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The Fanatic (2019)

As a connoisseur of crappy cinema, I often seek out movies that I feel might hit that so-bad-it’s-good sweet spot. There are scads and scads of bad movies but few manage to land in the realm where their utter inanity and ineptitude provide genuine, baffled entertainment. The Internet would have you believe that the new movie The Fanatic fits that bill. On its face it seems like it might. It’s directed and co-written by Limp Bizkit front man Fred Durst, stars John Travolta, and is about a mentally challenged fan stalking and holding his idol hostage. That sounds like it has plenty of potential. The Fanatic is not a fun watch, especially by the last act, and I was mostly left scratching my head and wondering who in the world this movie was crafted for and why.

Moose (Travolta) is an obsessive fan. He also has a mental disability, which makes it hard for him to connect with other people. He’s obsessed with the actor Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa, fairly good here) and getting an autograph. After a misunderstanding, Moose is determined to track down his favorite actor and let him know why fans are important.

I have no idea who this movie was made for. I wasn’t so much laughing at it, though it did happen occasionally, as I was just staring slack-jawed and completely mystified. I didn’t really have fun watching something like this and I doubt most people would. It’s a bad movie but really it’s a gigantically miscalculated movie because what is the point and perspective presented? Are we meant to be weirded out by our mentally challenged protagonist, because that seems in bad taste? Are we meant to endorse his actions, because that seems in bad taste too considering how many transgressions he makes? Are we meant to feel that he is justified in his alienation or in how he responds to Hunter Dunbar, because that seems like enabling criminal behavior? Are we meant to feel for Hunter Dunbar when he gets the upper hand and tortures Moose in vengeance, because I can tell you listening to Travolta wail on the floor in pained cries is not exactly a hoot. Am I meant to have a squeamish sympathy for Moose that is then tested over time as he crosses more and more lines? That doesn’t really happen either. I don’t know what the movie wants me to think about Moose and Travolta’s committed yet stereotypical performance, which I think is why so many are holding this up as an example of something to ridicule because they don’t know what to make of it. It’s like the film just took a lot of bizarre and controversial plot elements, threw them together, and said, “You decide” when it comes to commentary.

What is the message about fanaticism? It’s the title of the movie so I would assume it’s being presented at least as a subject worthy of discussion. Moose is a fanatic and his fandom drives his life. It’s all he can think about. It gives his life purpose. Yet the movie takes away any real negative interpretation by applying the mental disability to the character. He’s a fanatic but he can’t be all that bad because he’s mentally disabled and, maybe according to the movie, not fully in control or cognizant of his own actions. This is a cop-out on multiple fronts. The completely superfluous voice over narration from Leah (Ana Golja), a side character at best, is generally just describing what is literally happening as well as offering an occasional dismissive comment about the facile nature of reality in Hollywood. Hey, have you heard how the entertainment industry is shallow and surface-level and exploits dreams and dreamers for profit? This is new to me! The narration almost presents a weak justification for Moose, like he was entitled to strike back when he discovered that actors don’t like it when you track down their home addresses and harass them. “You’re nothing without your fans,” Moose screams at Hunter in anger, and in an ordinary movie I would consider this a sign that the movie is lambasting the self-aggrandized sense of entitlement from fans and how toxic this can be to the psyche. Except The Fanatic won’t do any of that. It won’t set up Moose as an example of toxic fandom, and his disability is proof enough why.

I did not enjoy this movie. For thirty minutes I’m watching Travolta go from scene to scene and try out every clichéd acting trope for playing somebody with mental retardation. I may have missed something, and I don’t have the interest to watch it again, but I was left wondering how in the world Moose even supports himself. He has friends across Hollywood plugged into different tourist ventures but we only ever see him dressing as a British policeman and running around the Boulevard trying to coax strangers into snapping pictures with him. He’s terrible and off-putting to the average person on the street, so he can’t be making money from this. It seems like the filmmakers are weeding out any and all things that could keep Moose away from this very select path of being an obsessive stalker. That’s all he does. He’s not focused on anything else other than finding this star and letting him know how much he loves his work. There’s so little to this character but because the film strips any other complications or attachments from his life, it feels downright manipulative to basically set him up for this collision course. I’m reminded of 2002’s One Hour Photo where Robin Williams played a disturbed man who formed an inappropriate attachment to a group of strangers and became more and more undone, finally stalking them, intervening with horrific results, and hinting at a deeper history of abuse. None of that is present with Moose and it makes the experience feel like it’s either pandering or dithering.

