old munitions that of course still work, they take a nuclear warhead that they plan to use to blow up the Psychlo home planet. Seriously, this thing is the size of a watermelon, and it will destroy the entire enemy home planet. Apparently L. Ron forgot that science fiction starts with science. I can forgive millennia old Harrier jets starting right up and a generator that kept going for all that time, but there is no way that a single bomb of that size could do one millionth of the damage needed. By the way, here is a picture of scenic Psychlo and its moon, which is unnamed.


Windy here in outer space near Planet Psychlo and its unnamed moon.

Yes, those are clouds surrounding the planet and moon. In space. In a vacuum. In this reality. This caused me to swear never to join the Scientologist cult. Anyway, I lost interest after that scene and the usual heroics ensued, people attacked and killed the plodding slow witted alien oppressors with laughable ease, the atomic bomb blew up the entire alien world to its constituent atoms, and even took out their moon. (Which was unnamed.) The Harrier jets come to the rescue, the millennium old bazookas work perfectly every time, and thousand year old gunpowder fire just fine. Johnny keeps both Terl and Ker, the former as a prisoner in Fort Knox, the latter as a turncoat who helps the humans after they blew up his home world.

Atomic Bomb

Atomic bomb that destroyed an entire world.

The End

Karl Hoegle (May 2008)

bad, I labored for 2 days and 4 bottles of Listerine to get the bad taste out of my mouth. This was NOT “so bad that it is good” like an Ed wood movie, or a cheapo Coleman Francis flick, it was bad in that someone should have stopped them loooong before they foisted this onto an unsuspecting public. Except for the special effects and the props, this movie isn’t fit to be called cinema, but more like a logic enema. Rumor has it they had to pay people to see it. I certainly have no problem believing that.”);


11 comments to Battlefield Earth (2000)

  • guts3d

    My friend thought that it would be funny to “find” copies of this stinker and hide them all over my house. I found three so far…

  • Lol…that’s a pretty funny idea. Pretty cruel as well.

  • guts3d

    Found a fourth last night. How many of these did he buy???

  • You know the saying…”With friends like these…”

  • guts3d

    They make great coasters…

  • Tim

    Much as I hate defending this film, the clouds near Planet Psychlo (and its unnamed moon) might be some sort of nebulosity (gas and dust and whatnot). This is still wrong, mind you, as the solar wind from Planet Psychlo’s sun would have blown said nebulosity away millions of years ago, but at least it’s not as stupid as air and clouds in space.

    Also, radiation doesn’t turn Psychlo air into poison; it causes Psychlo air to explode (!!!) This has the side effect of making you wonder why Planet Psychlo (and its unnamed moon) didn’t blow up billions of years ago, what with all the radiation its SUN is hitting it with.

  • monoceros4

    Oh, wow, Battlefield Earth. It made for one of the funniest Rifftrax ever. I did once see the movie without Mike Nelson’s help but I was also intoxicated as hell.

    The Hubbard novel is pretty bad, especially in its second half (not covered in the movie), but it does get several things right that the movie gets wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s puzzling how Travolta’s movie remained faithfully to a lot of stupid little details–the crap-lousy crappy use of “crap” all the time, the obsession with “leverage”, silly terms like “man-animal” and “rat-brain” and “kerbango”–but screws the larger story up. To name one important thing: the Psycho garrison in the book does not keep a slave population of humans and, in fact, most of them have never seen a human or know the smallest thing about them. When Terl captures Jonnie and tries to train him, the other Psychlos basically think he’s indulging an odd whim to play with a novel sort of pet. Terl knows scarcely more about humans than they do and has to improvise a lot. But the movie decides rather to go for The Ten Commandments cliches while keeping aspects of the story that only make sense if the Psychlos are genuinely ignorant even of what humans look like. Instead we have Terl knowing about mankind’s “advanced technology” while at the same time he acts like “man-animals” are too stupid to breathe without help.

    I’ve heard that an earlier cut of the movie had more Travolta in it. I’d love to see that. Terl’s combination of boundless self-conceit and bottomless stupidity, played by a second-rate actor who seems to think he’s Hans Gruber matching wits with John McClane when he actually sounds like Norma Desmond playing queen bitch to Joe Gillis. The Great Ruler from Plan 9 conveyed more authority than the whiny Terl.

  • Guts3d

    I tried talking my 2 daughters into watching this stinker with the Rifftrax, and they declined. I guess I’ll have to suffer it alone…

  • guts3d

    I just realized something; once they mined the gold, it would have absorbed so much radiation that it would be poisonous to the Psychlos and make their air explode! What good would gold be that explodes as soon as it is exposed to your atmosphere?

  • Guts3d

    Another thing that bothered me; Johnny sketched a picture of his girlfriend Chrissy (formerly known as the beautiful woman clad in furs)on a piece of deerskin. Terl finds this, and somehow connects this poorly done sketch with the actual Chrissy and uses her against Johnny as leverage by placing an exploding device around her neck.

    What are the odds? Terl offhandedly states earlier somewhere that all Man Animals look alike, yet he is able to use a deerskin sketch of a woman to track her down.

  • Guts3d

    Yet another thing; Psychlos have 6 fingered hands, which should have them counting in base 12, not base 10 like 5 fingered humans.

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