'Battlefield Earth' (5/12/00) Directed by Roger Christian Starring John Travolta, Barry Pepper
The second, and hopefully last, of John Travolta's Scientology movies, "Battlefield Earth," like "Phenomenon," is religious propaganda masquerading as sci-fi fun. A cross between "Independence Day" and "Mad Max," though not nearly as amusing as either, "Battlefield Earth" is the dark, epic tale of Earth in the year 3000, a time when the evil alien Psychlos have taken over the planet and enslaved humanity. It should also be noted that at this point in Earth's history, all dramatic moments happen in slow motion. The stolid Barry Pepper plays Jonnie Goodboy, the only human willing to try to expel the tall, Klingon-wannabes from the ruins of Denver. Travolta is Terl, the sinister Psychlo chief of security, who because of a liaison with the daughter of a Psychlo senator, has been exiled to Earth --- for Psychlos this is apparently something like getting stationed in Newark, NJ. Terl's scheme to get off the planet involves Jonnie, who takes the opportunity to learn everything about Psychlo society and pre-conquest Earth. This proves to be the downfall of the invaders. The message is that learning and mental clarity are the way to humanity's salvation; coincidentally, Scientology believes the same thing. Besides the scenery chomping from Travolta, who at times seems to be doing a Dr. Evil impersonation, there is nothing to recommend in this tedious, cheaply made dirge. The dialogue is inane, the acting wooden, and Roger Christian's directing choices are a lesson in sci-fi film cliché. However, contrary to cult-hater reports, nothing about "Battlefield Earth" will draw weak movie-goers into the open arms of the Church of Scientology. That would be like saying "Showgirls" was a recruitment tool for strip clubs.