I saw this movie a while back. I don't remember how it starts, but from where I remember watching it, it may have not been too far from the start.

Apparently, Earth has been conquered by some alien empire or something and humanity are basically cavemen being used as slaves. From what I remember, the main antagonist alien is seen taking one of the slaves to a room where a machine is used on him to make him smart; this is apparently a big no-no so the main antagonist and his sidekick have to keep it quiet. The idea was that by making one of the slaves smart, it could increase the work output of the others. Apparently the antagonist is using the slaves on Earth to gather gold bullion which is apparently still very valuable to the aliens but he's doing it illegally (not the slave labor; that's apparently ok).

The protagonist who had the machine used on him becomes the intermediary between the slaves and the aliens and begins teaching the other slaves. I remember him teaching them mathematics and I remember him saying that it was universally accepted (I think he may have been referring to algebra or trigonometry). At some point he becomes aware that they are slaves and organizes a plan to free not only his fellow slaves but the Earth.

Some escape and find an old museum which has old flight simulators, and shows that humanity wasn't always a slave race and that it may have been modern times in which Earth was invaded (i.e. no lasers or starships). I think they also find Fort Knox as there is a huge collection of gold bricks and weapons.

The protagonist comes up with a plan to destroy some sort of teleporter the aliens use to transport stuff to and from Earth, however that alone wont be enough as they could fight back, which will be bad for humanity, which is still undeveloped. So the plan also includes using the teleporter before destroying it to to transport and detonate a nuclear warhead on the alien home world which apparently cripples any attempt to immediately send a fleet but also as a show of strength.

After executing their plan, the main antagonist is captured by the humans and as an insult is locked in a cage surrounded by the gold he sought. If I recall correctly the place is set to detonate as to destroy the precocious gold and that will be used against the aliens should they mobilize a fleet in the future (i.e. attack us and we destroy Earth's supply of gold).

The antagonist's side kick for some reason I remember as a big black man from whom the antagonist had removed his hand at some point and also apparently the antagonist was cruel to him. After the antagonist is locked up, he is trying to appeal to his sidekick's loyalty, however the sidekick takes the humans' side, I'm also getting an image that apart from treating him kindly the sidekick's missing hand was restored.

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    I think you can't remember the name of the movie because your subconscious suppressed it, in case your conscious thought it was ever a good idea to re-watch. Mar 2, 2015 at 1:54
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    I was so disappointed when I read the answers here. I was reading the description thinking "I dunno, but it sounds awesome!". I had a vision in my head of some unknown to me classic like Logan's Run, maybe even better! Then I got to the 3%, terrible truth. :-/
    – user42493
    Mar 2, 2015 at 15:44
  • Hi David, this should be posted as a comment, not an answer.
    – SaturnsEye
    Mar 2, 2015 at 17:25
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    @David I liked the book. I felt the ending 1/3 was unnecessary but the plot action was pretty good up to that point. I can think of better books to read for intellectual reasons but for action and David vs. Goliath type story telling, it's pretty good. Go ahead and read it. Just avoid the movie!
    – Jim2B
    Mar 29, 2015 at 14:51
  • see also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/72899/… for post about book version (confirmed by OP comment)
    – Otis
    Oct 3, 2015 at 3:05

2 Answers 2


This is Battlefield Earth, book by L. Ron Hubbard.

The remnants of humanity are either enslaved by the Psychlos and used for manual labor or survive in primitive tribes living in remote areas outside Psychlo control. Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, a member of one such tribe, leaves his home in the Rocky Mountains on a journey of exploration. He joins forces with Carlo, a hunter, but both men are captured by a Psychlo raiding party and transported to a slave camp at the Psychlos' main base on Earth, a giant dome built over the ruins of Denver, Colorado.


Terrible movie, better book.

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    "Terrible" is an understatement. 3% on Rotten Tomatoes, has the 10th all-time lowest MRQE rating, broke the record for # of Razzies, put Franchise Pictures out of business, and according to Ebert, "for decades to come will be the punch line of jokes about bad movies". Mar 2, 2015 at 15:27
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    It is absolutely amazing to me how badly Hollywood can mangle good books. Starship Troopers was an excellent book but bad movie. This was a good book (esp if you leave off the last 1/3) but a terrible movie. It is rare for Hollywood to improve a story.
    – Jim2B
    Mar 2, 2015 at 15:41
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    @Jim2B I still maintain that Starship Troopers was so bad, that it was good. Much like Doom.
    – BlueBuddy
    Mar 2, 2015 at 18:00
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    I agree that the action is pretty good - if you want a brainless action movie. But Verhoeven completely misses the purpose of the book. The action/war was the eye candy to attract young teenage boys and keep them interested. The meat of the book was about the responsibilities of citizens to the state, state to the citizen, and our place in the Universe. The book even states that Heinlein's society might be wrong, it just works better than what came before. This went "vvvt" right over Verhoeven's head with no hint of it in the movie.
    – Jim2B
    Mar 2, 2015 at 18:58
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    @Jim2B Verhoeven didn't miss anything - he made it even more obvious. Why do you think all the newsflashes look like Nazi propaganda, and the "hero" officers are even dressed in Nazi uniforms, and the death toll amongst the ground troops is so extreme, and the human response to a scared Bug is to torture it? Heinlein was in favour of that kind of society (cf. Laz Long, Number of the Beast, and the rest). Verhoeven was not in favour, and made it explicitly clear that Heinlein's idea for this society is thoroughly wrong.
    – Graham
    Jan 30, 2019 at 17:09

Seems you are talking about Battlefield Earth. It was based on a book written by L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology). It starred John Travolta as the "antagonist" named Terl and Forrest Whitaker as his "sidekick" named Ker. The aliens are a race called Psychlos. They are on earth for one thing, that is to strip the planet bare of its natural resources. The hero of the story was named Johnny Goodboy Tyler. He is taken by the antagonist and used for slave labor. Johnny is chosen to receive "education" through the Psychlo learning machine and through this gains enough knowledge to capture Terl, destroy the Psychlo home planet, and take back Earth for the humans.

I have to say, the movie was a huge disappointment for me after having read the book a couple of times. The book could have easily been broke into two parts, with a lot more detail in the movie.

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