I don't know why exactly, but something compells me to post about such an inconsequential subject as the BE movie. I think that because so many people might think that *all* scientologists should or would like the movie no matter what. And the other side of the coin is that so many staff or scientologists seem to like it despite any good reason to do so. But I guarantee you that any scientologist who has retained or re-found his own good reasoning abilities typically dislikes BE immensely as well.
I've seen some people reason that BE is meant to be campy and/or comic in it's interpretation therefore people just don't get it and "think" it's bad. I don't think so. Just read the following direct from the BE site to see how serious a movie it was meant to be. I follow this with my official scientologist review of the movie.
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After years of anticipation, L. Ron Hubbard's monumental science fiction epic Battlefield Earth is coming to the motion picture screen. Long considered a prime story for the film genre, the grand adventure of Battlefield Earth awaited only the right script adaptation before everything came together to make it a movie reality. With a Corey Mandell screenplay, which captures the immense scope and irrepressible spirit of Hubbard’s novel, that time has at last arrived. The Battlefield Earth production has attracted top talent, making it a keenly anticipated film, already receiving media coverage a year in advance of its release. Multiple Academy Award-nominated actor John Travolta has taken on Battlefield Earth in the capacities of the starring villain and as co-producer.
Directing the picture is two-time Academy Award-winning Roger Christian, who George Lucas identified as the visionary director who could translate the scale, drama and vivid spectacle of the Battlefield Earth adventure to the screen. Playing the hero is Barry Pepper, most familiar to audiences as the memorable sniper in Steven Spielberg's Academy Award-winning Saving Private Ryan. Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award-winning Forest Whitaker, who worked with John Travolta on Phenomenon, joins the production as Travolta's alien sidekick.
Designer Patrick Tatopoulos, well known from blockbusters such as Independence Day, has taken on the multiple responsibilities of Production Designer, Creature Effects Designer and Costume Designer for Battlefield Earth. And capturing all this through the camera lens, Lucasfilm alumnus Giles Nuttgen is bringing a distinctive stylistic touch to the cinematography of Battlefield Earth.
These talents and more make Battlefield Earth the science fiction film event that fans and media alike are looking forward to.
The film is being shot in Montreal through the fall of 1999, with nearly three months of live action filming taking place in several Quebec locations, including wild mountain exteriors, decaying prisons and ruined factories representing a desolate Earth of the year 3000. Innovative computer graphic special effects supervised by Erik Henry (Alien, X-Files) will round out the impressive model and miniature effect work accomplished by industry veterans Bill Pearson, whose long list of credits include many of science fiction's major cinematic successes, and miniature explosion effects creator Joe Viskocil whose list of credits include a Best Visual Effects Academy Award for his work on Independence Day. Bringing years of experience to the editing room, Robin Russell (The Big Hit) fills out the line up of one of the most creative production teams ever assembled for a major science fiction film.
Co-producers are Elie Samaha of Franchise Pictures, Jonathan Krane and John Travolta. Battlefield Earth has been licensed by Author Services, Inc., of Hollywood, who represent L. Ron Hubbard’s literary, theatrical and musical works.For Director Roger Christian, BATTLEFIELD EARTH is an opportunity to do something vitally, distinctive with science fiction film. At its heart, BATTLEFIELD EARTH is a vast compelling story, and it is his personal vision for capturing this story's essential humanity and its broad metaphoric resonances, as well as its wild action and grand spectacle that drives Roger Christian in the production of this film.
During a break between scenes, while filming in the dark grottoes of a converted and de-commissioned prison near Montreal, Roger shared some of his thoughts about BATTLEFIELD EARTH.
What attracted you to this film
Roger Christian: From the beginning I've been looking for different stories to tell. I enjoy science fiction and the script for this one came into my hands just before Christmas, 1998. Although, I was doing something else at the time, I read the script by Corey Mandel and liked it enormously.
It follows the classic theme of the hero's journey - the underdog, fighting to survive, saving the world. And it all takes place within the intensely provocative premise of a primitive world of Earth's future, fallen back to barbarism.
When I had seen this great script, I thought, 'well, I'd better read the book,' and when I did - that was emphatically it. I've read a lot of works of science fiction but categorically BATTLEFIELD EARTH is one of the very best science fiction novels that I have read. The vision of the film, the magnitude of its concept, comes fully and directly from the book. Hubbard's voice is strong; he is a great science fiction writer.
