After years of being in development hell, Battlefield Earth debuted in theatres worldwide on May 21st 2000 and it was met with mixed to negative reviews by critics and Sci-Fi fans. It was a project that star and producer John Travolta had been attempting to realize for years, as he was a member of Scientology, on whose founder Ron L. Hubbard’s eponymous novel the film was based on. In the 1980s already Travolta unsuccessfully tried to find financiers for the project, after he read a signed issue that the author and cult leader himself sent him, but no production company would back it at the time .
Due to its roots in the ideology of Scientology, the project was put on hold until the late 90s, when Travolta tried again and was successful thanks to franchise pictures and director Roger Christian, who was recommended to Travolta by George Lucas. In order to bring the book’s long infamous legacy to visual life, Christian resorted to using unorthodox methods of cinema photography, like using camera tilts, a stylistic element that was commonly used before in films like Batman and Robin (in its opening montage) and that technique did not really resonate with fans due to its overuse.
Other stylistic means were screen swipes in nearly every scene, a technique was famously used in Star Wars, also green tinting for various scenes that was reminiscent of the Matrix franchise, where it was heavily overused.
Along with slow motion shots, the style of the movie was very unique for a Sci-Fi production, but it was contrasted by the sub-par make-up effects that made the alien characters look like Klingons from Star Trek and with them walking on stilts to make them look as if they were 10 feet tall on screen and laughably weak CGI that could pass as a cut scene from a cheap video game.
Another overused element of the film is maniacal laughter in nearly every (!) scene. That’s so cringe-worthy you want to cover your ears in shame and it was criticised by movie reviewer Chris Stuckmann through his series of “Hilariocty” in which he reviews bad movies that are also hilarious, including inside information about the film and lead actors. Battlefield Earth was “awarded” with 7 “Razzies”, among them “worst film” and “worst lead actor”. Forrest Whitaker later publicly apologised for ever taking part in the film .
And the acting was really so lacklustre, it makes the acting in Batman and Robin look Oscar-worthy, one of the things that led the film to appear in almost every Sci-Fi fan’s list of the worst films, next to others, including Superman IV that was produced by the famous Cannon Film Group in 87, which also had weak special effects and wooden performances.
Battlefield Earth was spoofed on YouTube by “The Nostalgia Critic” by mocking its clichéd camera tilts even was spoofed in The Simpsons episode where they meet Adam West, with constant camera tilting throughout. It was also “celebrated” by Sean Moore in his “Cinematic Excrement” episode of Battlefield Earth .
Lastly here are the trailer and reviews.