Tag Archives: john travolta

I Am Wrath

I Am Wrath

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Today, I’m going to take a look at a 2016 direct-to-video action flick starring John Travolta: I Am Wrath.

The plot of I Am Wrath is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A man is out for justice after a group of corrupt police officers are unable to catch his wife’s killer.

I Am Wrath was directed by Chuck Russell, who is best known for movies like the 1988 remake of The Blob, The Mask, The Scorpion King, and A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors.

The cast for the movie is headlined by John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Face/Off. Grease) and Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Man of Steel), with additional performances by Amanda Schull (Suits, Twelve Monkeys), Sam Trammell (True Blood), Patrick St. Esprit (Narcos, Sons of Anarchy), and Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business, Wedding Crashers).

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The music for I Am Wrath was composed by Haim Mazar, whose other credits include The Iceman, The Taking of Deborah Logan, and the television show Teen Mom.

The cinematographer for the film was Andrzej Sekula, who shot the cult favorite movies American Psycho, Hackers, Four Rooms, Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs, and also directed the horror sequel Cube 2: Hypercube.

I Am Wrath was filmed primarily in the city of Columbus, OH, a non-typical location for a film production. A number of local landmarks show up in the movie, including the Ohio Statehouse, the illuminated arches of High Street, and the local diner chain Buckeye Donuts.

Rumor has it that the initial plan for the film was for William Friedkin, of The Exorcist and The French Connection, to direct, with Nicolas Cage in the starring role. However, numerous delays led to the eventual combination of Russell and Travolta.

The title of the film, I Am Wrath, is a reference to the Bible passage Jeremiah 6:11, which reads as follows in the New International Version of the text:

But I am full of the wrath of the Lord,
    and I cannot hold it in.

“Pour it out on the children in the street
    and on the young men gathered together;
both husband and wife will be caught in it,
    and the old, those weighed down with years.

Upon their release, the promotional images and posters for I Am Wrath were the subject of widespread online mockery for their incompetent and awkward construction.

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“this…has left me at a complete loss for words. All I can do is implore you to share this post with as many people as possible. The world needs to know.” – Scott Wampler, Birth.Movies.Death.

I Am Wrath ultimately released straight to video, and was not received warmly. It currently holds Rotten Tomatoes scores of 11% from critics and 34% from audiences, along with an IMDb user rating of 5.3/10.

For the past few years, I have been living and working in Columbus, OH, so I happened to be around while I Am Wrath was filming locally. Outside of a few blips in the news about John Travolta being in town for a role, I didn’t hear a whole lot about it. However, it was interesting to see familiar locations on screen while watching the movie: for folks in New York or Los Angeles, that is probably no big deal, but seeing Columbus on screen was kind of bizarre.

Despite a handful of interesting visuals peppered throughout the movie, I Am Wrath is far and away dominated and defined by its central performances. Unfortunately, thanks to John Travolta’s half-sleepwalking rendition of a mercenary / car factory administrator, the movie is all the weaker because of it. That said, Christopher Meloni provides the film with an iota of charm and levity with his improvised wit, though he is woefully missed when not on screen (which is, unfortunately, often). Meloni, unlike Travolta, seems to understand the schlock that he is wrapped up in, and leans into the absurdity of the situation, and clearly enjoys his tough guy routine.

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Travolta, by contrast, is a black hole: a human-shaped void that made me question if this was the same hammy scenery-chewer I remembered from Face/Off, Swordfish, and Battlefield Earth. Say what you will about any of those performances, but the guy was never lacking in passion or enthusiasm in those roles.

Beyond Travolta’s banal lead performance, the biggest issue with I Am Wrath is almost certainly the screenplay, which is basically a paint-by-numbers revenge plot. There are a few things I liked about it, though: for instance, there’s a RoboCop-like dynamic between some of the villains, which is always nice to see. However, there is also a lot of bad dialogue, and way too much information is revealed far too blatantly for the message to have much of a punch. Worst of all, I think the I Am Wrath screenplay has one of the most egregious and hilarious examples of a placeholder character name making it all the way to the final draft: Governor Merserve, the self-serving Governor. That’s just inexcusable.

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Honestly, I wish there was something to recommend about I Am Wrath. Unless you are a big fan of Christopher Meloni, or a Columbus local interested in seeing the city on screen, there just isn’t anything compelling here. Even the action sequences aren’t terribly enthralling, and are by and large forgettable. If you want a cheesy action movie, look into whatever Nic Cage has out this week, and give this one a pass.