I embrace the idea that there can be multiple levels to a good film. I think the better films have an underscore underneath the 'ride,' which is what the action story is. The underscore of BATTLEFIELD EARTH is the story of human beings who find that if you don't accept the limitations of your world, and you are able [to] look beyond them, you can take another step up. It's like going from three dimensions to four dimensions, a quantum leap in hope and aspiration.
In the film, as in the novel, this is very well portrayed by primitive men who've forgotten who they are and lost the rudiments of their history - something, which could happen quite easily in a post- holocaust situation. The hero encounters the device of a learning machine, and through this he is exposed to knowledge --- the higher knowledge of the day of that far millennium. This comes to a primitive who has forgotten his past, the legacy of a plundered greatness, and he takes that leap up, remembering and realizing his potential and the potential of his society and his people.
That's what empowers them, in fact, to defeat the alien race that dominates them. That's what gives them their strength and their hope. It's literally expanding the mind that leads them to success.
From what you're saying, it sounds like the film is a sci-fi adventure but it is also very much a human story, a metaphor really.
Roger Christian: I think the film is a metaphor, in its largest context, for the human race. A keenly sharpened metaphor for the millennium, as well, for our coming into the new age and a new time, and a new stage for conflict on a cosmic scale - and for urgent strivings for higher level, larger goals that come always from inside, not outside the human experience.
This is certainly an underpinning of the film. And it's there for the taking.
But BATTLEFIELD EARTH is also a straight-ahead, full throttle, ultimate action ride. I mean you won't believe the pace and tempo. We've loaded it with more action than was in the original script, raised velocity of events, the swift interplay of characters toward a climax that keeps building and building, and just doesn't quit. I can't wait to see it myself. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Here's my scientologist-tinged review of the movie.
In So. California I went with 8 friends to the 1st evening (prime time) showing on Friday at a smaller theater. We got there early because one of our group insisted that there would be a line. There was never a line. An extreme few people came out of the earlier 1st showing. At our showing, my best guess would place the theater at being perhaps 1/4 full or slightly more.
Before the show even began, one of our party stated that she was going to go see BE a second time at one of the biggest screen theaters to really get in on the action more than our little bit smaller screen might provide.
I ignored reading anything until I saw the movie so I could make up my own mind, but I must admit now that I agree with most of what the bad reviews are saying about BE. When the movie began, I was a little surprised at the cheap look of the graphics such as the title itself, particularly for an $80 million movie (the lettering and graphics on their website are better).
The movie itself was choppy, hard to follow, too many bad special effects to make up for any good ones, unbelievable sections of the story line even for a sci-fi movie, really bad attempts of characterizing "good guy, hero" moments or "bad guy" dramatizations and I could go on but why bother. I can name a dozen other mediocre to bad movies that portray the good vs. evil much better than what was accomplished here - it was really hoakie and contrived. The previews pretty much nail it. BE ultimately has no entertainment even for a scientologist.
I read where someone called it comic and entertaining in that way. I say NO WAY! It's easy to see that this entire movie was to be taken seriously as a stellar sci-fi film, but it just doesn't pull it off. I saw no pulling off or attempts of humor, irony, etc. whatsoever. You start to think that Travolta's character and voice is all camp and maybe you should start viewing the movie as intended to be campy - but then it's obvious that it's not. It's supposed to be an epic. Ooops!
Other than one lady that giggled thoughout at some scenes, there was absolutely no reactions from anyone during or after the movie. No applause, no cheering, no laughs, no oohs or ahhhs. Our biggest BE fan, the lady that was going to attend a larger screen, decided against it now and even she was disappointed. As we scientologists gathered out front of the theater afterwards the "polite" universal reaction went to "well, I guess it is really hard to make a movie from a book" and that sort of thing. Stunned silence and no praise. In scientology lingo, you would call it an overt product (a product that is not a viable exchange for the money paid).
Other than a dog or two from the early 80's, that was the worst role and acting I've seen for Travolta. Wrong vehicle for him to be certain.
I'm nothing if not trying to be honest from my being close to scientology point of view. I say it like I see it.
By the way, after seeing a couple of my fellow movie-goers on Saturday, they too admitted that the movie sucked.
Alfred E. Noumenon
"What, me worry?"