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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » BattleField Earth: Special Edition
BattleField Earth: Special Edition
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Review by Chuck Arrington | posted January 18, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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BATTLEFIELD EARTH: SPECIAL EDITON

Synopsis:

Earth in the year 3000 has been conquered by a race of beings known as "Psychlos". In the first wave of their attacks, they decimated Earth's industry and rendered what remained of the populace a backwards cave like people unaware of their history, yet painfully aware of their present. For some reason, the Psychlos are interested in mining the Earth ore "gold". Evidently a precious metal for them as well, they spend their time attempting to obtain as much as possible for teleportation back to their home world of Psychlo. Terl (John Travolta) is the Psychlo security chief for the planet Earth. Expecting to return to Psychlo at the completion of his fifth cycle (year approximately) on Earth, he is shocked and greatly angered at the news that his stay will be considerably longer. Add to that an assistant Ker (Forest Whitaker) who while aiding him is intent on securing his own wealth and fame at Terl's expense makes Terl a very unhappy Psychlo. When an incredibly rich vein of gold is discovered, Terl employs a particularly renegade man-animal (human) as his personal slave/miner. In an attempt to get as much out of him as possible, Terl imbues him with not only Psychlo intelligence but he also provides him with Terran history in an attempt to show him the futility of fighting against the Psychlo power base/invasion force. The tables are turned and the results Terl expected are far from achieved and instead of making an intelligent slave he has given birth to a determined rebel intent on destroying the Psychlo invaders. Battlefield Earth is an interesting if not curiously written story about the saga of Earth's distant future.

Audio/Video:

The audio is a very well presented 5.1 DD platform that delivers a very solid audio performance. The center is well delineated and the movement from back to front and left to right is equally impressive. The sub is put to decent use and provides a rather thunderous performance throughout. A Commentary track featuring Director Roger Christian and Production Designer Patrick Tatopolus is included. Mr. Christian comes with incredible credentials. His most notable projects have been his work as the 2nd unit Director for George Lucas on Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of The Jedi. Needless to say, he is a big gun in the industry. Tatopolus is most widely known for his work with Devlin and Emmerich on both their Godzilla and ID4 projects. As expected the commentary is full of info on their collective impetus and drive in creating what they expected to be a very different Science Fiction movie. The wealth of information that they both share is pretty neat and the insights they provide regarding the pre-production and postproduction elements of the film are very interesting. Not the greatest commentary track but definitely one full of information on the making of this one of a kind film.

The video presentation is quite well done. The blacks are deep and true, the flesh tones are however, very hard to gauge as the color schemes throughout the film don't lend themselves to that kind of clarity. The colors used are rich and brilliant. There was one instance of a scratch in the print at the very beginning of chapter one but other than that the transfer was pristine.

Extras:

A behind-The-Scenes documentary entitled the "Evolution and Creation". It's roughly 25 minutes in length and bears interviews with Travolta, Tatopolus and Christian. Additionally, as the title suggests, they provide various backstage looks at the production of Battlefield Earth.

John Travolta's Alien makeup test is included. Demonstrates both the initial concept and the final rendering.

A very short segment entitled Creative Visual Effects Featurette is also included. It demonstrates some of the special effects how-to's and lasts about 5-10 minutes max.

An animated Storyboard Montage and two trailers round out the extras. Additionally, there are two hidden segments on behind the scenes make up application and the staging of one of the latter scenes toward the end of the film.

What I like about B.E.

After all, this is a much-maligned film and most would say they find nothing likeable in the picture. Obviously in the minority, I found several things to like about the film. Firstly, I enjoyed the Psychos' appearance and stature as well as the graphic employed for the countdown to teleportation. The visuals toward the end of the film (primarily the destruction of the dome) are particularly intense and visually entertaining.

What I don't like about BE

This could get long. Anyway, I think the story would have benefited from a little history on what transpired from say, the year 2000 and beyond! For the life of me I can't figure out why the humans were so primitive and unaware of Earth history. Additionally, the Psychlos were essentially tall Ferengi who are also members of the hair club for men. Come on, the quest for gold?! I have to think that their societies should have been just a little more advanced than petty intergalactic thugs!. Who they were and what drove them to conquer was never explained. Additionally, what gasses did they breathe that made O2 deadly for them how was earth selected for conquest and what did the fighting look like? One of the biggest plot holes in the film had to be Terl's educating the man-animal so that he could be a better miner! I mean…WHAT? Lastly, the makeup for their hands is just silly. It looks like their wearing big ole' rubber gloves and that really detracts from the presentation. This could have been a really cool film but it washed out right at the opening of the film. Interesting premise but pretty poor execution.

Overall:

I have to admit, I heard all the rancor about B.E. and expected to be under whelmed and I was not disappointed. Is this the worst Sci-Fi film to date?…No but, it's knocking pretty hard on that door! I did enjoy some of the visuals but imagery without a decent storyline is really nothing more than a waste of time. Things like character development and cohesive story elements were seriously lacking in this feature. I went into this having heard all of the pot shots and grumbling and I have to say, it's generally well deserved. I found something to enjoy in the film and will probably watch bits and pieces of it again. On the whole, it's not a good movie; it's more of a jumble of images desperately trying to make some kind of grand statement. And that statement is (drum roll please) "with obscene amounts of money and ego, not too mention a crappy script to boot, you can screw up anything"! Rent it

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