When Moose does kidnap Hunter in the last act it’s meant to evoke a Misery situation but it felt to me like a much sloppier version of 2006’s Hard Candy. In that film, it was a battle of wills between an angry young girl (Ellen Page) seeking righteous vengeance and a man swearing his innocence (Patrick Wilson), and your sympathies were meant to be tested and question who was correct and who was going too far. I think that’s what Durst and company were going for but oh do they miss the mark and then some. I didn’t feel like Hunter was getting comeuppance for his behavior because his responses to Moose seemed fairly reasonable. I didn’t feel like Moose had become the villain now because the movie was presenting him still as the same figure from the opening minutes; he hadn’t become more disturbed or aggressive even after doing some very bad, very criminal things. I didn’t feel like the film was setting up some form of tragedy where Moose and his ignorance of the severity of his actions would escalate beyond his control. Mostly I was just waiting for the movie to be over, again watching with the fascination of a rubbernecker. I didn’t feel tension during any moment of this movie and I didn’t really care what happened to anyone.

I don’t know what would exactly appeal to Travolta with this part, besides the actorly possibilities of playing someone with mental disabilities. God bless him, Travolta goes all-in on this part and is practically bouncing off the walls. He’s so unrestrained, so dug into the tics and mannerisms of his character, which feel more informed by the portrayals of other famous actors playing this kind of person than it does on anything else. It is a performance that makes you second guess many of the actor’s choices, including the … shaved mullet haircut, and there are certain line readings that are so awkward they will make you leave the room in embarrassment. Of note is one frantic threat about what Moose will do to a man in a way reminiscent of Freddy Kruger, and the level of detail said in such a serious, scream-heavy tone just adds more ammunition for its unintentional hilarity. The problem is that the movie certainly doesn’t see Moose as a tragic figure, until his brutal beating at the end, and it doesn’t see him as a comic figure, so he’s just kind of hanging around like an unwanted guest. Travolta’s wince-inducing go-for-broke, almost Nicolas Cage-ian performance (I’m making this a term) is the best reason to watch The Fanatic, and you should really not watch this movie at all.

Another reason the movie isn’t derisively enjoyable is because it’s fairly competent and actually a bit stylish in several areas. Durst will get a lot of mockery for his involvement but the man has always had an eye for visuals (he directed most of his band’s music videos). There are some pretty nicely composed shots with some moody lighting thanks to cinematographer Conrad W. Hall (Panic Room). The score is pretty good too, using a lot of Max Richter-esque strings for pointed punctuation of key moments of unease and dread. This isn’t a bad movie because of the technical merits or through Durst’s direction. Sure, you could argue he should have reined in Travolta’s eagerness, but when the movie seems made to indulge those impulses, I can’t fault him for basically just letting his lead actor throw subtlety out the window and dance on its grave and other mixed metaphors.

It’s for these reasons that I found The Fanatic to just be a dispiriting movie, missing the electric charge of the truly and entertainingly bad movies like The Room or the oeuvre of Neil Breen. It’s just a bad movie by design, not on purpose. It’s hard to even find sincerity with it, an essential element of so-bad-it’s-good cinema, because I don’t really know what the movie finds sincere. It’s inconclusive what message I’m supposed to garner, what perspective is being delivered, and how I’m supposed to feel about any of this. It’s not executed in an intriguing ambiguity that pushes the audience to draw their own interpretations and conclusions. It feels more like the movie is simply incomplete, that it’s missing core elements to make it worth watching. Travolta unleashes a flurry of unrestrained acting tics and some may find it snicker-worthy, but Travolta hasn’t exactly been holding back as of late in his film choices. The Fanatic is really a dank genre thriller that doesn’t know what it wants to say and what it wants to do, and by slapping the mental disability factor into the mix, it definitely has no courage to pick a direction or statement. If you’re morbidly curious, you might find some degree of interest here but I wouldn’t advise it. The Fanatic is not the next best bad movie. It’s just a miscalculated effort and a sad one.