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Be Cool

Be Cool

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Today’s flick is the 2005 sequel to Get Shorty, starring John Travolta: Be Cool.

The screenplay writer for Be Cool was Steven Steinfeld, who also penned the films 21, Drowning Mona, and Analyze That.

Be Cool was directed and produced by F. Gary Gray, who is currently slated to helm the assured blockbuster Furious 8, and has previous directing credits on the 2003 remake of The Italian Job, A Man Apart, Friday, and The Negotiator.

The cinematographer for the film was Jeffrey L. Kimball, whose other credits include Top Gun, True Romance, Jacob’s Ladder, and Paycheck.

The editor for Be Cool was Sheldon Kahn, who also cut the movies Space Jam, Junior, Twins, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

becool4The musical score for Be Cool was provided by John Powell, who has composed music for movies like Face/Off, The Lorax, Antz, Shrek, Rat Race, Gigli, and Kung Fu Panda, among many others.

Outside of director F. Gary Gray, the team of producers for Be Cool included co-star Danny DeVito, Michael Siegel (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Stacey Sher (Gattaca, Pulp Fiction), Michael Shamberg (Matilda, Garden State), David Nicksay (Flubber, Stay Tuned, Freejack), Linda Favila (Swordfish, Battlefield Earth), and Anson Downes (Wild Hogs, Old Dogs).

The makeup effects for the movie were provided by Michelle Bühler (Swordfish, Face/Off, The People Under The Stairs), Jeff Dawn (Deep Blue Sea, Jingle All The Way), Autumn Moultrie (Boston Legal), Kyra Panchenko (Glitter), and Laini Thompson (Demolition Man, Black Dynamite).

The special effects team for Be Cool included David Greene (Hollow Man, Red Dragon), James Lorimer (Van Helsing, Cellular, Marmaduke), Steve Austin (Nightcrawler, Interstellar, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2), Ronald W. Mathews (Blade, Serenity), Ken Pepiot (Small Soldiers, Predator 2), Elia P. Popov (Top Gear, The Fifth Element), Gintar Repecka (The Golden Child, Inspector Gadget), and Ken Rudell (State of Play).

The visual effects for the movie were provided in part by Adam Avery (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), Tyler Foell (Daredevil, Torque, Epic Movie, 12 Rounds), Mark Freund (Rollerball, Van Helsing), Bonnie Kanner (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Green Lantern), Ray McIntyre Jr. (Red Planet, 12 Rounds), Liz Radley (Gigli, Death to Smoochy, Small Soldiers, On Deadly Ground), and Bob Wiatr (Wishmaster, Mystery Men).

The cast of Be Cool is made up of Uma Thurman (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction), John Travolta (Swordfish, Face/Off, Battlefield Earth), Danny DeVito (Death to Smoochy, Throw Momma From The Train, War of the Roses), Harvey Keitel (Bad Lieutenant, Beeper, Pulp Fiction), Vince Vaughn (Swingers, Wedding Crashers, The Cell), Debi Mazar (Space Truckers), Steven Tyler (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Walking Tall, Furious 7, Doom), James Woods (Casino, Best Seller, Vampires, Cat’s Eye, Videodrome), Robert Pastorelli (Eraser, Sister Act 2, Dances With Wolves), Christina Milian (Pulse, Torque), Paul Adelstein (Private Practice, Prison Break), Gregory Alan Williams (Baywatch, The West Wing), Cedric The Entertainer (The Steve Harvey Show, The Honeymooners), and André Benjamin (Four Brothers, Revolver).

becool3The plot for Be Cool is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Disenchanted with the movie industry, Chili Palmer tries the music industry, meeting and romancing a widow of a music executive on the way.

Elmore Leonard wrote the novel of the same name on which Be Cool is adapted from, and gets a writing and producing credit for the story and concept as a result. Other works of his have been turned into films and television shows like Get Shorty, 3:10 To Yuma, Jackie Brown, and Justified.

Uma Thurman was apparently cast based on John Travolta’s recommendation. A number of other actresses were considered for the part, including Travolta’s Swordfish co-star Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, and Jennifer Connolly.

Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed Get Shorty, had every intention of directing this sequel, but had to back out due to scheduling conflicts caused by production delays. Once he left, apparently Brett Ratner was approached before F. Gary Gray was ultimately given the job.

