Battleship Movie Review
The popular Hasbro Milton Bradley board game BATTLESHIP has come to life on the big screen. But this time the opponent is not your friend across the street but rather aliens with TRANSFORMERS like machinery and weapons. On the plus side, while somewhat technically less advanced, the humans are a little more evenly matched than the usual aliens we come across. Using clever guessing tactics (yes, there is actually one battle scene resembling the game) and human spirit, a fleet of naval ships must defeat a squadron of unidentified alien vessels.
You know when you have such high expectations for a film that even if it’s really good, you still feel let down? The same can be said in reverse and that might be the best thing working for BATTLESHIP. I went into my screening expecting the worst and you know what? It wasn’t terrible.
Don’t get me wrong, BATTLESHIP is still bad, but it’s bad in all those patent over-dramatic over-actionified (I think I just invented a word), end of the world type of ways like INDEPENDENCE DAY and ARMEGEDDON. By the way, I liked both of those films when I was in high school but on repeated visits the special effects can’t hide the absurdity and I doubt they would be as successful if they came out today. They still have a special place in my heart, as they were original, inventive and fun for their time in the 90’s. BATTLESHIP is in no way original or inventive but there is a slight joy to be had once you embrace the ridiculousness.
Liam Neeson (THE GREY) along with Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) have some credibility to their names but don’t be fooled, they are barely in the film. The lead in BATTLESHIP is Taylor Kitsch as Lieutenant Alex Hopper – a brass young hot shot whose older brother (Skarsgård) enlists him after Alex continues to screw up his life. Fast forward and Alex is struggling to ask the Admiral (Neeson) for permission to marry his daughter, played by easy on the eyes Brooklyn Decker (JUST GO WITH IT). Unfortunately Alex’s insubordinate actions have caused him to lose respect among his Navy officers. But somehow he has simultaneously advanced to second in command of a Destroyer ship. These inconsistencies are a mockery to our military system promoting rogue behavior over structure, order and discipline. Nonetheless, Alex will have his time to redeem himself, as he, along with his crew including Tadanobu Asano and Rihanna, must strategically navigate the remaining ship against the unknown enemy.
I didn’t watch Friday Night Lights and missed Disney’s colossal flop JOHN CARTER earlier this year so I don’t know much about Taylor Kitsch. But I will say he is likeable and pulls off many of the comedic moments. However, compared to peers like Chris Pine, Channing Tatum and Chris Hemsworth, I personally think Kitsch is still lacking in the charisma and action star category to carry his own film but I’m sure as studios proceed to force the issue he will continue to develop.
There is a certain sentimental factor in having actual veterans in the film running the retired U.S.S. Missouri Battleship. Even with the glaring questing, “why does an old retired Navy ship have live ammunition?” But one could drive themselves crazy asking logical questions in a film like this. Director Peter Berg (HITCHOCK) did a wonderful job pacing the film. While it could have used a few minutes edited off, BATTLESHIP moves at a comfortable pace without over-stimulating that keeps the viewers intrigued enough not to check out like Michael Bay’s recent TRANSFORMERS sequels.
With bad dialogue, a cheesy premise and faint star power, BATTLESHIP is fairly typical as far as overproduced lackluster summer blockbusters go. But this is a classic case where the low expectations made it seem better than it was. At the end of the day, I think for BATTLESHIP, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be” is a pretty glowing review.