Nate’s Grade: C-

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Gotti (2018)

The John Gotti biopic has become somewhat notorious because of its 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, not that this is the first film to hit that dubious mark. It is bad, though not quite 0% bad. The biggest crime of this movie is that it at no point solidifies a reason why we should find John Gotti interesting. As played by John Travolta, he’s a ruthless leader who beat so many prosecutors that he was nicknamed the “Teflon Don.” He’s also really really boring, spouting stereotypical bromides about the importance of family, never giving an inch, never turning on your family (both capital F and lowercase f). It’s a cock-eyed worldview I’d expect, however, at the very end of the movie, the movie itself adopts this cock-eyed justifications, presenting the federal government as the real villains and inserting interview footage of real people eulogizing Gotti, saying he made their streets clean and cared about his community and was, essentially, a hero. It’s amazingly misguided, like director Kevin Connolly (“E” fro HBO’s Entourage) has suffered Stockholm syndrome from his lunk-headed, murderous criminals. That same sense of misjudgment is never more adamant than in the musical score by pop star Pitbull. Read that again. There’s a sequence where Gotti goes out on furlough and is escorted to kill an associate, and the musical score is jaunty and uptempo. There were several moments where the score just took my breath away, so tonally disjointed was this mostly modern-day musical score. The movie is structured as an ongoing series of interviews between Gotti Sr. (Travolta) and his adult son, with choice flashbacks interspersed. We don’t even get a rise-and-fall sort of formula. It never provides sufficient evidence why Gotti was interesting at all and worth a big screen biopic. The dialogue feels like it was written with all exclamation points. Nothing is subtle or left to the imagination here, and that extends into the scenery-chewing acting as well from a bunch of unmemorable stock roles. There is also a 1996 TV movie about John Gotti starring Armand Assante. Sight unseen, it must almost assuredly be the better movie and more worth two hours of your precious time.

Nate’s Grade: D+

Savages (2012)

Savages has been described as a “return to form” from prolific director Oliver Stone, who has spent the last decade making straight biopics (W., Alexander) and safe feel-good movies (World Trade Center). The less said about Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps the better. You never thought one of the world’s edgiest filmmakers would follow such a square path. I can’t fault people for getting excited by Savages, hoping this drug-addled crime thriller can revive the gonzo sensibilities of the man. Well, Savages isn’t going to satisfy most people, especially those looking for a cohesive story, characters that grab your interest, and an ending that manages to stay true thematically with the rest of the movie. In short, Savages is a savage mess of a movie but not even an entertaining mess. It’s just a boring mess, and that is the film’s biggest sin.

Best friends Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) are living the American dream. They began farming their own marijuana plants, using the best seeds form Afghanistan while Chon was on tour with the military. Together, the guys have produced a product high in THC that blows away the competition. They have flourished in California. Now a Mexican cartel, lead by Elena (Salma Hayek), wants in on their business, and they won’t take no for an answer. The cartel kidnaps the boys’ shared girlfriend, O (Blake Lively), and promises to hold her ransom for one year unless the boys agree to their terms. Chon and Ben decide to use their considerable resources to put the squeeze on Elena and her team of scumbags, all the while looking for a way to rescue their shared love of their life.

