The idea behind the Don’t Watch It, John! series is to find cinema that’s so rotten, so foul, so incredibly fetid that no other human being would dare recommend it to another human being. So why on earth would I watch this stuff? I like to think of myself much like Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men. We live in a world that has horrible movies, and those horrible movies have to be kept from potential viewers. Who’s gonna do it? You? You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That someone watching Battlefield Earth, while tragic, probably saves lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall, protecting you from the cinematic horrors of the world.
Buckle your thetans. Today’s “Don’t Watch It!” tackles a film that inspires shock and indigestion at its mere mention- Battlefield Earth.
What is Battlefield Earth? The Netflix plot description:
In the year 2000, an alien race known as the Psychlos devastated Earth and turned it into a wasteland. In the year 3000, the aliens — led by the horrific Terl (John Travolta) — still hold the surviving human population hostage and have forced Earthlings into slavery. But when human Johnny Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) discovers the aliens’ major weakness and leads the final fight for Earth’s survival, the parasitic Psychlos are in for a shock.
Roger Ebert’s Rotten Tomatoes pull quote about it is, “Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way.” So… yeah.
If you still have questions, the film’s website is still active.
The Stats: The stats on Battlefield Earth are a veritable shit show. It has a 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning 3 out of 123 critics actually gave it a positive review. The average IMDb user has rated it 2.4 out of 10 stars, good for 91st in the IMDb Bottom 100. For some perspective, it actually has a lower rating than It’s Pat (1994) and the same score as Gigli (2003) and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998).
The Review: To do this the right way, I’m going to have to do it in the style of a journal. And I’ll also have to employ whiskey. Lots and lots of cheap whiskey. And as you’ll see, I watched it during the Final Four.
2:10 Holy shit! We already have our first slow motion, overly dramatic “NOOOOOOOOO!”
2:40 Now Barry Pepper is dancing around and yelling at little kids about beasts and demons.
3:15 These people look like cave people, but the girl is named “Chrissy.”
5:12 More slow motion! Shit, yes!
6:32 There are cave people who speak perfect english, but grunt about things. Whatever.
7:18 “Golden arches with food that would magically appear” for the Gods. Nice dig at McDonald’s, shitty screenwriter.
10:12 YES! Another slow motion “NOOOOOOOO!”
11:00 Now there’s a whole minute in slow-mo.
11:37 The yellow filters in this thing are way out of control.
14:14 My screen just identified their location as “Human Processing Center – Denver”. No shit.
15:03 AGAIN with the slow motion. And it ends with Travolta grunting in some language like a pig.
17:12 There have almost been as many curtain wipes as slow-mo scenes so far.
17:25 Travolta: “I’m a psychlo of my word.” THIS is what that fucker did with the goodwill he created in Pulp Fiction.
21:39 There’s an absurd amount of this going on throughout:
24:12 OH MY GOD, I NEED MORE WHISKEY FOR THIS.
24:42 The entire plot revolves around one thing. Travolta’s character, who is cruel to humans, is doomed to an eternity on earth because he boned the wrong psychlo’s daughter. And that should tell you everything you need to know.
29:03 This is a lot like The Ten Commandments (1956) if it had been written by an orangutan.
32:33 More evil laughter. Travolta’s acting job here is one of the all-time worst that I’ve ever witnessed.
34:57 It’s epically shitty. What’s hilarious is that it’s bashing corporate greed as wasteful- which is fine- but this whole film is clearly a huge product of wastefulness created by corporate greed.
35:48 Awwww, yeahhhh…. more slow-mo.
38:03 At least Forest Whitaker rebounded from this.
39:35 Fuck this. I’m going to pause it and watch the Final Four.
41:00 Since I didn’t write, act in, or direct this, I feel considerably better about the direction of my life.
42:05 They just used slow-mo to show Barry Pepper assaulting a rat. I shit you not.
48: 20 This is all made infinitely more funny having seen the South Park episode about scientology.
48:45 Nice nod to A Clockwork Orange, assholes.
51:14 His peers: “We don’t understand the concept of equilateral triangles.” Barry Pepper: “Well, how about molecular biology?”
54:22 Excellent. The cave people from the first five minutes are back. And so is “Chrissy”.
55:14 It wouldn’t have been made in the 90s (released in 2000) if it didn’t have the Noble Savage mythology.
57:22 I FEEL A HUMAN SPIRIT SUB-PLOT COMING!
1:00:22 Awesome vegetarian message, bro.
1:01:03 Uh oh. Barry Pepper believes in fate now. He’s unstoppable!
1:04:35 SLOOOOOOOOW MOOOOOOOOO
1:05:28 This is a religion. People believe this. My mind is blown.
1:06:22 The psychlo bar looks like the kind of place David Schwimmer would enjoy.
1:08:03 Apparently, psychlo women have 3-foot long tongues. As shitty as this movie is, I’m intrigued by this.
1:11:14 And then, I was all like, “Give me more whiskey so watching this movie is worthwhile!”
1:14:51 If you raised an American kid on nothing but Star Trek and the bible, this is the kind of shit they’d come up with.
1:19:24 Again with the Noble Savage stuff.
1:23:00-1:25:22 I just peed without pausing the movie. You have no idea how significant it is that I didn’t pause it because I ALWAYS pause when I need to go do something else.
1:28:07 I just saw a severed head. That’s the first legitimately cool thing I’ve seen.
1:31:22 MOOOOOORRRREEE SLOOOOOOW MOOOOOO. And again, for approximately a whole minute.
1:33:15 FOLLOWED BY MOOOOOORRRREEE SLOOOOOOW MOOOOOO.
1:37:ish What really cracks me up is the sloppy references to very memorable and very classic sci-fi scenes. Right now, there’s a HUGE Star Wars reference going on, but it’s so bad and it’s so much worse for its lack of subtlety.
1:39:53 It’s just a hunch, but I’d bet that the Battlefield Earth screenwriter is a juggalo.
Editor’s Note: Actually, the screenwriter issued an apology for the film that was made from his original work. “My screenplay was darker, grittier and had a very compelling story with rich characters,” Shapiro wrote. “What my screenplay didn’t have was slow motion at every turn, Dutch tilts, campy dialogue, aliens in KISS boots, and everyone wearing Bob Marley wigs.”
1:41:49 “They’re killing us!” Uh… yeah. That was pretty obvious without you shouting it out, tertiary character guy.
1:44:22 I just… don’t… whatever, man.
1:45:58 Subtitle: [teleporters caterwauling] [psychlos laughing]
1:46:28 Yeah, like… just… whatever.
1:47:18 It wouldn’t be a fitting finale unless there was some more SLOOOOOOOOW MOOOOOOO.