In the year 3000, Earth has been conquered by the giant Psychlos. Exterminated to the point of extinction, mankind’s survivors live in caves; their sticks and rocks no match for the Psychlos’ advanced technology. One man, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, (Barry Pepper) decides living in the wilderness is not for him. He’s soon captured by Psychlos and taken to their massive dome, built in the ruins of Denver, where he comes to the attention of Terl (John Travolta) head of security at the compound and Ker (Forest Whitaker), his subordinate. Terl has been refused a transfer back to the home planet and hatches a plan to use the humans to obtain gold, which he can then use as "leverage". But Tyler sees a chance for freedom.

A new low for Travolta.

Yes, it's one of those films where villains utter a puerile line and then throw their heads back and guffaw phonily. It's the year 3000 and earth has been colonised by creatures from the planet Psychlo, Terl (John Travolta) is the Security Chief in charge of mining operations. Ker (Forrest Whitaker) is his henchman. Humans live a meagre feral existence. There has to be something better than this figures our hero, Johnnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) and so he sets off into the unknown, gathers a few mates on the way and ends up in the ruins of Denver where he falls into the clutches of Terl.

This film is a new low for Travolta – he was also the co-producer – his accent, his outfit, his performance all combine to undermine any serious consideration of his bad-guy Terl and Forest Whitaker doesn't fare any better. The screenplay, based on a long pulp sci-fi novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, is just plain dumb or unintelligible, the hero completely uncharismatic, the cinematography irritating and the direction by the undistinguished Roger Christian cliche-ridden. From any angle this is a very ill-considered project – an obvious contender for worst film of the year.


Watch 'Battlefield Earth'

Tuesday 28 April, 12:00pm on SBS VICELAND (streaming after broadcast at SBS On Demand)

USA, 2000
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Language: English
Director: Roger Christian
Starring: Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, John Travolta
What's it about?
It is 3000 A.D. and Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Pepper) is a renegade human who has eluded alien enslavement, until he too comes under the savage rule of alien chief of security, Teri (Travolta). Teri is impressed with Jonnie's skilful attempts at escape and spares him for a special project. Jonnie, however, has plans of his own and annihilation of his captors is just the beginning.

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