Movie trailers are supposed to make people WANT to see a film.
There are people who actually put trailers together for a living. Trailer Guys are tasked with taking some of the best clips from an upcoming film and putting them together in a 2-minute long package that intices people. Makes them think, “MAN! I can’t wait for that particular film to be released, because judging by the trailer, it is everything I look for in entertainment!”
You have to think it’s a pretty sweet job overall. But sometimes, movies come along that make these people hate their jobs. These movies are so bad, that not even the trailer can be redeemed. And keep in mind, a trailer has the ability to take a two hour long movie and cut it down to barely anything. They can take out all the bad parts.
But in some cases, such as with Battlefield Earth, there just aren’t any GOOD parts.
In the year 2000, a bunch of people who somehow weren’t convinced that L. Ron Hubbard was completely loony tried to turn his famous science fiction book Battlefield Earth into a movie. Naturally, they got his highest profile loony underling, John Travolta, to star in the film.
I’m pretty sure part of the incentive for Travolta was that if he starred in the film, he would level up in Scientology, or however it works (it’s a secret, guys!)
Try, if you can, to understand this concept: Travolta plays a ten foot tall, dreadlocked alien who rules over the enslaved human race. That’s right: the alien race just looks like overgrown Rastafarians.
These aliens have enslaved humanity for 1000 years, milking Earth dry of all minerals. Now, with Earth about to be barren, the aliens are nearly finished with humans, so they plan on wiping them out afterwards. Naturally, this knowledge makes the humans mad,so they decide to fight back.
That’s right. It took them 1000 years to decide to fight back and continue living. You know, on an Earth with no more resources.
So yeah, when you look at just the raw plot for what it is, it’s hard to imagine that the movie could be good. I mean, look at that IMDB rating.
But maybe the trailer is convincing. Right?….right?
0:07-0:15 – Okay, so the movie is Battlefield Earth, not Battlefield Jupiter or anything. Just feel like we need to establish that fact with the first 8 seconds of the trailer.
You can only imagine that the Trailer Guys saw what they had to work with and said, “Oh geez, can we maybe make the trailer just two minutes of Earth footage?….please?”
0:16-0:18 – Nothing sets an intense mood more than a nondescript “Guy in an alleyway” scene. And is it night or day? Because it SEEMS to be night, but then in the next shot, it’s suddenly day.
That’s right, we’re 18 seconds in and the Trailer Guys have given up.
0:19-0:22 – Oh man. So much here. Some highlights:
- Okay, so clearly it’s day now, so this dude had been running for a WHILE.
- That ship? Looks like it was taken STRAIGHT from a mid-90’s computer game.
- The best option for getting out of that shot was to DRAMATICALLY ZOOM AND TURN EVERYTHING RED. The Trailer Guys aren’t just giving up. They’re realizing they won’t survive this disaster, and they’re trying to let us know.
0:23-0:25 – SOAK. THIS. IN. Never forget this. At this point, Trailer Guys are starting to just drop left and right. There’s no way that this can get any worse. We lasted all of 25 seconds, and with one overdone Travolta laugh, life has lost all meaning.
0:26-0:28 – Thankfully, one Trailer Guy, right as his soul left him, cut away from the laugh for one second to save us. Typically, I would say a one second shot of a ship flying in the distance followed by an explosion title sequence (of ONE name. Just one) would be completely useless. But I’m not dumb. I know that in this instance, it saved our lives.
0:29-0:40 – Here, we are given a respite from the suck with a quick, chaotic montage and what appears to be back-story. I’m not sure why Alien Travolta needs to give back-story to some slave. But I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t doubt L. Ron Hubbard.
Speaking of the slave, you realize the only way you can tell he’s a human and not an alien is because he’s in shackles, right? The aliens don’t look any different than people. It’s about an alien invasion, right? They couldn’t at least make the aliens in the film look like they can from somewhere other than Giant Jamaica? TRAVOLTA IS THE ALIEN, GUYS. TRAVOLTA.
0:46-0:52 – Okay, any clue what is happening here? They show a guy (alien) with a pistol….then EVERYTHING IS EXPLODING?