It’s a lurid movie all right. Plenty of sex, drugs, and violence, but man oh man is it all just empty diversions because the movie cannot survive its trio of unlikable, uninteresting, and painfully dull characters. O, Chon, and Ben have a dearth of charisma; light cannot escape their black hole of charisma. What sinks Savages is the realization that it’s just a shoddy movie filled with a lot of skuzzy characters but hardly anyone that merits genuine interest. We’ve got skuzzy good guys, skuzzy bad guys, but where are the personalities? Where are the quirks or the hooks to drive our interest? Just having Benicio del Toro (The Wolfman) act weird and mumbly is not enough to cover the shortcomings of his character. I’ve read reviews where critics cite del Toro as “hypnotic.” I have no idea what they’re talking about. He’s just your average skuzzy bad guy you’d find in any mediocre crime picture; he just so happens to be played by Benicio del Toro. The DEA Agent John Travolta (From Paris with Love) plays is your typical skuzzy desk weasel; he just so happens to be played by John Travolta. And that’s where the movie falters. We have all these characters on all sides of the law but we couldn’t give a damn for any of them. O comes across like an annoying, privileged, faux intellectual. Chon is a meathead. Ben is an amorphous do-gooder. I don’t care about their problems and I especially don’t care about them retrieving O so they can return to their vague polyamorous lifestyle. She wasn’t worth all the effort, nor where these men worth dying over. At any point in the film, I wanted these characters to hastily die so that I might, just out of chance, come across a more interesting figure. I received no salvation.

Our trio of bland characters is made flesh by a trio of bad performances. First off, people have got to be realizing that the kind of lived-in, edgy, and compelling performance Lively pulled off in 2010’s The Town is more the exception than the rule. Stop casting her in gritty parts unless they are directed by Ben Affleck. As O, our zombie narrator, she does little to make us sympathize with her dumb plight. Then there’s Kitsch (Battleship) who is just having a record year of high-profile flops. He’s done fine acting work before, but as Chon he’s just another ramped-up hothead with little else on his mind. Johnson (Kick-Ass) has the most “flavor” of the trio, acting granola-y and with philanthropic ambitions, but he’s still just another meathead just in different clothes. All three of these characters are idiots and the young actors don’t find any way to redeem them.

Actually, I found Salma Hayerk’s character the most interesting and would have enjoyed a movie based around her dilemma. Elena’s husband was the head of a drug cartel. He was assassinated, so the duties would have fallen to her son, but in order to protect him she assumed power. She has an estranged relationship with her youngest daughter, Magda (Sandra Echeverria), who is ashamed of her mother. This, Elena tells us, makes her produ; she is proud that her daughter is ashamed. Now just look at all those contradictions and complexities inherent with this character. She’s assumed a duty she did not want, something she knows is morally wrong, but she does so in the interest of protecting her children, even if it means pushing them away and having them despise her. And because she’s a woman, any wrong move and her competitors would be ready to pounce. Plus you add the day-to-day anxieties of a life of crime, the threat of betrayal or some upstart wanting to make a name for himself, and you have the makings of a great character drama. But do we get even a little of this? No. Instead, Elena’s just portrayed as another colorful villain. The supporting cast is peopled with what should be seen as “colorful” characters, but really these people are just as skuzzy and boring and personality-free as our loser ménage a trois.

I suppose there is a certain pleasure seeing Stone return to his blood-soaked, violent, gonzo self. The man has a certain enviable madness when it comes to composing a movie, a mad fever of images and sensations. From that standpoint, Savages is at least watchable even though you would rather see most of the characters get hit by a car. I just wish if Stone was going to go nuts that he committed and went all the way, bathing this movie in his lurid predilections as we tumbled down the rabbit hole of the underground world of organized crime. If you’re going to assault my senses with excess then at least have the gall to be excessive. How can you make a lurid movie but EVERY woman onscreen engaging in sex is clothed? That seems unrealistic even for a movie this stupid. Stone seems to have no problem dragging out uncomfortable rape scenes, so who knows what the further implications of that are. There are several grisly torture scenes and some random brutality, so you’ll at least be kept awake in spurts by people screaming.

Too much of this supposed crime picture is caught up in the oppressively irritating soap opera between O, Chon, and Ben (a little part of my soul dies every time I have to type “Chon” as a main character name). The script, based upon Dan Winslow’s novel, adapted by Shane Salerno, Stone and Winslow as well, is a mess but not even an enjoyable mess. Some of this dialogue is just laugh-out-loud bad. O opens the movie saying she has orgasms but Chon, you see, has… “wargasms.” Oh ye God, that one hurt. Every time we’re subjected to O’s protracted, monotone narration the movie loses whatever momentum it may have had.

