Now this film wanted to be epic, it really tried, Travolta put millions of his own fortune into it and pushed people into helping him create it. These type of catastrophic alien invasion films were all the rage around this time after the success of 'Independence Day'. The films title alone sounds epic, a thundering statement...BATTLEFIELD EARTH!, it sounds like the ultimate sci-fi action film, so what's wrong with it?.
First and foremost it looks like, and for all intense and purposes, is an extended 'Star Trek' episode. The plot is very dull and plays out like a dull episode of Star Trek, one involving lots of dialog about mining for minerals (gold, for what reason? I dunno), slave trading and general alien politics. The mistake made with the alien race (with the rather stupid name of 'Psychlos', is that the best Hubbard could come up with??) in this film is that they are dissected too much. We hear about all sorts of trivial background stuff that isn't required, in the end they just seem like large humans, there is no mystery.
On top of the really overly laboured plot is the simple fact that these aliens look crap. Putting aside the obvious 'Klingon' like appearance, they look like huge platform wearing transvestites with dreadlock-like hair in campy goth space suits. As if they belong in some fetish club or one of those freaky bizarre goth circus's.
Then there's the simple question of why Travolta's face isn't the same as the rest of the alien race? why do all of them have devil/vampire-like faces but Travolta's is normal?. Is this because Travolta didn't wanna be hidden behind makeup?. Who's decision was it to let Travolta have/keep his little goatee? that kinda detracts from the whole alien design don't you think, a humanoid goatee. And who are these really old looking alien politicians with the flabby necks? is that what 'Psychlos' look like with age? why don't they look like the other 'Psychlos' facially?.
Other minor issues spring to mind also such as the fact these guys don't feel pain, Travolta's arm gets blown off yet it doesn't really faze him. Whitaker seems to be the only black alien in the entire race. Then there's the amusing observation that most of the cast clearly can't walk too well in the stilts they are on, no running by these aliens hehe.
Then we have the human element, or what's left of them. OK so humans are almost extinct and the 'Psychlos' have been ruling them for 1000 years apparently. So why has humankind completely forgotten everything about their past? the ability to use their brains, know what basic objects like glass or weapons are, names of places etc...they have forgotten everything which makes no sense. Mankind has been enslaved by aliens but why have they gone backwards to primitive cavemen? they don't know what a city is or what stars in the sky are, they worships Gods like ancient humans once did and they all scream and yelp like monkeys. But they still wear trousers.
The plot totally loses it once the rebellion begins, the last humans led by Pepper conveniently find apparent secret military bases still stocked to the gills with weapons, Harrier jets and power it seems. Little bit of training and many of them are now proficient in guns and even better...can fly Harrier Jump jets no probs!! just like that. So much so that they are able to engage alien ships in a fancy ass dogfight.
There really are so many plot holes and question marks I can't possibly mention them all or remember them all!. I do recall the effects being somewhat bigged up at the time, they were suppose to be pretty neat for the day. I guess they aren't too bad to be honest, some shots look nice, mainly ruined cityscape's, the alien ships are a reasonable design as is some of the ship flight sequences. Sets are pretty bland and uninspired, just faceless metallic facilities whilst the whole film has this quite ugly blue/grey/green tint/hue to it which is unusual.
So for a film called 'battlefield earth' there actually isn't that much in the realms of mega earthbound conflicts going on, its all based in one location. On a certain silly level the film can be enjoyable with its action sequences, it totally jumps on the 'Independence Day' bandwagon that's for sure, but it can still be minor fun.
Had this been a few half hour episodes of a TV sci-fi series then it could be looked on more favourably. I mean the film really isn't much better than a TV show, but I must admit to liking Travolta's wickedly evil campy performance. That and the 'Psychlos' females that we get a glimpse of, a kind of fetish wearing gothic 'Cenobite' with very very long tongues, film highlight for me.