Be Cool unfortunately proved to be actor Robert Pastorelli’s last film, as he died of an accidental drug overdose before the movie hit theaters.

Be Cool features cameos from the music and film industries anywhere they could cram them in. People that receive screen-time include Gene Simmons, Anna Nicole Smith, The Black Eyed Peas, the RZA, Aerosmith, Fred Durst, Wyclef Jean, and Sergio Mendes.

Be Cool was far from a critical success: currently, it holds a 5.6 rating on IMDb, alongside Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 30% from critics and 42% from audiences. Financially, however, it proved profitable: on a production budget of $53 million, it grossed just over $95 million in its worldwide theatrical release.

One of Be Cool‘s biggest weaknesses is that it lacks some of the charm of Get Shorty, because Travolta’s character isn’t really a fish out of water anymore, which was the core of the premise of the preceding film. Also, somewhat ironically, the movie suffers a bit from being too “cool”: the dialogue is executed with a little too much flow and suave, to the point that the characters don’t seem like human beings anymore.

Speaking of which, Be Cool is heavily weighed down by the sheer size of the cast: it is packed not only with characters, but also with a constant stream of cameos. On the surface this isn’t too much of a problem, but the issue comes when none of the characters get enough time to feel realistic, which is compounded by the dialogue issues mentioned previously. Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson, for example, are one-dimensional caricatures more than they are characters, which means most of the humor winds up coming from their wackiness, which is lazy and low for a film that should really be wittier.

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The combination of Uma Thurman and John Travolta, which electrified audiences when they were working with Quentin Tarantino’s dialogue, is absolutely flat in Be Cool, which is almost surreal to see. The difference between their performances in Be Cool and Pulp Fiction certainly speaks volumes for how important dialogue writing is for actors to put in effective performances. If the foundation is shaky, the house isn’t going to be hold.

Overall, Be Cool is a shallow celebrity showcase that cashes in more on association with other movies than it creates anything unique or entertaining in its own right. It is totally watchable, but not terribly entertaining, as many Hollywood comedies wind up being. For people who really liked Get Shorty, it is worth seeing for the novelty of it. For everyone else, this is sort of a toss-up as to whether it is worth your time to sit through.

Face/Off

Face/Off

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Today’s feature is John Woo’s 1997 hammy acting showdown, Face/Off.

Face/Off was written and produced by the duo of Mike Werb (The Mask, Darkman III, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) and Michael Colleary (Death Wish V, Firehouse Dog).

The director for the film was action movie icon John Woo, who has been behind films like Red Cliff, Paycheck, Mission Impossible II, Hard Target, and Broken Arrow over his career.

The cinematographer on Face/Off was Oliver Wood, who shot such movies as Die Hard 2, The Other Guys, Neon Maniacs, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, U-571, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, and Rudy.

Face/Off featured two editors: Steven Kemper (Legion, Timecop, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Aspen Extreme) and Christian Wagner (True Romance, Bad Boys, Furious 7, The Island).

The other producers for the movie included actor Michael Douglas (Ant-Man, The Game, Falling Down), Jonathan D. Krane (Swordfish, Battlefield Earth, CHUD II: Bud the Chud), Steven Reuther (Hider In The House, Under Siege), Terence Chang (Paycheck, Windtalkers), David Permut (Captain Ron, Farce of the Penguins), Jeff Levine (Slither, 8MM), and Barrie M. Osborne (The Matrix, Cotton Club).

faceoff5The music for the film was provided by John Powell, and was his future-length film credit. He has since provided scores for movies like Antz, The Road To El Dorado, Shrek, Rat Race, The Bourne Identity, Gigli, Happy Feet, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, and How To Train Your Dragon, among others.

The special effects unit included such workers as Bryan Sides (Mimic, Species II), Robert DeVine (Wild Wild West, RoboCop 3), Tony Acosta (Bordello of Blood, Volcano), Joseph Mercurio (Mommie Dearest, 8MM), Henry Millar, Jr. (Young Frankenstein, Capricorn One), David A. Poole (Gigli, Waterworld), Anthony Simonaitis (Torque, Swordfish), R. Bruce Steinheimer (John Wick, Argo, The Running Man), and Richard Zarro (Class of 1999, Predator 2).

faceoff4The visual effects team for the movie included Allen Blaisdell (Red Planet, Dracula 2000, Theodore Rex, Shocker), Derry Frost (Epic Movie, Swordfish, Torque), Douglas Harsch (Dracula 2000, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Richard E. Hollander (Winter’s Tale, Daredevil, Timecop), Mark Tait Lewis (Red Planet, Deep Blue Sea), and Scott Schneider (On Deadly Ground).

