Canberra Times, Sat 14 Oct 2000?

Battlefield Earth

* [1 star]

Battlefield Earth, content: the stragglers of humanity struggle to free Earth from tyrannical aliens from the planet Psychlo. Battlefield Earth, critique: humourless, bloodless, witless, dull. Spasmodic pacing. Puzzling direction. Flat-line tension. Villains burly yet effete, heroes earnest yet embarrassing, characters without sympathy, camaraderie, or change of expression. Acting that comes from out of the silent era, scoring which predates it. Violence without triumph, romance without passion, death without caring.

Special effects that were thought lost to the '70s, consisting of rocks and rag dolls being tossed in front of a lens. Production design extravagant in execution, penurious in conception. Dialogue that sounds like it was written after production, by writers watching what had already been shot (and sometimes not watching). Characters reduced to squeak-toys, squawking empty platitudes and melodramatic effusions when pressure is applied.

Action scenes shot in slow motion to look like our heroes are gamboling into battle. Battle choreography which consists of shooting everything moving, exploding everything not. Exposition so lacking we wonder where we are and who we're with. Lighting so glaring it may cause epileptic fits in the audience. It certainly seemed so for the cameraman.

Too much plot crammed into two hours, not enough story. Story which busies itself with saving humanity, while never giving any indication that humanity is worth saving. Plot holes which provide the only entertainment value the film has.

Hubbard's vaunted imagination has been traded for contrivance, detail for obscuring camera-angles, unpredictability for confusion, scintillation for audience reflexes to strident noise and intense light, larger-than-life characters for cardboard cut-outs shriveled with age. Climax which matches Independence Day for improbability and surpasses it for incoherence. Victory which comes too early to be any testament to the indomitable human spirit. Unconvincing, unmoving, uninvolving, trite. - Stuart Roberts

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