The cast in BATTLEFIELD EARTH has a tremendous depth of talent and skill. However, the plot of the movie is so convoluted, that all their talent is wasted. Nevertheless, sometimes even with a terrible script filled with plot holes and nonsense, a decent film can be made if all the actors are on the same track. Unfortunately, none of the actors seemed to know what to make of this movie. For most of the film, John Travolta appears to act like he knows this film is going to be pure camp. Yet, there are times when his performance takes a "serious" turn. That combined with the fact that this was his little pet project (one that he helped produce) makes one wonder if he actually realized how campy this film was going to be.
There are no doubts what Barry Pepper and Forest Whitaker were up to. Pepper pulls off quite a believable performance as Jonnie, the human who saves the Earth. Pepper seemed to think his role (and the movie) should be taken seriously. After all, even the films with the worst dialogue and plot can be improved with good acting. On the other hand, Whitaker acts as though he knew the film was pure camp and seemed to have a lot of fun making the movie.
Therein lies the problem with the film, the movie can't decide if it wanted to be taken at least somewhat seriously or if it wanted to become a campy classic.Such a shame.
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Recklessly adapted from the novel by sci-fi author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and set in the year 3000, the film is no worse than many cheesy sci-fi flicks, but the sight of Travolta as a burly, dreadlocked alien from the planet Psychlo provokes unintentional laughter from first frame to final credits. As Terl, the Psychlo security chief who conquers Earth and hatches a secret scheme to steal all the gold from Fort Knox (which sits conveniently in wide-open vaults), Travolta hams it up as if he knows he's in a camp-fest. (In a cameo as a long-tongued Psychlo seductress, Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston, only adds to the absurdity.) Barry Pepper (the praying sharpshooter from Saving Private Ryan) tries his best to convey charisma as Jonnie, the human slave who leads an uprising against Terl's tyranny, but he's adrift in a foolish plot that makes even smart humans look stupid.
The decrepit look of a dreary future is convincingly established (the ruins of Washington D.C. recall Logan's Run on a grander scale), but in the wake of its ...