She keeps saying, “Just because I’m telling this story, doesn’t mean I’m alive at the end.” Can you promise me that? Then there’s the very stupid ending, where the movie tries to have it both ways. It gets its bloody, operatic, tragic lovers ending…. and then in the next breath a happy ending as well, a ridiculously inappropriate happy ending. At least bloody and dead would have been satisfying. It’s a cop-out, a cheat, and a mystifying way to end a movie.

I wanted Savages to be a wild thrill ride. I never expected to be bored. Even when things go off the rails, the movie struggles to keep your interest. Blame the inane screenplay that eventually resorts to a cheap, cop-out of an ending, one that barely rises above the “it was all a dream” blunder. Blame the pathetic character and their lack of personality. Blame the strange feeling that Stone is holding back. Blame the bad performances. Blame the lack of fun. Blame the overwrought nature of the title the movie twists into knots trying to give some philosophical meaning. And finally, you might want to blame yourself for thinking that this movie would be any good in the first place. When movies are this mediocre, this lacking in intrigue, you almost wish they had tipped over completely into irredeemable garbage just so you’d at least have something worth watching. Savages is a strange crime thriller that manages to assemble all sorts of exploitation elements and then fumbles them all. If this is Stone in a “return to form,” I weep for what that entails.

Nate’s Grade: C

From Paris with Love (2010)

Sometimes a strict genre film can be forgiven its clichés. You find the characters interesting, the actors are having a grand time, or the director finds a way to make old seem new. And sometimes a movie just gets sunk to the watery depths of boredom thanks to an overabundance of genre clichés. From Paris with Love is the latter. I had higher hopes for the film coming from the director of 2009’s Taken, which defied a ball of clichés to be a fairly kick-ass and efficient action caper. Paris involves the tired setup of the straight-laced guy matched up with the reckless loose canon. John Travolta gets to chew every piece of scenery not nailed down. Travolta unhinged has its pleasures, but if the entire movie is Travolta’s theatrical tantrums and some scattered explosions, then forget it. We watch Travolta act up, go overboard, and then eventually be proven right. This formula is repeated ad nauseam. The silly plot involves a Pakistani terrorist strike against the U.S. ambassador at the African summit in Paris (convoluted much?). The twists and double-crosses are easily telegraphed, and most of the action sequences are poorly edited and structured, and the attempts at humor fall deadly flat. From Paris with Love is a stupid action movie for all the wrong reasons.

Nate’s Grade: C

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

This needless remake is yet another nail in the coffin for the filmmaker that is (was?) Tony Scott. The director seems to have a love affair with irritating and superfluous visual artifice. Scenes will jump into slow-mo, or stutter-stop speed, or the visuals will all of a sudden turn into blurry shadows. Scott proves yet again that he’d rather fiddle around with film stocks and random jarring effects than aid his narrative. The story of Pelham is rather mediocre, as a tattooed gunman (John Travolta) and his crew take a subway car hostage. A train dispatcher (Denzel Washington) becomes the only one allowed to speak to the gunman. Travolta is wholly unconvincing as a profane criminal mastermind. The villains are gruff idiots, some of whom think at the end that maybe, just maybe, they can get the jump on 30 armed policemen surrounding them. They were not the top of their class at Henchmen School. The story is frustrating and the character motivations for Travolta remain vague and unclear. Sure, he gets financial gain, but what else? What about his shady past? Why this specific route to this mundane goal? It’s like Scott and the movie simply just didn’t care anymore because they knew it was time for the film to end in a big chase scene. Also, the movie seems to make a case that NYC cops are the worst drivers in the world. They crash more cars than Billy Joel (joke brought to you by the year 2003). This is one train to miss.

