It’s no secret that I didn’t like the Star Wars sequels. More specifically The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Those two movies were two of the three worst major studio films I’ve ever seen (The Force Awakens was merely subpar). When I say this a common response is that I must not have seen many movies, which is true. I don’t watch a lot of movies, and when I do I usually try to watch ones I know I’ll like.
So I decided to watch the top 10 movies on IMDb’s lowest rated movies list to see how they compared. But I ran into a problem. I felt I had to exclude Manos: The Hands of Fate (which sounds kind of cool to be honest) and Birdemic: Shock and Terror since they both had extremely low budgets that would prevent even competent filmmakers from making a good film. It’s not really fair to compare them to a movie like The Last Jedi that could spend more than their entire budgets on an animatronic boob monster (which is the name of my new band).
But there were still 8 movies left, so not a big deal. Except a lot of them were comedies, which don’t make great comparisons. Unfunny jokes can absolutely sink a comedy, while the unfunny jokes in The Last Jedi could have been overcome if it wasn’t for the lack of quality writing and poorly choreographed fight scenes.
Ok so now it’s down to 2, but that’s fine. If Rise of Skywalker can’t overcome 2 of the worst movies since the invention of celluloid then it should rightfully be called arguably the worst film ever. But the two remaining movies didn’t work either. One was Code Name: K.O.Z., a Turkish propaganda film that I literally couldn’t find an English copy of. The other was a horror film called House of the Dead based on a video game. But horror, like comedy, doesn’t compare well to sci-fi action movies, so I scratched that too.
With all 10 movies excluded I decided to just look for a single movie that would make a good and fair comparison, and it didn’t take long to find it.
The 16th worst movie according to IMDB, and rightfully so. While watching it I had the same thought as Chris Stuckman, that I just couldn’t believe this movie had actually been made.
Ever heard of Chekhov’s Gun? It says that if you show a gun in the first act, it should be fired in the second act. I don’t know who Chekhov is but he must have really pissed off the writers of Battlefield Earth as they immediately violate this rule not once, but twice. When I say immediately I don’t mean after a little bit. Literally the first minute of the film, with the very first dialogue, is a completely pointless scene where the protagonist finds out his dad died. We never see the dad, and he is never mentioned again, but sure let’s open the movie with it.
Then, moments later, his wife or girlfriend or whatever gives him a necklace thing that she briefly explains was passed down through the generations and brings good luck. But like his dad this necklace is never mentioned again.
But it’s not just the violation of an obscure writing convention that makes it bad, it sucks at every level. The dialogue is impressively terrible, so bad you’d almost have to try to write something that bad. The characters, particularly the aliens, are idiots, which is particularly ironic considering they’re supposed to be an advanced species.
In one sequence the alien leader, who apparently went to the Holdo school of leadership, wanted to figure out what the “man animals” liked to eat. A normal person would just ask, but instead he sent them out to the mountains without food for 3 days and then saw what they ate. Since the first thing they saw were rats, he concluded that humans loved to eat rats.
Then there’s the cardinal sin of sci-fi writing, which is inconsistent rules. When you create a fake universe you have to maintain a level of consistency with the rules if you want the viewer to be able to invest, but here there are no rules. Like the air. Apparently the aliens breathe different air that humans can’t, but this only pops up occasionally. Most of the time the humans are able to walk around and breath with no assistance in the same area the aliens are.
Is it better than The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker?
I only scratched the surface of all the awful things about this film. Battlefield Earth is indeed one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I legitimately had to take breaks throughout the movie as I couldn’t take it in all at once without wanting to jump off a tall building.
But it is better than The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
I gave those movies a 0/10, but Battlefield Earth has a small handful of positive things that boosts it to a 1/10.
While the setup for the rat thing was dumb, the joke itself was actually pretty funny. I legitimately laughed when he first went up to the protagonist and confidently tried to bribe him with a rat.
I was also a bit more invested in the final fight scene than I was for the Star Wars movies, which given how bad it was speaks volumes for how bad they are. Star Wars had every reason to be better given the superior production values, but The Last Jedi constantly shoots itself in the foot by resolving what tension it manages to build in the worst ways possible, while The Rise of Skywalker‘s climax is so nonsensical that it’s hard to know exactly what you’re supposed to be rooting for. Battlefield Earth at the very least lays out the plan and executes it. It may make no sense but at least you know what the goal is.
I also actually liked John Travolta’s character. It’s not a great character, but it had some personality at least and you could understand his motives, something you can’t say for most of the Star Wars sequel protagonists.
While the last two Star Wars sequels were complete unmitigated disasters, Battlefield Earth was a ever-so-slightly mitigated disaster, preventing it from quite joining their exclusive club.