Release Date: 5/12/00
Cast: John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forrest Whitaker
"Dreadful" is one word for it. This L. Ron Hubbard adaptation is destined to become a classic among the ranks of ultra-bad, super cheezy, sci-fi extravaganzas in the vein of "Independence Day" (1996), "Wing Commander" (1999), "Soldier" (1998), "Starship Troopers" (1997), and "The Postman" (1997). It is BAD. It's the year 3000 A.D. and Earth has been subjugated by an evil alien race known as the Psychlos. Mankind is on the brink of extinction, and the few pockets of human life that still exist lead a tribal and barbaric existence in the wastelands where the Psychlos don't bother them. Johnnie, the "savior of mankind," refuses to sit by idly while he watches everyone around him die, so he journeys inland to search for greener pastures. Unfortunately, he gets captured by the aliens and taken to a labor camp full of other enslaved humans. Johnnie alone has enough courage to stand up to his oppressors, and he also possesses the leadership strength necessary to rally the humans together. A constant thorn in their side, the head Psychlos security officer, Terl (John Travolta), does the unimaginable by teaching Johnnie their language and giving him access to unlimited human and Psychlos knowledge. Just how stupid are these aliens anyway? With his newfound knowledge of language, math, and science, Johnnie starts organizing a rebellion among the prisoners. And just when you think the aliens can't get any stupider, Terl teaches a bunch of the humans how to fly their own ships! Here, why don't you just take my gun and shoot me with it while you're at it... Obviously, the Psychlos seriously underestimate their human opposition, and the renegade prisoners succeed in wiping out the Psychlos menace. ALL of them...
This film is so laughably awful that I considered walking out of the theater on several occasions (which is rare for me). The plot holes are so immense that they make the movie extremely difficult to follow, and the horrible dialog will make you laugh yourself silly (not to mention the odd Ennio Morricone influence...). The first thirty minutes of the film offer some of the worst filmmaking I've seen in years, and the editing is atrocious. However, the film does have some bright spots. John Travolta as Terl is entertaining and amusing. Charismatic pretty-boy Barry Pepper plays Johnnie, who is a dead ringer for Tom Cruise about fifteen years ago. He does a good job with the material and is a very good looking man. Finally, the film gets a chance to redeem itself at the end with a special effects tour de force as the humans fight to reclaim their planet. This barely nudges the movie into the two-star category. No new territory is covered, but it's still pretty exciting and lots of things blow up spectacularly. If you're a fan of bad sci-fi, then I suggest waiting to catch this one on video so you and your friends can sit down together and make fun of it over pizza and beer.