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Headscratchers / Battlefield Earth

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The Film

  • The utterly bizarre idea that the Psychlos hold of the "man-animals" being used as slave labor is laughable to them, when there are remnants of human civilization absolutely everywhere that people obviously built. Furthermore, if the Psychlos think humans are completely useless (as most of them do), then why keep them alive when they obviously have no qualms about killing them?
    • Well, they use them as pack animals, at least. We see man-animals lugging crates of ore earlier in the movie.
    • And why, if they were considered too stupid to be able to mine gold, were they shown in one scene working at a forge, which requires considerably more skill and training than mining?
      • The Rifftrax of the movie bring this up.
    Mike: Wait, so these guys are too stupid to wipe themselves, and yet they run a smelting operation?
    Bill: They don't run it well.
    • Hey, apparently humans are capable of running a full, high-capacity and perfect smelting operation in the middle of fucking nowhere. And Terl just accepts it.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Terl actually is clever enough to suspect something is amiss, and so moves up the deadline for the mining operation. He even lampshades this when inspecting the gold.
    • The book is actually better about this. The Psychlos do their own mining and basically ignore the few remaining humans.
  • If the Psychlos were able to wipe out humanity's entire military without a problem, why in the hell would they not be able to take out a force of god damned cavemen that is less than one millionth of the combined military forces of Earth, when the offensive and defensive capabilities of the Psychlos have continued to advance over the thousand year interim? That's not even getting into the fact that the Harrier Jets, their fuel, their missiles, and their onboard computer systems still magically work after sitting around for over a millennium.
    • An invasion force is, by its nature, more powerful than a force that is occupying a pacifed area. That's the only possible logical explanation as to how the man-animals pulled that off. As for the equpiment they used, there's just no excuse.
    • The movie kinda-sorta offers an explanation that works if you don't think about it too hard. The Psychlos only have a token force on the planet, and their strategy is to teleport drones equipped with lethal gas to planets that manage to overrun the small force on the planet. Johnny was able to circumvent that by making sure the Psychlos never got the chance to send any drones.
    • But the Psychlos already sent the gas drones to conquer the planet in the first place. I guess they just sent them back, instead of keeping them around. Perhaps the Corporation is really cheap (seems like it) and only has so many gas drones to go around, and keeps them on reserve or doles them out to other operations as needed. No point in paying for gas drones to just sit around and collect dust just in case of an impossible man-animal rebellion when you could be reusing them somewhere else.
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    • What I can't explain away is why there were any Earth defense hardware left — especially since we see that nukes would be more than devastating. And fighter pilots wear air masks, in pressurized cockpits, so they wouldn't be so vulnerable to the gas drones. We see that jet-fired guided missiles are more than capable of taking out Psychlo dropships, so... what the hell happened there?
    • Let's also not forget that Earth may be a very small, "backwater" posting for the Psychlo force. Terl even makes it clear that he wants to get off of it. It seems quite plausible that Earth is where the most incompetent members of the Psychlo force are sent, which would also support the reason why all of the ones encountered on Earth are dumber than a bag of hammers.
  • If they wanted gold, why the hell did they come to Earth, where it's so rare? It's like going to Mercury because you want to find water.
    • And if you wanted gold, and came to Earth even though it's so rare here, and had the planet for a thousand years, how in the name of Satan did you manage to never find Fort Knox? WE SAW THAT YOU HAVE GOLD DETECTORS, THAT WAS IN THE MOVIE.
      • Especially since the Psychlos were smart enough in the book to loot Fort Knox at the outset while somehow missing an armored car in downtown Denver, the source of the gold Johnnie uses in the book (which is better than the movie in a lot of ways, but still Made Of Suck). The Psychlos (understandably—they are aliens) mistake it for a tank, but strangely enough do not destroy this 'tank' during their initial attack.
      • Only one logical explanation possible, the tank was crippled for the psychlos, they probably know that there is nothing precious inside and maybe carry depleted uranium shell.
      • Worse is that Johnny apparently learns about Fort Knox from the learning beam. The only way I can explain this is that the holographic alien teaching slave, who admits he is probably long-dead, saved this information up just for such an occasion. Only flaw in my explanation is that said alien is referred to as a language slave, not a general purpose instructor.
      • Actually, the book explains that the Psychos did see the armored car carrying the gold, they just thought it was a tank, bombed it, then left it alone in case of radiation.
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    • Did the Psychlos ever mine the asteroid belt for gold? There are multiple asteroids with more gold than has been mined in the entirety of Earth's history. Vastly easier to find and almost effortless to mine.
  • I can accept that a bunch of cavemen would be completely uneducated and their so-called history is full of Future Imperfect, but how far has mankind regressed in the last thousand years that Johnny and the others can't figure out what statues are in the beginning of the movie? Humans have been making carved images for many thousands of years! Whatever this defect is, the learning machine wasn't able to fix it, because even after Johnny starts using it, he doesn't understand that markings on a map (such as borders) don't appear on the land itself.
  • Given that the Psychlo teleporter works by swapping two areas of space and that Terl dies by teleporting himself into what’s purported (at least on this page) to be a sun formed from his dead world, just what in the hell materialized on the Earth-side teleported?
    • A teleport-platform-sized fusion reaction. The entire compound was destroyed and the only people to survive were hiding in lead-lined coffins that had to be sprayed down before the people in them could exit.
  • SF Debris gave a rather convincing theory about the film. About midway through the film, Johnny loses his breathing tube while inside the Psychlo dome. It's likely that everything afterwards is actually a Dying Dream as the last trickles of oxygen reach his brain, effectively eliminating all the stupidity and plot holes in the second half.
    • That does nothing to explain the stupidity and plot holes of the first half, however.
  • The language slave can speak English and teach an English speaker Psychlo via the learning machine. Apparently no Psychlo ever thought to use this on themselves — so that maybe when the slaves are planning a revolt amongst themselves, they might be able to hear it. In one scene Johnny is explaining in detail why he's not going to kill Terl despite having the clear drop on him. Naturally Terl has no idea what Johnny is saying.
    • I always figured the language slave was merely a Translation Convention of the sort where the machine interacts directly with the brain. As for the Psychlos learning English? Pure, unadulterated arrogance at the primitiveness of the humans. Would we bother learning the language of ants or dogs?
      • ...Yeah, we probably would.
      • Indeed, sheer curiosity would make many humans eager to be able to talk with other species if it were possible.
      • Psychlos aren't shown to have much in the way of curiosity. Also, it might be like the line in Men in Black when it's mentioned that human thought is so primitive it's considered an infectious disease.
  • Why is the Psychlos' method of breathing in our atmosphere (implied to be like a Deadly Gas to them) just putting breathing tubes in their noses? I would think if air is that poisonous to them just having it come in contact with their eyes would be harmful.

Behind the scenes

  • So, I've been looking into the development behind this movie, and I have noticed how the executive meddling tab discusses how Franchise Pictures inflated the budget of the film to disguise the fact that they were taking a fraction of the budget as pure profit, and how the Scientology leader David Miscavige influenced most of the choices made by John Travolta during production. Given all this, wouldn't it be unlikely that David Miscavige could just let Franchise Pictures commit fraud of this magnitude without noticing, unless he was either in on the scheme or had masterminded the whole scheme from the beginning?

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