Synopsis: A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.
Stars: Taylor Kitsch , Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson
Director: Peter Berg
Running Length: 131 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: Stakebed Driver ~ Donald Bradley
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: When the Hasbro logo appears at the beginning of this big screen adaptation of their popular board game, you have to wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. Can a film really be tailored around a game that was more about pure luck in strategy than having any semblance of plot? Yes, actually it can. Now that’s not to say it’s a good movie but I have to give some credit to the screenwriters for what they’ve created: a big, dumb, bloated summer actioner that does have some cheer worthy moments.
In these kinds of action films the effects are the stars so it’s a mystery why it takes nearly 45 minutes for anything major to happen, effects-wise. Following the Armageddon model, the first part of the film is devoted to ‘character’ development as we are introduced to the bland model-ish actors that will face the computer generated aliens head-on. Right from the beginning there is trouble with a prologue that is nearly unwatchable in its stupididity and execution. We’re introduced to Alex Hopper (Kitsch who was also the star of the underappreciated March bomb John Carter) who is by all accounts a loser…of course he has a straight-arrow high-ranking military brother and it’s not hard to see where this brotherly rivalry will lead us. Long prologue short, Hopper is arrested for stealing a chicken burrito (don’t ask) and chooses the military instead of jail. Fast forward some time and Hopper is still a brazen fool that somehow has managed to obtain some rank in the service. He’s romancing the admiral’s daughter (of course) and is just about to ask for Samantha’s hand in marriage when space aliens show up to ruin the big event. At that point all character information goes out the window and the CGI effects take over.
As this is a true action epic, subplots abound are there are a few doozies here with one involving a personal training session that turns into a fight for survival (again, don’t ask). Credit should be given to the filmmakers for employing numerous active military personnel for roles but that gratitude is tempered with the unfortunate fact that 100% of these service men and women couldn’t act their way out of a knapsack.
The effects are mostly impressive even though the aliens themselves have a certain non-threatening nature about them. Yes, they have big lasers that vaporize and cause a fair amount of havoc but they mostly just sit in the water to do their business. Not really the immediate threats that would create nail-biting situations.
One of the best action sequences by far is when an actual game of Battleship is played. Director Berg crafts this scene in a creative and wink-wink-nudge-nudge way that creates a nice sense of nostalgia in the middle of a movie that already feels overly familiar. Sadly, there’s a lot more movie to go after that though the film rallies near the end with a finale that is exciting if completely improbable.
Kitsch spoils some of the good will he created in John Carter with a performance devoid of any skill…his character is so unlikable from the outset that when he does do something heroic he’s made it hard to root for him. Decker is totally forgettable as the Kitsch’s main squeeze as is Skarsgård as his brother. Neeson needs to learn to say no to projects and producers need to learn to say no to Rihanna. What the singer is doing in this movie is probably the biggest mystery – she’s the least talented of the bunch and consistently out acted by non-professionals. I’d like to tell her to keep her day job but her music has been so lousy lately that I think she should just go away all together.
Chances are if you had any interest in seeing Battleship you’ve already made the trek to the theater and seen its big explosions and small plot. If you’ve yet to get sunk by this Battleship I’d suggest locating the actual board game and playing that instead. Unlike the movie, the game has definite replay value.