The makeup effects in Face/Off were provided by a team that included David Atherton (Shocker), Ken Brilliant (Congo), Michelle Bühler (Swordfish, The People Under The Stairs), Grady Holder (Pick Me Up, Lake Placid, Small Soldiers, The Island of Doctor Moreau, Children of the Corn III, Waterworld), Nina Kraft (Con Air, The Rock), Mike Measimer (Stuck, Space Truckers, Castle Freak), Gilbert Mosko (Bratz, Star Trek: First Contact), Brian Penikas (Trick or Treat, Leviathan), Shaun Smith (Captain America, Children of the Corn III), Mario Torres Jr. (Hollow Man, Starship Troopers), Kevin Yagher (The Dentist, 976-EVIL, Trick or Treat, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2), and Mark Yagher (Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow).

The cast for Face/Off includes Nicolas Cage (Vampire’s Kiss, Con Air), John Travolta (Battlefield Earth, Swordfish), Joan Allen (Pleasantville), Alessandro Nivola (Jurassic Park III), Gina Gershon (The Insider, Showgirls), Nick Cassavetes (Blind Fury, Class of 1999 II), and Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea, The Punisher).

faceoff6The plot of Face/Off follows an obsessive cop (Travolta) and his criminal arch-nemesis (Cage), who is captured after an intense sting. However, it is decided after the raid that Travolta must go undercover to foil a pending plot by Cage’s organization. In order to do this, he must pose as Cage, who has fallen into a coma with severe injuries. He goes through an experimental surgery to graft Cage’s face onto his own, and begins the operation completely off the books. Cage unexpectedly revives in police custody (sans face), and easily steals Travolta’s identity, thus turning the undercover plot upside down. What follows is an epic duel of mistaken identities and deception.

Reportedly, John Woo insisted on leaving the slash in the title of Face/Off (in defiance of the studio) to ensure that people would not think that the film was about hockey.

faceoff7The original screenplay for the movie had the plot taking place in the distant future, which helps to explain some of the futuristic  technologies showcased in the prion and the surgeries. John Woo is said to have specifically changed the setting to the present day to make the conflict more identifiable and dramatic.

Mark Wahlberg apparently turned down the role of Pollox Troy, Nicolas Cage’s brother and right hand man in Face/Off. Other potential alternate castings had Stallone and Schwarzenegger in the lead roles, Patrick Swayze, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, or Jean Claude Van Damme involved in some capacity, the Heat combo of Pacino and De Niro taking the leads, or the far more unlikely duo of Harrison Ford and producer Michael Douglas headlining.

The high-tech magnetic boots worn in the prison sequences were reused props the featured prominently in Super Mario Bros., which released four years earlier.

faceoff3 faceoff2Face/Off was made on a significant budget of $80 million, on which it managed to gross over $245 million in its lifetime theatrical run. Critics and audience both generally liked it, and it is fondly remembered as one of the most bizarre action movies of the era. Currently, it holds Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 92% from critics and 83% from audiences, alongside an IMDb score of 7.3.

What is there to say about the joy that is Face/Off? This is a showcase of two of the hammiest showboats in the business, and they both fire on all cylinders here. The action and plot is fun (if not particularly smart), and there are plenty of highlights throughout the film. The only criticism I really have is that Travolta and Cage eclipse anyone else who dares to appear on screen, so the accessory cast is mostly just there to fill in empty space. That said: who cares? People went to this movie to see Cage and Travolta try to out-act each other, and that is exactly what is delivered with Face/Off.

If you haven’t seen Face/Off, this is absolutely an essential of the action genre. I feel like this should go on a high shelf of honor next to Tango & Cash as one of the most ridiculously fun, silly action movies of all time. If my word isn’t good enough for you, check out The Nostalgia Critic, How Did This Get Made?, and Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who all have plenty to say about the film.

Swordfish

Clerk’s Pick

Clerk:
Max, Video Central (Columbus, OH)

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Movie:
Swordfish
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Pitch:
“Believe it or not, it isn’t because Halle Berry  is topless in it. I really like John Travolta’s speeches about movies (and how those sequences are shot). The movie also basically gives away the ending early on, but in a way that you don’t realize it, and it still comes off as a twist. I think it is a more clever movie than it gets credit for, and is worth revisiting.”

