Battlefield Earth (review by John Sizemore and Pat Dettellis)

People don’t need to worry about the rumor that “Battlefield Barbarino” is a recruitment film for Scientology. In fact, this film might just make Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and all of John Travolta’s other Scientology buddies run right back to a real church again, just out of embarrassment. “Forgive me Father, for I have actually paid to see a John Travolta movie.” “Ten Hail Mary’s and a strong, swift kick to the head, my poor child.” “Battlefield Earth” has Revolta (there’s a name I haven’t used in a LONG time) playing the chief of security for the Psychlos, aliens from another planet who have enslaved humans for mining … something. Rocks for widgets? Anyway, the accent he uses for this character is reminiscent of his singing in “Grease,” but without the studio orchestration to hide the fact that it sucks.
Oh, get the symbolism in the name “Psychlo?” If not, wait here while John gets a hammer with which to hit you over the head. Based on a book by Revolta’s guru, L. Ron Hubbard, a poor sci-fi writer to begin with, the aliens represent … ready? PSYCHIATRY! Something Scientology frowns on, but we think the studio should provide free of charge to all of us saps who actually sat through the whole four and a half-hours. Okay, it was closer to two hours, but you can’t make Pat believe that. Even if this is a Scientology mind probe, as some fear it is, you wouldn’t know the metaphors from the mind probing in this painful, swelling itch of a film, because nobody can find a coherent plot.
The human, hero, Johnny Goodboy (Barry Pepper), lives in the Rockies, is captured by the Psychlos, taken to their Denver headquarters (go figure), and after showing he has an aptitude for using weapons, Revolta has … a BRAINSTORM! Yes, we know. It’s hard to suspend your disbelief on that one. Seeing Johnny merely as a trained monkey, Sheriff Revolta, who also serves as the film’s Executive Producer, and noting that there were no more positions available writing the sequel, enslaves him. He zaps Johnny’s eyes with a device that fills his head with just enough knowledge to make him remember that he was in “Saving Private Ryan,” for God’s sake, so what the hell is he doing in this piece of crap? (Why can’t Johnny read? Why can’t Johnny’s agent read?) Johnny and a bunch of others are sent … somewhere to mine … something … a gold deposit to fund Revolta’s elaborate yet obscure plan? Okay, we’ll bite.
Pissed that he’s still on this stinking hole of a planet and finding everyone else his intellectual inferior (HA!), Sheriff Revolta finds sport in tormenting the people he works with, notably his 2nd in command (an embarrassed Forest Whitaker). It seems that Sheriff Revolta is unaware that if you take delight in screwing everyone over, including the guy who might have your job some day, he WILL screw you over eventually when he does get the job. Was this really a surprise to anyone save for the newborn who was being breastfed next to Pat during the course of the film? At least his evening sucked in a different way. And we found it extremely disheartening that a thousand years from now, even hundreds upon hundreds of light years away, minorities are still being put down by “Da Man.” If we’re going to have discrimination in the future, why can’t it be against someone who deserves it, like self-important, second-rate actors who become hot properties after suddenly remembering to pick up the phone after twenty years? But we digress.
Johnny Goodwrench apparently decides to screw Revolta over, too. Since Sheriff Revolta also taught him how to fly one of their ships, he’s got his own elaborate and obscure plan to rid his home of the Psychlos. He teaches his caveman buddies that, yes, men were the big shots on Earth once. (Spit. Scratch. Spit again.) He also teaches them to shoot weapons and to use a flight simulators to learn to fly old jets. (In other words, your teenage nephew who hangs out at the pizzerias paying video games, coupled with the Radio Shack sales geeks will eventually save all our asses.) We were a little incredulous at the idea that Johnny Be Good was able to take gold from Fort Knox and convince Sheriff Revolta that they smelted it into bars with their own loving hands for the pleasure of their alien oppressors, but then we figured, hey, this is John Travolta we’re trying to snow here. How hard could this be?
This wasn’t just a bad film; it was an ugly film. Butt ugly. No, wait. I insult butt everywhere with this comparison. The sets, the special effects, the aliens – all vile. These 9-foot aliens walk just like humans on carpenter’s stilts. (Actually, we’re told they’re wearing platform shoes. A nod to “Saturday Night Fever,” John? If it worked once…) They’re also hairy, smelly, sloppy and wear these air tubes that look like huge boogers. Why is it that the highly advanced enemies in these bad sci-fi films are always slobs? Also, the look of these aliens is not consistent, especially when you take a look at Kelly Preston, who had the good sense of making only a cameo.
The only thing that could improve this movie for us would have been to have Johnny Goodfella take one of the Psychlo’s ships and rig it to go back in time in order to vaporize John Travolta before he could make this movie. Or better yet, maybe Johnny could have gone back to Englewood, New Jersey on February 18, 1954, and zapped Revolta’s mom just before she went into labor. Or hell, why not just go back even further and annihilate his maternal grandmother before she reached puberty, thus preventing Ellen and Joey, too (especially Joey). Hey, when it comes to a Travolta, better safe than sorry.
We give this movie one yak, in the hopes that said yak meanders across the screen and takes a dump right on the opening credits. Bless the beasts, and the children.