A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Battlefield Earth

November 20, 2010

Battlefield Earth

Amanda and I are huge fans of the crew at Loading Ready Run so naturally we’re having a wonderful time this week watching their annual childsplay fundraiser Desert Bus For Hope. For at least another one hundred hours they are going to be playing the infamous non-game Desert Bus – driving a bus down a completely barren desert road in real time from Tuscon to Las Vegas and back. And Back again. With nothing whatsoever except the occasional bug splat and the extinguishing of the sun to keep them amused. Well, that and all the chaos of a room full of hilarious people taking challenges from the internet in exchange for charitable donations.

For our movie project we have a number of infamously and truly bad movies set aside. We had intended to do some kind of fund raiser of our own, but were never able to figure out how to get people to donate to watch bad movies which, according to the rules of the project, we were going to have to watch anyhow. We pondered going out to buy bad movies in exchange for donations and reviewing them – but were somewhat afraid of what our readers might inflict upon us. And don’t have money to burn ourselves on bad movies. So instead we’re just going to watch some bad movies in a show of solidarity. If you feel the need to donate please go visit the Desert Bus website and click the donate button there.

I have in fact seen this movie before. I couldn’t resist seeing a movie which swept the Razzies and was so universally panned. And when we found this in a discount bin at our local FYE we figured, well, how could we not? For the children (as the Desert Bus mantra goes.) Particularly amusing is that we bought it for $1.97 and it had c coupon inside for a $2 rebate – if we bought the book as well. So at this point the movie is so much of a joke that the film makers are almost willing to pay people to take the movie away.

I have to say I think they’re selling the movie short. The way I remember it this movie came out the same year as Dungeons and Dragons and the Tim Burton “re-imagining” of Planet of the Apes. Far from being the worst movie of all time I maintain that this was hardly even the worst movie to come out that year. I mean, sure, it’s a stupid movie. Sure the Psychlos (the ludicrously silly alien overlords of the Earth in the year 3000 are laughable and seem to be played mostly for camp value, but… well it’s at least funny, right? I enjoy watching it, so it has that in its favor.

The question is – and this is the question Amanda asked me quite early in the movie – is this movie intentionally camp? It definitely falls into the category of movies that are so bad they’re good, but is that deliberate? Did John Travolta give the scenery chewing performance he delivers here because he honestly believed it would read on screen as a compelling bad guy, or was it that nobody had the guts to tell him how stupid he looked, or is it deliberate lampooning? If it is either of the first two then this movie is just kind of sad, if it’s the latter then I don’t really know what they were going for.

This is the tale of a human uprising in a post-apocalyptic future against an alien species that has conquered all of humankind and enslaved us. If that sounds thrilling or compelling then you clearly have never seen this film. The script, acting and general directing of the movie work at every point to underline the point that the aliens are incompetent, bumbling, and rock stupid. It’s not simply that they underestimate the resourcefulness and intelligence of humans – it’s that the aliens don’t have a brain cell between the lot of them. It doesn’t help that in what I assume was an attempt to make the aliens menacing and tall all of them are wearing massive platform shoes. The poor actors have a LOT of trouble walking in these shoes, which reduces the Psychlos to lumbering slapstick a lot of the time.

I understand that the gist of Scientology is that we can overcome the obstacles in our lives by overcoming our inner demons – which are apparently some kind of parasitic aliens. It makes as makes about as much sense as any other organised religion in my head. I also understand that John Travolta cared deeply about this project as some kind of allegory for Scientology. But it somewhat undermines the notion of a deep inner struggle to depict the source of everything negative in the human psyche as laughably feeble-minded stumbling fools.

Um. Sorry. I’m not feeling well and my brain isn’t really functioning too effectively. I feel like I should have more to say about this absolutely wonderfully and inexplicably awful movie. It’s fun to see Forest Whitaker because he pretty clearly is simply enjoying hamming it up. The effects in the movie don’t stand out as awful, and there are a very large number of well done miniature shots – particularly during the hilarious and improbably epic conclusion. This is one of those stupid movies that you can pretty well enjoy if you’re like me and enjoy bad movies. Luckily I am one of those people.

November 20, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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