Background:

Swordfish tells the story of the planning and execution of an elaborate and technologically advanced heist. The protagonist is a notorious hacker, who has just served a 2-year prison sentence. He is roped into the heist by a mysterious mastermind to handle the programming behind the scenes, but is never given the whole story of what the heist will entail. Of course, the plot features a number of twists and misdirections, and a hearty quantity of explosions.

Swordfish was written and produced by Skip Woods, who has also provided screenplays for Hitman, Sabotage, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, A Good Day to Die Hard, and The A-Team. The director for Swordfish was Dominic Sena, who was also behind such movies as Gone in 60 Seconds, Season of the Witch, and Kalifornia. Likewise, Swordfish was edited by Stephen Rivkin, who has also cut films like Stealth, Avatar, Blackhat, and My Cousin Vinny.

Swordfish required a massive visual effects team due to the complicated nature of a number of the sequences. The team included common elements with films like Avatar, Jingle All The Way, Tank Girl, The Italian Job, Speed, The Abyss, Fight Club, Monkeybone, Minority Report, Judge Dredd, Deep Blue Sea, Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending, and Mystery Men, among others.

The music on Swordfish was provided by Paul Oakenfold, an acclaimed DJ who has had remixes featured in movies like The Matrix Reloaded, Collateral, and Shoot ‘Em Up, and Christopher Young, who has composed scores for films like Sinister, Drag Me To Hell, Spider-Man 3, The Core, and Rounders.

The cinematographer for Swordfish was Paul Cameron, who also shot movies like Deja Vu, Man on Fire, Collateral, and the remake of Total Recall.

The cast of Swordfish is pretty deep, and includes the likes of Hugh Jackman (The Prestige, X-Men, Van Helsing), John Travolta (Battlefield: Earth, Face/Off, The Punisher), Halle Berry (Catwoman), Vinnie Jones (The Midnight Meat Train), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 2), Sam Shepard (Stealth, The Right Stuff), and Zach Grenier (Fight Club, Mother Night, Deadwood).

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Swordfish was nominated for a Golden Raspberry award, which are dishonors given out for the judged worst films and performances of the year. Specifically, John Travolta received a nomination for Worst Actor for his work on Swordfish and Domestic Disturbance, but lost out to Tom Green for Freddy Got Fingered.

The reception to Swordfish has been mixed over the years. Rotten Tomatoes, which primarily tracks contemporaneous reviews of movies from critics, has it at 26% aggregate score.  However, IMDb, which tracks reviews continuously from its user base, has it at a significantly higher 6.5 rating.

The budget for Swordfish was estimated to be just north of $100 million. It managed to make a profit on that with a worldwide theatrical gross of just over $147 million, though expectations for it were clearly higher. For comparison’s sake, The Matrix managed to make well over $400 million worldwide on a smaller budget.

Halle Berry reportedly received an extra $500,000 on top of her salary for the movie to do her topless scene, which she apparently agreed to in order to overcome her fear of on-screen nudity.

The opening explosion sequence was, at the time, one of the most complicated visual effects shots in Warner Brothers history. It utilized much of the effects technology that was popularized in The Matrix two years earlier, and required the use of 135 cameras.

Swordfish released just months before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and is oddly prescient about some of the issues that would follow the event. Notably, Hugh Jackman’s character is said to have hacked into U.S. government files to sabotage a mass program of illegal surveillance of citizens, a program that actually began occurring after 9/11, and was exposed by Edward Snowden.

Review:

First off, Swordfish features too much color filtering, to the point of being obnoxious. That might not have been too distracting at the time, but after years of CSI television shows beating that particular dead horse, it is impossible not to notice. As with many other aspects of the movie, I’m sure this was done based on the influence of The Matrix, which I’ll get to more in a bit.

This might be a bit of a surprise, but I don’t hate John Travolta in this. I always enjoy his hammy acting, particularly in things like The Punisher and Face/Off. However, the writing for his character is incredibly pretentious and sleazy, which I am sure was at least partially intentional. Regardless, he is really easy to hate, but whether that is a positive or a negative is up to the viewer.

In general, the writing for the movie feels edgy for the sake of being edgy, and gives off a tone of pretending to be cooler than it actually is (not unlike Hackers, a similarly computer-themed flick). Everything about the dialogue just comes off as “trying too hard,” which isn’t a vibe you want your movie to give off.