0:57 – Wait, the aliens wear noseplugs? What, are they in swim class?
1:00-1:02 – Now the movie is needlessly in green. At least half the Trailer Guys are down at this point, and the other half is trying to make sure their sacrifice wasn’t in vain.
1:03 – Nevermind. Not worth it. Sacrifice TOTALLY in vain. Abandon ship, Trailer Guys! Just stop everything and get out while you can!
1:04-1:07 – REALLY. You’ve suddenly figured out that the alien overlords don’t care for you much? So, for the past 1000 years, humanity has just expected the aliens to go, “Well, this planet is dry. Thanks guys, here’s a millenia of back pay!”
1:11 – Just pause it here. Look, I don’t mean to be That Guy or anything….but where did Harrier jets come from? Humanity has just been sitting around for 1000 years with some fully functioning jets? Do they even remember how to fly them?
Just barely over a minute in, and 3/4 of the Trailer Guys are down. The rest are just hacking and coughing and continuing to work because they’ve forgotten how to do anything else.
1:13 – This is the SECOND time Travolta’s name has been shown. Seriously. They do NOT want you to forget that he was a part of this. The Trailer Guys strike back. It’s like they’re saying “Look! He’s a Scientologist! He actually BELIEVES that the guy who wrote this crap wasn’t insane! WE WON’T LET YOU GET AWAY WITH THIS, TRAVOLTAAAAAAAA!”
And of course we get treated to a few shots of Alien Travolta right afterwards. This actually physically hurts me.
1:18 – Once again, not to be That Guy, but when a movie’s headliners go from Travolta to Barry Pepper, maybe you shouldn’t have high expectations.
Barry Pepper. It’s like the 95-96 Bulls putting their faith in MJ and Bill Wennington. Except that analogy means Travolta is MJ, so that’s just unfair.
1:24 – Oh, Forest. I am so sorry to have to bring this movie up. You had finally gotten past it with Last King of Scotland and….Phonebooth….and Repo….Men….okay, sorry Forest. You brought this upon yourself.
1:25-1:27 – Okay, so I’ve avoided the issue of the awful music until now. But when they ACTUALLY jump cut between three different scenes based around an electronic drum fill? I can’t ignore it any longer. Trent Reznor is listening to this and saying, “Oh, no guys. No.”
The last two remaining Trailer Guys are just weeping openly at this point. They’re putting film together and just letting the tears fall.
1:32-1:33 – Wait, WHAT? I had to rewind this like twenty times. SURELY this is a joke. I mean, it CLAIMS to be the official trailer. But there’s no way this part is real. No way.
1:40 – The movie title explodes as the sole living Trailer Guy screams “LOOK! IT BLEW UP, BECAUSE THE MOVIE WILL BOMB! DO YOU GET IT? DO YOU? AAAAHAHAHAHAH WHYYYYYY” and collapses in a heap.
1:41-1:45 – “We took this one chance….AND FART!” I’m inspired.
1:47-1:50 – NO! WE HAD ALMOST MADE IT! But the Travolta Laugh found us again! WHY L. RON. WHY.
Well, I wish I could say this was worth it. But it just wasn’t.
I’m sorry, guys. I’m sorry for everything.
5 thoughts on “Video Breakdown: Battlefield Earth Trailer”
One thing that’s fun to do is compare Travolta’s laughter at 0:22 and 1:48. You can clearly assume that the director (Ang Lee, right?) asked for “skin-grating cackling” in the first one, and “let’s just make people never want to see this” in the second one.
I know, right? It’s almost as if Ang Lee gave up as well.
My theory is that Travolta was out of control during filming, so they just eventually stopped caring and let him do whatever he wanted. That’s why they put his name in there twice, to try and pass off all the blame on him.
I feel very sad right now.
I AM IN SO MUCH PAIN RIGHT NOW. That’s awful. That’s awfully awful. That’s terribly awfully horrifically awful. I love movies that are so bad they’re good — for instance, this is one of the best worst movies you’ll ever see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frogs_(film) — but Battlefield Earth somehow manages to cross the line from so bad it’s good to so bad it’s fatal.
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