Nate’s Grade: C

Wild Hogs (2007)

It’s hard to imagine that this lowbrow, homophobic, uninspired, painfully nostalgic film is the top grossing comedy of the year so far. I don’t really want to further elaborate on what this says about the general public. The boys (John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, a more random grouping of actors I challenge you to find) are all henpecked and unhappy with their dull, predictable, socially comfortable lives, so what’s a group of men facing midlife crises to do? Road trip. The idea of the freedom of the open road and the rebelliousness of touring the country on the back of a motorcycle seems quaint and naive at this point in life. What follows on their biker odyssey is a lot of lame slapstick and each actor trying to outdo the other in masculinity. A protracted third act standoff brings the film to a halt that it can never recuperate from. Wild Hogs isn’t a comedy disaster of sorts but it’s definitely got enough aimless misogyny and retroactive Boomer nostalgia to make you gag.

Nate’s Grade: C-

The Punisher (2004)

It’s probably a bad omen when the co-writer of Armageddon makes his directorial debut (J.J. Abrams is a fluke). The Punisher is one of the ugliest movies I have ever seen. The action isn’t exciting; it’s pat, poorly shot and grotesque. The story isn’t interesting. It’s not enough that The Punisher has his family killed; he has to have his ENTIRE family killed during a reunion. When he does exact his vengeance, the film stops an audience from engaging with the characters and pushes them away by callous misstep after callous misstep. This is just sadistic, ugly, and over-the-top while simultaneously being entirely, sadly predictable. By the time John Travolta gets dragged by a slow-moving car through a field of explosions, you may have thrown up in your mouth, swallowed it, and thrown up again.

Nate’s Grade: D

Swordfish (2001)

Swordfish starts off with a helluva wallop. John Travolta opens with a monologue about why “Hollywood is full of shit,” specifically the problems with Dog Day Afternoon and what a real criminal with hostages could have done. When the conversation ends and Travolta finishes his coffee, he stands up, thanks his gentlemen, and then we quickly discover Travolta is holding hostages in a bank each strapped with powerful explosives. During some miscommunication and arrogance from the FBI brass (as always) snipers take out one of Travolta’s baddies and try and whisk away a hostage. As they try and rush her out in slow motion the pounds of C4 strapped to her chest detonate and a monumental explosion erupts. But as it slowly does the camera whips around in a circle, even entering various buildings, to give a full picture of the destructive wave of the explosion. The effect is magnificent and wonderfully pulled off. The beginning ten or so minutes really wake you up and keep your eyes open.

A few days prior to this incident is where the story then sets off to fill in. Gabriel Shear (Travolta) is a powerful man with the world at his fingertips. He sends out his seductive siren Ginger (Halle Berry) to recruit the recently released Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) for a special mission. Stanley is a hacking genius and has been ordered to stay clear of any computer as well as from his young daughter. Gabriel’s offer comes with a cash advance just for a meeting that is too good to pass up. After an initiation of Stanley’s skills he is set up to create a super virus that will drain the CIA of billions of dollars in unused and unknown funds. All the while FBI agent A.D. Roberts (Don Cheadle) is on the trail of Gabriel the super spy and trying to coerce Stanley into helping him bring the superman crashing.

The script is nothing new. It is complete with the familiar double crossings and surprise affiliations to render out the duration of our film. Some moments are just over-the-top stupid, like Jackman’s initiation test which requires him to break a computer code whilst a gun is pressed to his head and a blonde gives him a blowjob. Stanley has a boozing ex-wife now remarried to a porn king with custody of his daughter, and he doesn’t think he can win because he was in prison?

Dominic Sena gave us the driving on empty Gone in 60 Seconds last summer. Sena seems to really love florescent lighting when it comes to his films. The actors are bathed in bevy of bright greens and oranges for two hours. Sena delivers a film that pretty much has an idea its nothing but fast food, and it seem to not let something like that drag it down but actually help improve itself. It’s like Wild Things in the aspect it knows it’s just slick trash but damn if it isn’t going to be a fun ride.

Swordfish has been made critic proof. One could complain about the plot contrivances and the pat ending, but you can always go back to Travolta’s opening dissertation. Certain revelations occur in the film that will make you question who really is the bad guy in the end. The makers of Swordfish have gone about and made their action flick critic proof.

A disappointment is that there really is only three action sequences in the entire movie. I will say this now and may it be heard clear – TYPING IS NOT EXCITING! Watching someone type fast at a keyboard is never entertaining. Do not build an action movie around typing. If you do you might as well have action while people play Turbo Pong.

