Sci-Fi

Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000

Battlefield Earth A Saga of the Year 3000

There might be worse movies, but there are few worse posters

dir: Roger Christian

2000

Amazing. Brilliant. Incandescent. Visionary.

But enough about me. This film is considered to be one of the worst films ever made, setting a new standard of shiteness for others to emulate or run screaming from. It’s the benchmark and the reference point for every film that has come out since this wretched new millennium began. Too often I’ve read the phrase “Almost as bad as Battlefield Earth”, or “Battlefield Earth - quality” used as the most scathing of insults aimed at nearly every mediocrity with the temerity to be foisted upon the silver or television screen.

I am here not to praise Battlefield Earth, but to bury it, but as well to bury it in its rightful place in the cemetery, the shallow grave, the unvisited plot or more appropriately, the potter’s field that it belongs in. Long after DVDs and stray videotapes of BE, as I shall refer to it henceforth, have biodegraded into lethal toxins in landfills the world over, its legacy will still be trotted out every time someone makes a crappy sci fi movie, and so it warrants scrutiny, analysis and final judgement even now, nearly a decade on.

The truth is, from my point of view, it’s really not one of the worst movies ever made, not even close. I’ve seen at least ten movies made this year (2008) worse than it, and hundreds since it was first birthed into an unfriendly world. The truth, as well, is that had John Travolta not been in it, and had not Scientologist and L. Ron Hubbard fan – apologists for the book not embarrassed themselves in such numbers and so completely trying to defend it, it never would have mattered. The flick would have gone straight to DVD, would have been watched on late night television by bored and half drunk guys hoping to see some skin, and it would have been mostly forgotten by now along the lines of Event Horizon, Supernova and Leprechaun 4: In Space.

As it stands, the extreme notoriety it has garnered ensures that it will eventually be considered a camp classic along the lines of Showgirls, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Animal House and The Passion of the Christ: each being a movie at the absolute top/nadir of their respective fields.

It’s bad, don’t for a second get me wrong, it’s just not the absolute fabric-of-reality tearing monstrosity it’s been painted as. It’s a D-grade movie with a C-grade script and B-movie acting, led by a supposedly A-list cast. Forrest Whittaker is a fucking Oscar winner, for crying out loud. Travolta, long famous for being one of the hammiest hams that are out there, has had the odd moment of credibility as an actor, and as such is one of the most successful crap actors out there.

These guys aren’t total chumps, they’re players. Heavy hitters. Important people.

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A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

I would say this hasn't aged well, but it seems like it
was wrong from the start

dir: The Great Almighty Stanley Kubrick

1971

Kubrick routinely is praised as probably the greatest director who ever deigned to pick up a camera and yell at people in order to get them to do what he wanted. Who am I to shit on the great man’s legacy?

Nobody, that’s who. Sure he’s made a stack of good films, and a few bad ones. I will say though, without fear or favour, that A Clockwork Orange is probably the crappiest of his holy, vaunted oeuvre.

That’s right, I’m saying it’s worse than Eyes Wide Shut.

A bad Kubrick flick is better than most other director’s best flicks, but it’s still a chore to sit through. And I say this as a fan of the man and his directorial vision. I love many of his films. Hell, I’ve even voluntarily sat through Barry Lyndon a few times and roundly enjoyed it. And I’ve probably seen 2001 more times than the average footy player / actor goes through rehab unsuccessfully.

I first saw A Clockwork Orange back in 1992, on the big screen with a girl who I adored. We saw it at an old movie house called the Valhalla, and were expecting some kind of transgressive masterpiece. She was no shrinking violet to be sure, and had previously watched films with me like Betty Blue, The Company of Strangers and, I’m ashamed to admit, Basic Instinct. Truly was she prepared for anything from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the sacred to the profane. Truly must I say that I was more profoundly bored than even she was.

The only positive that I can remember to the whole A Clockwork Orange experience was that sex eventuated out of it more in spite of its effects rather than because of them. And perversely, for years after we frequented a decent nightclub called Clockwork Orange at the Chevron (back in the days before the owners were jailed for cocaine trafficking and the place was turned into yuppie apartments), which was far more enjoyable than anything this flick has to offer.

Fifteen years have elapsed since then, and since I was on a bit of a Kubrick kick over the last few months, I bought a copy of A Clockwork Orange and decided to sit through it in the privacy of my own lounge room, in the comfy chair with my baby daughter asleep on my chest. Goddamn did I envy her sleep whilst the film played. So much more a productive use of time.

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