Battlefield Earth Preview

A small note prior to this post: Last July we decided to take a look back at the movies that we watched over five years ago and choose a Hall of Fame class, five movies that we thought embodied BMT in some way. Perhaps they were particularly bad, or an example of a specific bad movie trope, whatever, something made them stand out as special in our minds. Since we didn’t do email previews back in 2011 we also decided to provide a preview for the movie. This is the last in the series of five leading up to our yearly awards the Smaddies Baddies (coming soon!). A recap (Hall of Fame speech really) will follow immediate afterwards to explain why the movie was chosen, things we loved about the movie, and things we discovered upon second viewing. Enjoy!

Battlefield Earth (2000) – BMeTric: 87.7

battlefieldearth_bmet

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(The. Consistency. Maybe the number one reason this Hall of Fame has been a resounding success for BMT is seeing this trend come to life. A film gaining tens of thousands of votes and the rating not moving an inch? Incredible. Think about it, a three on IMDb would raise the rating. The people who watch this film and rate it on IMDb pretty much give it a one every time. Ridiculous. Naturally one of the highest BMeTrics ever, and for a reason. )

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Psychlos (business-minded aliens) conquered Earth a century ago; what remains of humanity are slaves or ignorant savages. Gold-greedy Psychlo security chief Travolta educates bright human Pepper, hoping “man animals” can mine the metal for him. Big mistake … So is the movie, based on the novel by L. Ron Hubbard. Clumsy plot, misplaced satire, unbelievable coincidences and a leaden pace trample Travolta’s weird but amusing performance.

(Is he wrong about the year? They conquered Earth a thousand years ago (it is the saga of the year 3000 after all). I love weird by amusing performances, and yeah, this is a bomb. Strange the direction isn’t mentioned in the long list of issues with the film.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhNuXvlCTTc

(Short and sweet is what that always say I guess. It just teases the insanity that is Travolta’s performance. Just a taste. And the CGI looks straight garbage in this as well, so it has that going for it)

Directors – Roger Christian – (Known For: Nostradamus; BMT: Battlefield Earth; Stranded; Masterminds; Notes:  Prominent art director having won an Oscar for his work on Star Wars and nominated for his work on Alien. Won the Razzie Award in 2001 for Worst Director for Battlefield Earth. I nearly had a heart attack seeing that he directed a film called “Masterminds” and mistaking it for the 2016 release of the same name. Thought he was back with a major release.)

Writers – Corey Mandell (screenplay) – (BMT: Battlefield Earth; Notes:  Won the Razzie Award in 2001 for Worst Screenplay for Battlefield Earth; He works at UCLA now, you can see the cred on his website http://coreymandell.net/. Given Shapiro’s story about production it is basically a guarantee that he is a scientologist and chosen for the project merely because we went to a meeting and mentioned he was a playwright to … someone. Anyone really as far as I can tell.)

J.D. Shapiro (screenplay) – (Known For: Robin Hood: Men in Tights; BMT: Battlefield Earth; Notes:  Won the Razzie Award in 2001 for Worst Screenplay for Battlefield Earth; This movie basically ended his career. He wrote an open letter to the NY Post explaining how he got involved … it was basically that he went to a Scientologist meeting to meet girls, and wrote a pitch when they found out he was a screenwriter. And that basically Travolta ruined the entire thing. Sounds like a nightmare experience for everyone.)

Ron Hubbard (novel) – (BMT: Battlefield Earth; Notes: At one point I checked his bibliography to see if there was any chance his filmography would grow … uh, naw. He has 235 pieces of fiction published, but only two would be what I would call “modern”. One is Battlefield Earth. The other is Mission Earth, a 10 novel epic which was …. Not well received and was almost entirely published after his death. Probably most well known for producing the first soundtrack for a novel (Space Jazz for Battlefield Earth) … wait, that can’t be right. Oh yeah, he also founded Scientology I guess.)

Actors – John Travolta – (Known For: Pulp Fiction; Grease; Carrie; Savages; In a Valley of Violence; Bolt; Face/Off; Hairspray; The Thin Red Line; Saturday Night Fever; Get Shorty; Criminal Activities; The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3; Urban Cowboy; Look Who’s Talking; Broken Arrow; Primary Colors; Blow Out; Phenomenon; Ladder 49; Lonely Hearts; A Love Song for Bobby Long; A Civil Action; BMT: Battlefield Earth (BMT); Look Who’s Talking Too; Look Who’s Talking Now; Staying Alive; Old Dogs (BMT); Killing Season; Lucky Numbers; Domestic Disturbance; Be Cool (BMT); Perfect; Michael; Wild Hogs (BMT); Two of a Kind; I Am Wrath; White Man’s Burden; The Devil’s Rain; The Forger; The General’s Daughter; Mad City; Swordfish (BMT); The Punisher (BMT); From Paris with Love; Basic; Notes: See below for Razzie info; What more is there to say? We’ve seen him in six BMT movies, and he has a borderline case of Liottaitis more commonly known as you-look-like-you-are-wearing-a-mask-of-yourself disease. Tarantino resurrected his career with Pulp Fiction and this movie kind of took it all away. Although he has gotten steady work including in the O.J. Simpson show.)

