GREAT RETRO SCI-FI BUT…
A Video Review of Battlefield Earth
Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker
I hated this the first time I saw it. Now I like it a lot.
It’s very retro – like the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers movie serials of the 1930s. You have very clearly drawn lines of good and evil. You have a hero Johnny (Barry Pepper of The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan) to root for and a villain Terl (John Travolta whose heart and soul went into this project) to hiss and boo.
It’s great action but typical sci-fi cliché (not unlike the thousand-plus page book it’s based on). Against all odds it is enjoyable. It smacks of old movie serial in the same way the original Star Wars trilogy does.
The reason I didn’t like this film initially was probably all the backstage crap. Yes, it’s based on the aforementioned book by L. Ron Hubbard and yes, it is chockful of Scientology philosophy and yes, most of the cast are Scientologists but. But you have to put that aside when you watch. It turns up the enjoyability factor quite a few notches if you do.
The cast is very convincing and the effects top notch. They even succeed in realizing the considerable size difference between the humans and their alien foes the Psychlos. Forrest Whitaker is particularly good.
John Travolta is over the top as the villainous Terl. It should be noted he had this project on tap for so long that at one point he was slated to play young Johnny, now he’s too old.
Forget the Scientology angle and give this one another shot. It’s very good.