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Movie Review

Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (called "Greener" by his friends) is essentially a Y3K caveman. He and all remaining humans on earth have been reduced to such an existence by an alien invasion that decimated the globe in a mere nine minutes. Now, years later, few humans even know that their "captors" are aliens, and refer to the nine-foot-tall monsters as gods. But Greener (as in, the grass in always greener ...) wants more from life so he sets out to confront these gods. He's immediately captured and imprisoned in what remains of the Denver Zoo. Meanwhile, Terl, the alien's head honcho on earth, plots to make more money by using the "human-animals" as slaves to mine gold out of the Colorado mountains. To accomplish this, he hooks Jonnie up to a "learning machine" that, in a matter of hours, teaches him the aliens' language, history, technology, etc. Terl wants Jonnie to use his "education" to serve him, but instead-surprise, surprise-Jonnie uses it against Terl in an effort to free all mankind from the aliens' evil clutches.

Positive Elements: Jonnie risks everything to save the world. That's about it.

Spiritual Content: Virtually none, barring the possibility of obscure references to Scientology. Oddly enough, the evil spacemen, known as Psychlos, seem to believe in hell as a place of punishment after death. One comment implies that earth is a worse place than hell. (See the summary for more thoughts on the relationship between Battlefield Earth and Scientology.)

Sexual Content: No nudity. No sex. An alien woman with a long tongue (it's a good two or three feet long) makes suggestive comments and licks Terl. A few other minor sexual innuendoes also arise.

Violent Content: The vast majority of screen time is devoted to a series of violent crescendos. Humans fight humans. Aliens fight aliens. Humans fight aliens. Everyone fights. Fists, clubs, laser guns, bombs and even nuclear missiles all stand in line waiting for their turns. A few scenes spare moviegoers from gory details (when Terl uses an explosive collar to blow off a human's head, he does so off-screen), but much of the carnage plays out front-and-center.

Crude or Profane Language: Not much considering the genre. Between 15 and 20 mild profanities, and possibly a couple stronger expletives (muted by the sounds of pillaging and killing).

Drug and Alcohol Content: The aliens "belly up to the bar" and drink what one can only assume are intoxicants.

Other Negative Elements: Psychlos try to force-feed the humans live rats (they think people like to eat the raw meat, having seen Greener and his friends eat a rat to survive in the wilderness).

Summary: Two basic points must be made about the movie Battlefield Earth. 1) It is based on a book written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. 2) It's one of the most forgettable films of the year. Much speculation has mounted over whether or not Battlefield Earth serves as a publicity vehicle for Scientology. But even after seeing the film, the majority of moviegoers won't know. That's largely because most people outside of the world of Scientology know next to nothing about it. Suffice it to say that since Hubbard wrote the story, there are surely links to the "religion" he created contained in the plot. But nothing in the movie screams, "Join Scientology Now!" Indeed, the film is strictly grade-B sci-fi. It's so inane, so poorly scripted, so wretchedly acted that if it was intended as publicity, Scientology leaders must be shaking their heads wondering what they were thinking. The New York Times says Battlefield Earth "may well turn out to be the worst movie of this century." Entertainment Weekly calls it "a lumbering, poorly photographed piece of derivative sci-fi drivel." Rumors about Scientology conspiracy theories, subliminal messages and recruitment campaigns may continue to swirl, but this movie is just too unremarkable for most viewers to be even remotely impacted.

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John Travolta as Terl; Barry Pepper as Jonnie Goodboy Tyler; Forest Whitaker as Ker; Kelly Preston as Chirk


Roger Christian ( )


Warner Bros.



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Steven Isaac

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