Travolta Razzie Notes: Won the Razzie Award in 2001 for Worst Actor for Battlefield Earth, and Lucky Numbers; and for Worst Screen Couple for Battlefield Earth; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1990 and 2010 for Worst Actor of the Decade; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2010 for Worst Actor for Old Dogs; in 2002 for Domestic Disturbance, and Swordfish; in 1986 for Perfect; and in 1984 for Staying Alive, and Two of a Kind Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1992 for Worst Supporting Actor for Shout;

Nominated for the Razzie Award Forest Whitaker – (Known For: Arrival; Southpaw; Out of the Furnace; Dope; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; Platoon; The Butler; Panic Room; The Last Stand; Phone Booth; The Last King of Scotland; Where the Wild Things Are; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Great Debaters; The Crying Game; The Color of Money; Vision Quest; Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai; Mr. Holland’s Opus; Phenomenon; Stakeout; Bird; Ernest & Celestine; Body Snatchers; BMT: Battlefield Earth; First Daughter; Ready to Wear; Our Family Wedding; Species; Taken 3; A Dark Truth; Repentance; Consenting Adults; Repo Men; Blown Away; Even Money; Powder Blue; A Little Trip to Heaven; Vantage Point; Light It Up; American Gun; Street Kings; Bloodsport; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2001 for Worst Supporting Actor for Battlefield Earth; He has a black belt in kenpo studying under a student of the late Bruce Lee. His noticeable eye condition is hereditary, and he’s considered having it corrected because it affects his vision. I wonder if it would affect his career. I would hope not.)

Barry Pepper – (Known For: Saving Private Ryan; True Grit; The Green Mile; The Scorch Trials; We Were Soldiers; Kill the Messenger; 25th Hour; Snitch; Enemy of the State; Flags of Our Fathers; The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada; Like Dandelion Dust; The Snow Walker; BMT: Battlefield Earth (BMT); Firestorm (BMT); Broken City; Knockaround Guys; Casino Jack; The Lone Ranger (BMT); Notes:  Won the Razzie Award in 2001 for Worst Supporting Actor for Battlefield Earth; No joke I would have guessed he was in something like six BMT films. The fact that he’s been in three is kind of shocking, his filmography is actually quite good. His early life is kind of crazy. He was born to a Canadian lumberjack and his entire family set sail in the South Pacific when he was a kid. Without entertainment the family would perform sketches and that’s how he became an actor … what?)

Budget/Gross – $73 million / Domestic: $21,471,685 (Worldwide: $29,725,663)

(Yep a complete disaster. In Going Clear I believe they mentioned the movie in some capacity, but $73 million for what was widely considered an unfilmable (and pretty terrible) Sci Fi novel starring Travolta. I mean on paper is seemed … we it seemed terrible. I don’t know what they were expecting really.)

#30 for the Controversy genre

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(I like that controversial films haven’t really been isolated to a particular time period. The list is pretty fun because it tells you why it is controversial. This one is controversial because of “Scientology”. The most recent one was the Interview. Again, cool list, boring plot.)

#76 for the Sci-Fi – Adventure genre

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(Arrived at a peak of this genre. At down below Babylon A.D. and right above smash hit Cocoon the Return. Yeesh. Now that is a sequel we could have done. That giant peak? Star Trek, Star Wars, The Martian, Jurassic World. Crazy huge right now, and with Star Wars possibly forevermore.)

#37 for the Sci-Fi – Alien Invasion genre

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(We watched 5th Wave and Independence Day Resurgence recently in this genre. Right down near The Darkest Hour, which is pretty dire. That nadir of cash per theater is hilarious in this context. Transformers and a few others represent that big peak, so not too surprising the grenre collapsed a bit more recently.)

