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The Hunt For The Worst Movie Of All Time: Battlefield Earth

By Gabe Delahaye / May 19, 2008 - 12:47 pm

Well, whoever suggested Battlefield Earth can give themselves a pat on the back and a punch in the face, because it is definitely very, very horrible. I will say right off the bat, though, that I’m not sure how well Battlefield Earth can stand up to some of the other films we have up for consideration, for the express reason that after watching it, I do not consider it an actual movie. A movie is made for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To turn a profit.
  • To inform.
  • To entertain.

Since Battlefield Earth did none of the above, I’m pretty sure it’s not a movie. It may be a painful experiment on the human tolerance for visual punishment, or a rich person’s idea of a joke. Or, of course, it’s just the vanity project of an over-indulged millionaire celebrity automaton who disconnected his reality chip years ago and is now floating in the soft, warm ether of his self-encapsulated ego. I’m not sure.

Battlefield Earth is a sci-fi adventure-disaster set in the year 3000. Humans have been nearly wiped out by a conquering race of aliens from the planet Psychlos. Those who survive live in the mountains and stuff. The hero is a hunter from a mountain village who gets captured and sent to “Human Processing Center: Denver” (the first of many LOLs). Then the hero leads a revolt that involves gold from Fort Knox, teaching mountain people how to fly fighter jets, and rewiring a nuclear bomb based on the nuclear bomb manual. Pro-tip: when rewiring a nuclear device, always check the nuclear device manual. John Travolta stars as the dreadlocked alien security chief. Oh, and just in case you were wondering: Does John Travolta inexplicably start talking in an Irish brogue near the end of the “movie,” the answer is yes.

The “movie” (for lack of a better term) has some of my favorite sci-fi tropes. For example, the Psychlos consider humans to be unintelligent animals who are only good for slave labor and murdering. Fair enough. But then the Psychlos also have “executive assistants” (Forest Whitaker) and get drunk in bars and say things like “you’re too much.” They also dress the slave alien “man animals” in camo-green jumpsuits, because that’s what you do with a creature that you consider to have no value. You dress it efficiently. I also love how when humans are deprived of civilization after an Apocalyptic event they regress to the king’s English: “Hope is an admirable quality, but foolishness is not.” Before the movie was released, John Travolta described it as being “like Pulp Fiction for the year 3000.” What? I don’t even know what that means. I guess I missed the director’s cut of Pulp Fiction in which John Travolta played a retarded alien with dreadlocks and a sassy effeminate attitude.

I had always heard that this movie was about Scientology, but I don’t think that’s true. Nothing really seems to back that up, least of all the movie itself. I’m pretty sure the only religion this movie could subliminally endorse is the religion of throwing your DVD player out the window. Even Tom Cruise supposedly warned Warner Brothers that it was “a bad idea,” and he failed out of Recognizing Bad Ideas School. But I did some background research on the project, and the whole endeavor is epic. It was largely financed by a production company called Franchise Entertainment, run by a guy named Elie Samaha who said “[Battlefield Earth] is going to make people in Hollywood take notice of Elie Samaha. I’m not going to be the laughing stock any more.” Whoops. It later turned out that Samaha inflated the budget of the film to embezzle money from his investors resulting in an FBI investigation and the collapse of Franchise Entertainment. Amazing. This movie actually ruined lives.

Next time on The Hunt: Baby Geniuses. And as always, please feel free to nominate worst films for consideration in either comment or email form.