I don’t mean a movie that’s intentionally bad. That doesn’t count, in my book. It also doesn’t count if the movie isn’t fully funded. I mean, there are a ton of B-movies out there that were never supposed to be very good to begin with. Anything in the MST3K range of movies, for example. You can’t really hold it against them. They are what they are.
No, I mean a Hollywood movie that was supposed to be all that and a bag of. Ideally, it’s a movie you paid money to see. In theaters would be the best, to prove this was something you were looking forward to. You expected it to be good, and then it was anything but. To me, waiting to catch a movie on Netflix or TV already implies a certain lack of confidence in that film.
So when I think back over all the movies I’ve watched over the years, one film really rises to the top (or is it “sinks to the bottom”). Battlefield Earth, starring John Travolta. It was a movie that I saw the week of release. I was a big fan of the book, and so I was excited to see what was done with the film. It had big name movies stars. A budget of $73 million. It was being hyped as a labor of love by Travolta, who wanted to do his religion proud and make a great adaptation of an L. Ron Hubbard book.
And it was so incredibly awful from start to finish.
It was like they’d taken the novel and passed it through a paper shredder, then glued the confetti together into something kind of resembling a film. It was bad at every level. Plot. Writing. Acting. Camera work. I wasn’t just critical of it as a fan of the novel. I was critical of it as a fan of decent storytelling.
It’s because of Battlefield Earth that I was so wary of Fellowship of the Ring. People look back on Jackson’s awesome trilogy now, but I remember sitting in the theater for that movie opening night, simply wishing as hard as I could that the movie wouldn’t be awful. And the PTSD of Battlefield Earth was strong back then.
I’ve never watched the movie again. I have no desire to. I don’t recommend anyone else ever watch it. Those 118 minutes of my life are gone, permanently. I would have been better served shoving jalapeños in my eyes for that time, instead. I honestly don’t think anyone out there can possibly have a worse movie to nominate than Battlefield Earth. It remains the measuring stick I use to compare all other bad movies. Yes, I realize IMDB only has it as the 16th worst movie ever, but only Disaster Movie and Epic Movie have as many votes (in the 80,000 range). Most of the others have like 24,000. And Disaster Movie and Epic Movie are intentionally bad, so they don’t count.
Battlefield Earth was supposed to be the real deal. And it was anything but.
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