#43 for the Sci-Fi – Based on Book genre

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(5th Wave and Deadly Friend was watched in the last year. This is down near the Iron Giant (oof, also a famous box office bomb). Hunger Game and Divergent mainly are the big peak, but that is definitely waning. It was fueled by YA novels, and those have dried up since a few of the series just went down the toilet. 5th Wave in particular exemplifies this failure.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 3% (4/148): Ugly, campy, and poorly acted, Battlefield Earth is a stunningly misguided, aggressively bad sci-fi folly.

(sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. IGN gave one of the good reviews. My highlight: “Let me start out by saying that I read the book long before the movie came out and I enjoyed it.” Oooof, I’m so sorry. Because I straight up could not get through that book. The only Top Critic reviews was from the San Francisco Chronicle with this nice insight: “Travolta, who is the producer as well as star, had wanted to make a movie of Hubbard’s book for at least 15 years. There was only one catch: His career was in the tank. But since “Pulp Fiction” jump-started his professional life in 1994 and he followed up with a string of hits, including “Get Shorty,” “Face/Off” and “The General’s Daughter,” he has the leverage to bring this movie off.” Yup, and it promptly put his career back in the tank. No joke, his only super profitable live-action role after this was Wild Hogs.)

Poster – Battlefield Sklog (C-)

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(I kind of like the color (for all its washed out blues), but man does that look cheap. And it is like a love story to Travolta with it basically being his giant face. The book’s cover:

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is kind of hilariously throw back, and I kind of wish something like that with Barry Pepper could have been produced. Would have been a good nod.)

Tagline(s) – Prepare For Battle (B)

(Kind of like it. It gives a good indication of the movie once combined with the poster. Aliens have or will invade. Earth is the battlefield. Prepare for the battle [you will watch]. It isn’t super great, short and nothing special. But not terrible.)

Keyword(s) – bad acting; Top Ten by BMeTric: 87.8 Battlefield Earth (2000); 78.7 Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966); 78.1 The Room (2003); 75.7 Dungeons & Dragons (2000); 75.6 Troll 2 (1990); 74.3 Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959); 74.1 Prom Night (I) (2008); 57.9 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964); 57.0 Hobgoblins (1988); 55.1 Spawn (1997);

(SPAWN. That is just a ridiculous movie to end up on this particular list. All the others are basically legends in their own rights, but Spawn? How odd. Maybe people revile Johnny Legs as the Clown even more than I remember? I feel like that is a movie we need to watch.)

Notes – Forest Whitaker expressed his regret for participating in this movie. (Well I will express my regret for watching this film … twice)

The film’s cinematographer has gone on record as saying that the overuse of colour filters and Dutch Angles wasn’t his idea, and that he was given the smallest lighting budget he had ever worked with. (ha! Duuuuuuutch angles. Right there, can’t wait already)

Barry Pepper said that had he known he was going to win Worst Supporting Actor at the Razzies, he would have shown up to accept his award in person. (He should have known. Maybe he thought Whitaker had it in the bag though?)

The investor, Intertainment, sued producer Franchise Pictures for fraud. Franchise claimed the budget was $75 million instead of the actual budget of $44 million. Franchise Pictures were sentenced to pay Intertainment $121.7 million in damages and went bankrupt. Intertainment only financed the film because it came as a package deal with The Art of War (2000) and The Whole Nine Yards (2000). (Wowzers, makes a bit of sense. Incredible story. I thought maybe Franchise was a Scientology thing, but naw. Legit action film company and they didn’t go bankrupt until maybe five years after Battlefield Earth came out too. A Sound of Thunder was a film that ended up having to be release with half complete CGI because Franchise went bankrupt. I won’t bore you with all of the BMT films they made, but the list is looooooong.)

The original plans called for a sequel to be produced, which would be based on second half of the novel by L. Ron Hubbard. These plans were scrapped due to the poor critical and public reaction to this film. (Second half?! This film is based on no more than 30% of the book. So that is bullshit. Although, then again, from about 30-50% the book is a complete waste of time)

John Travolta referred to this film as “like Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) but better” and “the Schindler’s List (1993) of science fiction films” during publicity. (ugh, was he on drugs?)

Listed among the Top Ten Best Bad Films ever made in “The Official Razzie Movie Guide”, by Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson. (Fair probably)

John Travolta initially offered the director’s seat to Quentin Tarantino, who declined. (Who didn’t return his call perhaps)

Awards – Won the Razzie Award for Worst Picture of the Decade

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor of the Decade (John Travolta)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst ‘Drama’ of Our First 25 Years

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (John Travolta)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (John Travolta)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Barry Pepper)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Kelly Preston)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Roger Christian)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Corey Mandell, J.D. Shapiro)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Forest Whitaker)

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