The acting is irrelevant, though Jackman is a winning face and actor. Travolta looks like the lower half of his face has freakishly widened. Much has been made about Halle Berry going topless for the movie – well it lasts about four seconds. The scene involves Jackman asking her where Travolta has gone while she sits outside reading a book. She flips the book over to reveal her breasts and basically the film uses it for Jackman to have a comic reaction. This was not necessary at all. This was entirely gratuitous and used for comic effect for God’s sake. But the movie is unabashedly about sleek violence and sex, so it can be forgiven.

Swordfish is the right kind of mindless action for the summer. It keeps you awake and engaged. And I’d rather see this eighty times again before seeing Tomb Raider one more time.

Nate’s Grade: B-

Battlefield Earth (2000)

I don’t have enough time nor the patience to actually write down a full review for this “movie” so instead I’m going to just list things that make this movie the toilet paper it is.

1) It’s based on a 1000+ page novel that even sci-fi purists regard as corny. Writer/Religious founder L. Ron Hubbarb certainly hasn’t found any grail in writing. The film of his novel only covers half of the book with the other half Travolta had planned for a sequel. Let me tell ya, you’d have to be a really REALLY devout Scientologist to believe that a sequel’s on its way here. There’s more of a chance that Howard’s End will be granted a sequel then Battlefield Earth.

2) Travolta has never been more nasal-voiced annoying before in his life. He’s the snarling Security head of the vastly “advanced” alien species that has enslaved Earth yet he knows nothing about his prisoners. Doesn’t sound like the person (or alien) you want in charge of… security now does it?

3) Why are the aliens 9-feet tall? Why do they have nose tubes? Why do they have long tongues — except for a really awful overt oral sex joke? Why do they do and look like anything if nothing happens? All they are is tall and that’s it. So form a basketball team out of them and tell them to watch their heads. Nothing makes sense, it’s all just added for the sake of being added – with the consistency of chicken broth.

4) Travolta hatches a plan to steal gold from the planet. My God, did we just fall into a Western? Because of course gold is worth the same amount and value on a distant alien home world as it is here. Makes total sense. This part I actually hit myself in the head over.

5) The human survivors dupe Travolta with gold bars they find at Ft. Knox — just stumbling onto it 1000 years later. Man who needs any sense of direction in a post apocalyptic war-world?

6) The humans counter the aliens in the end by flying 1000 year old ARMY aircraft. These fighter planes are spic and span and fully mobile after 1000 years of rust and mildew Cascade couldn’t touch?

7) Everything is shot tilted, I mean EVERY single shot in the damn movie — EVERYONE! You’ll come out with a stiff neck to compensate. It’s like the camera man fell asleep and nobody had the heart to wake him up during the whole picture. I know I’d want to get away.

8) The aliens figure man to be incompetent and no threat despite the fact that he was highly civilized beforehand with plenty of weapons accessible. Go fig.

9) Every action sequence in this movie is either a blithe series of close-ups or slow mo shots. And don’t forget the slanted pictures.

10) Travolta is so annoying, even his action figure I saw on a clearance sale is just as annoying, he gets mentioned twice. How the hell did he think this movie would sell I’ll never know?

11) There’s only one hot girl in the entire scavenged world and she has to end up being Barry Pepper’s love interest, probably because he is given his “knowledge” back which means he also is now only interested in hot girls. And what is her fate? Only to be eventually held hostage later… of course!

12) Travolta’s character is the greatest moron in the universe! No person would even have them in charge of anything except a cafeteria lunch line.

13) The effects are really cheesy.

14) The dialogue is BEYOND the realm of cheese.

15) Battlefield Earth tried to brainwash me into a 9-foot tall Scientologist with a thirst for gold and a requisite for calling those around me “rat brain” to mask my own insecurities and nasal voice.

I think The Washington Post said it best when they said “A million monkeys with a million crayons in a million years could write something better then Battlefield Earth,” and I’d have to agree.

Nate’s Grade: F

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