single person who visits this site fancies themselves a film
fan. From the nameless readers who don’t interact to
the regular Chewers on the Boards to every single person on the staff –
we love film. We live for it. We watch as much of
it as we can. But, sadly, we’ll never be able to see
everything. We’ve missed a lot over the years and
sometimes we’ll miss one of the big ones. One of the
classics or cult favorites that has had everyone talking and
proclaiming their love for years. That’s what this
column is all about – the big ones that we‘ve
missed. Every week a different member of the CHUD Crew is
gonna play their own little game of catch-up and tell you about it
here. Maybe it’ll get you to rewatch an old favorite
you haven’t seen in years, maybe it’ll get you to
catch up on your own list of shamefully neglected films.
Either way, we hope you enjoy it.
I fucking hate me.
So here’s the thing you have to understand… There is a ton of shit I haven’t seen. Important films. Masterworks. Films that have contributed to the grammar of filmmaking in irrevocable ways and are required viewing for anyone who considers themselves a film enthusiast. There are dozens.
I could have chosen any of them.
To name a few… 12 Angry Men, Sunset Boulevard, Spirited Away, M… really, I could go on, all while my credibility gets molested in an alley somewhere and learns that the trick of yelling “fire” instead of “rape” doesn’t actually work. When faced with writing a Late to the Party piece, I could have chosen any one of those movies and righted a serious wrong. I could have journeyed through a classic film with a fresh set of eyes, and attempted to deliver you a well-considered piece of film critique that offered some interesting perspective. Instead, when faced with choosing a film for this piece, I did the equivalent of stabbing my dick with a screwdriver and bleeding an article out onto the keyboard…
Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000) – If you must from CHUD
I don’t really want to write about this piece of shit, but I chose it, so here we go.
Battlefield Earth… an unmitigated disaster and considered by many to be the worst film of all time- a Plan 9 From Outer Space for the new millennium (back when that whole thing was still a thing). If it’s not the worst film of all time, it’s certainly the biggest, most expensive example of a vanity project gone dreadfully, dreadfully wrong in the last 25 years. While it’s not really a Scientology screed, it is of course the result of Scientologist John Travolta deciding to blow his wad of Pulp Fiction clout on an adaptation of his religious leader’s most popular science fiction novel. There are tints and shades of all the silly bullshit that makes up Scientologist “lore,” but ultimately it’s a big dumb Planet of the Apes knock-off that takes place on post-apocalyptic Earth, rather than a subliminal cult recruiting tool.
If you’re not familiar, a race of oversized humanoids called Pschlos (from a big dumb purple planet that explodes more easily than the Death Star called Psychlo) have taken over earth and are mining it for resources in a universe where gold is more precious and rare than, say, platinum. The assholes have pretty much obliterated the human, and use the remaining “man animals” as slave labor for a vague set of tasks (moving rocks?) that isn’t actually the mining they’re there to do. Apparently the Psyclos believe manimals are too dumb to learn the techniques necessary to chisel and move around rock. When Terl, the lead evil Psyclo, is forced to serve another indefinitely long tour of duty on the shithole that is earth (think Agent Smith if he was retarded, 9 feet tall, dreadlocked, but still thought the planet stank) he hatches a plan with his silly assistant Ker (played by Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker- and the eye ain’t done no favors by yellow contacts) to train manimals to mine, and then collect a big batch of gold that would otherwise be unreachable because of radiation or some shit. One particular manimal is captured by the Psyclos, ends up getting put in a learning machine that teaches him math and other delights of advanced culture. He eventually stages a revolt that sees cavemen learn to pilot harrier jets and other advanced military equipment in the span of week, with all of the equipment still being in pristine, fueled condition after 1000 years (apparently none of it was used in the 9-minute war when the Psyclos first came either).
There is literally too much stupidity in this piece of shit blockbuster to list. Many of you have seen it and know that it’s ultimately just a childishly written science fiction story that happened to have much more money than any other childishly written science fiction story Hollywood has tackled. So you have a few stars, a ton of CGI (which really was not that bad for the time, considering the amount of it) all applied to a cheesy, misjudged pile of crap. There a few things that stand out as being iconically bad, so I want to point out a couple of bits that I noticed. The first of which is actually the trailer for the film. Take a look…
Why don’t you go back and watch from 1:32 one more time for me. I’ve even got it queued up for you in this next embed. I’ll wait…
What in the hell is that JPEG-warping shit doing in the trailer for an $80 million science fiction epic that at that point, wasn’t yet the Battlefield Earth we all know and deride…?! That’s just to start us off.
Next let’s take a look at one of the several horizontal wipes that mark the transitions between scenes….
Oh, sorry about that. I meant this one…
Now keep in mind that the director of Battlefield Earth, Roger Christian, is a Lucasfilm alumni that has won Oscars for his technical work on Star Wars films, and even directed the second unit of The Phantom Menace. All of that history and he couldn’t even rip-off the Star Wars wipe correctly? Nothing but the same painfully slow horizontal curtain wipe the entire movie? Keep in mind- there are dozens of these things, and they didn’t even have the good sense to change it up with a nice star-wipe occasionally. What’s even worse is that periodically the wipes cause the color-correction (which is all severe color washes, with each scene having some random hue cranked all the way up) to simply fade away while the wipe glacially transitions. You can literally watch the stupid blue tint disappear and Whitaker’s face go back to normal color as the next shot takes over.
At least Roger managed to swipe the mega-city aesthetic of Blade Runner for the Psyclo home planet pretty effectively.
Now the film is also known for being shot almost entirely in Dutch angle. If you’re not familiar, Dutch angles (or “canted” or “angled shots”) are shots that are shifted laterally, pushing the world we witness into an unfamiliar and unreal tilt. There is a long tradition of films using canted angles for brilliant purposes, and that’s a history Battlefield Earth attempts to come all over as it turns the technique into a gimmick to make it’s boring, stupid photography more interesting. As an experiment, I took all of the shots from one particularly egregious scene and set them on what would be their typical level planes to demonstrate how violent these angles are, and how constantly they are shifting.
These are really just a few of the technical oddities of what is otherwise a traditional blockbuster action film. What they demonstrate is the general carelessness that permeates everything about the film, from the script to the photography to the abuse of slow-motion (there are literally 45 second-long slow-motion shots of running that they cut into).
There are a dozen more things to tear apart in Battlefield Earth, but I’m tired. I also kind of want to watch a good movie. I have House of the Dead queued up for my next piece, maybe it will be better*.
Oh yeah, and Netflix sadness… poor all of these other movies.
DISCUSS on the CHUD Message Board
Some Previous Entries:
Suspiria • The Big Lebowski • Scanner
Metropolis • ReAnimator • To Live And Die In LA
*Joke. I’m not watching or writing about that pile.