What The Film!? – Battlefield Earth

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What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.

If you know a film with major plot holes that you feel needs to be exposed, tell us! Email utgjames@gmail.com with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.

This Week’s Movie: 2000’sBattlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 

I have received so many requests for this movie that I have finally caved and decided to write about Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000. Like most people, my knowledge of the year 3000 is from Futurama, various episodes of Dr. Who, and Deltron 3030. I mean, I’ve spent a lot of time playing Battlefield 3 and am quite a fan of Science-Fiction and John Travolta, how bad can this be? This sounds awesome!

Not a single Decapodian or Sontaran show up in this movie. Such Bullshit.

Probably the most well liked Scientologist (not counting Beck), Travolta wanted to make a movie out of Battlefield Earth when he first converted to Scientology in the 1970s. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for humanity, his strings of flops in the 70s and 80s made him a rather weak link to Hollywood for Scientology. It wasn’t till 1994’s Pulp Fiction did Travolta become an A-lister again and started to push for Battlefield Earth to be made into a movie. Travolta incorrectly described the story as “like Star Wars, only better” and massively incorrectly as “like Pulp Fiction for the year 3000”. While the idea of a space Pulp Fiction sounds awesome, that wasn’t at all what this was like.

The former head of Twentieth Century Fox has said that Travolta had Scientologist stalk him and insist that he make the movie, saying “John wanted me to make Battlefield Earth. He had Scientologists all over me. They come up to you and they know who you are. And they go, ‘We’re really excited about Battlefield Earth’.” Do you think in any way, shape, or form that weirding me out is going to make me want to make this movie?

Weirding people out is something Travolta later worked into 2007’s Hairspray

The movie was eventually picked up by Franchise Pictures, a new studio that was started for the sole purpose of taking famous A-Lister’s personal projects and making them happen at a discounted rate. They even convinced Travolta to invest five million dollars of his own money into the production. Elie Samaha, the owner of Franchise Pictures convinced Warner Brothers to pick up the distribution by incorrectly describing the movie as “Planet of the Apes starring John Travolta”. That doesn’t sound bad, how bad could this movie be? Freaking Tom Cruise warned Warner Brothers to not pick up the movie because it was so bad. This was before it was even filmed.

When Tom Cruise is the voice of reason, things must be crazy.

“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” said Samaha like a crazy Bond villain, alternating between third and first person. He was right, Hollywood did notice Samaha, as did the FBI. They wondered how a studio with so many flops could stay afloat, discovering that they over inflated movie budgets and defrauded investors, paying much more into a movie than it actually cost. It doesn’t matter if your movie doesn’t make any money back, if you just keep the money that should have been spent on the movie. While Franchise stated Battlefield Earth’s budget at $75 million, the actual budget was $44 million, leaving $21 million unaccounted for.

A courtroom sketch of Samaha while on trial.

That was the abridged version of the production of this movie. The production would actually make a much better movie than what was made. All that effort, this had to be some movie! What’s it about?

The movie takes place in 3000AD (shocking) where Earth has been enslaved for the past 1,000 years by Aliens. The head Alien played by John Travolta has been banished to rule Earth, unable to return to his home planet as punishment for comical overacting. A small group of slaves escape, finding an old Military base that has been dormant and unused for 1,000 years. They then train each other into flying Harrier jets to attack the Aliens and send a nuke to the Alien’s home planet, successfully killing them all. The End.

Yeah, that’s seriously the entire plot.

The military base has been laying out, untouched for a millennium and yet the Harrier Jets that necessitate in constant maintenance are in perfect working condition, don’t need new oil, new gas, new ammo, everything is preserved perfectly. Jet Fuel has a shelf life of four years. And then, if that doesn’t make any sense, the Aliens are defeated by primitive Humans who didn’t even know what electricity was at the beginning of the movie who found out how to beat the aliens with the exact same vehicles and weapons that were defeated by the aliens in nine minutes when piloted by professionals. There are movies for children that have less plot holes and better logic. Plot holes aside, the movie was horribly executed in every possible way. Lines were acted out worse than they were written and directed even worse. Almost the entire movie is shot with a Blue-Tint with Dutch Angles, almost as if their biggest influence in tone, style, and quality was 1997’s Batman & Robin.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

While you were still learning how to spell your name, Dane was being trained to conquer galaxies! You can follow him on Tumblr and Twitter!

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  • Arthur

    Couple points:

    1) The book the movie was based on was written by L Ron Hubbard, correct but it has NOTHING to do with Scientology. Hubbard before starting the religion was a sci-fi novelist and wrote a lot of books. This being one of them.

    2) The book is a fantastic read! The movie on the other hand was horrendous. The majority of the book wasn’t even included in the movie.