Battlefield Earth

Stars:  John Travolta, Forest Whitaker, Barry Pepper

“Battlefield Earth” is a hideous mish-mash of just about everything: story, dialogue, effects and editing. It’s based on the 1982 novel by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Why anyone would have wanted to produce it for film is beyond me. It’s terrible from the first frame. Then again, star John Travolta is a well known Church of Scientology follower. In that lies the answer, apparently.

Set in the year 3,000, long after aliens called Psycylos conquered the Earth, man is just another endangered species. He lives in the mountains, in caves and in forests and has been reduced to little more than primatives, wearing animal skins, lots of dirt and the occasional braided hair. He’s even taken to grunting like apes. In fact, this, at times, appears to even be a rip off (albeit a lousy one) of “Planet of the Apes”.

This farfetched story involves Travolta as Terl, the Psycylos’ chief of security whose job it is to round up lots of “man-animals” who are nothing more than slaves doing who knows what for the alien masters. Captured slave Jonnie (Barry Pepper) leads a revolt after Terl hatches a plot to use some of the man-animals as miners to dig up hidden gold in the radioactive mountains to line Terl’s own pockets.

Before you know it, the primative man-animals are astute warriors, learning to fly and manuever Harrier jets and set off nuclear explosions while magically mimicking all the related lingo that goes with it to save what’s left of mankind from perpetual enslavement by the Psycylos.

Travolta’s demented Terl cackles like a witch throughout, looks like a cross between “Predator” with his unruly dreadlocks and something out of a bad Star Trek movie as he sports a lot of really stupid, mundane dialogue. He’s aided by Forest Whitaker as his second-in-command, a lacky named Ker, who’s really dumb for a security guy. But at least he gets the last laugh on Terl. As for Barry Pepper…he was a good soldier in “Saving Private Ryan”. Here’s he got about as much charisma as a dead tree.

When you consider all the money that was spent on endless action sequences and special effects it still amounts to nothing because unless you care about the characters and the story, it’s a wash.

Lotta says: “Battlefield Earth” is a lousy story with uninteresting characters. I had a total lack of involvement in this film. L. Ron Hubbard should have just concentrated on brainwashing celebrities with his philosophy and kept novel writing to the experts and Travolta should stick to better fare. This choice ought to set his career back to pre-“Pulp Fiction!