Just about everything about Swordfish‘s aesthetic and style feels intentionally derivative of The Matrix. I mentioned the use of color already, but the music, costumes, effects, and the prominence of computers/hacking in the story-line all combine to make something that looks and feels a little too familiar. This isn’t necessarily objectively bad, and isn’t as noticeable now unless you look into the context of the film, but at the time, all of these similarities would have stood out in bold to both critics and audiences.

Recommendation:

I have mixed feelings about Swordfish. At times, it is genuinely entertaining and interesting, but at others it is unbearably pretentious and hokey. The excessive vigilante patriotism also came off as weird to me, and just doesn’t line up with the hedonistic personality that Travolta’s character was laid out to have throughout the movie. This trait was apparently emphasized more in rewrites on the movie, which resulted in a handful of alternate endings.

If you like heist movies and can handle sitting through the tech nonsense of Hackers, The Net, and The Matrix sequels, then Swordfish is worth sitting through for the occasional good parts. I still think it is more bad than good, but there is definitely entertainment value to it on the whole.

I particularly recommend checking out the We Hate Movies podcast episode on the film for a more detailed walk-through of the movie, and a few other perspectives on the film as a whole.

IMDb Bottom 100: Battlefield Earth

Battlefield Earth

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Ok, look. Everyone has reviewed “Battlefield Earth”. There is literally no ground left to tread, and no stone left to turn over. Here are just a handful of existing “Battlefield Earth” reviews that are totally worth your time to check out:

If that’s not enough for you, go give a listen to the eviscerating episode of “How Did This Get Made?” on the movie.

Now that you have watched and listened to all of those reviews, you are at the point where I was when I started watching this movie for the first time. I already knew about the hammy acting, the bad effects, the baffling editing, the behind-the-scenes troubles, the Razzies, and the whole cavalcade of incompetencies and bizarrities surrounding the movie. And, really, there isn’t anything else to say. Here is the opening to Roger Ebert’s half-star review, who sums it all up as well as anyone could:

“Battlefield Earth” is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way. The visuals are grubby and drab. The characters are unkempt and have rotten teeth. Breathing tubes hang from their noses like ropes of snot. The soundtrack sounds like the boom mike is being slammed against the inside of a 55-gallon drum.

I will note something about “Battlefield Earth”: it is a near-perfect example of a Hollywood bad movie. I’ve covered a lot of movies in the IMDb Bottom 100, but most of them have been foreign or independent productions. However, there is nothing quite like an all-star failure that had high expectations. I think the only other IMDb Bottom 100 flicks that had a comparable fall are “Gigli” and “Foodfight”, and neither of them were quite as catastrophic or public as “Battlefield Earth”.

This movie was supposed to be *big*. There was tons of money behind it, lots of marketing,  a line of toys, blueprints for sequels, and everything you would expect from a top-tier box office performer. The colossal failure of this movie, particularly in the wake of successful sci-fi flicks like “The Matrix”, was a real shock.

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As you would expect, the behind-the-scenes hubris is palpable when you watch this movie. The overconfidence exudes from every frame, which is part of what makes the failure of this film so damn satisfying in comparison to its low-budget cohorts in the IMDb Bottom 100. Here is a relevant quote from Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax member Kevin Murphy, as recorded in “Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies” by Michael Adams:

“When you see a film like Warren Beatty’s “Town & Country”, you can see all of the ego in the world on the screen…Schadenfreude is a classic human emotion. We have a passion for seeing people we hold up as models of success fall down. That goes back to Aristophanes. All the badness just comes off the screen – incompetently made and morally bankrupt, a nice combination.”

Murphy absolutely nails a major part of why it is so much fun to watch a big-budget bad movie. These flicks aren’t necessarily the worst things out there, but they very much failed to meet blockbuster expectations. Movies like “Batman & Robin” and “Spider-Man 3” immediately come to mind in this category: they are nowhere near as incompetent as “Oasis of the Zombies” or “Monster A Go Go”, but they are way more entertaining failures to watch through due to that sweet, sweet schadenfreude.

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Every joke about the ridiculous makeup and costuming has already been made. I guarantee it.

I absolutely recommend “Battlefield Earth” to any bad movie fans. Despite some issues with pacing, the things that are bad about this movie add to the unintentional entertainment value. Objectively, it isn’t realistically bad enough to make an honest Bottom 100 ranking, but I have no issue with it being in the IMDb Bottom 100: there is just to much to hate and enjoy about this movie that it fits right in down there.