Battleship Review


If nothing else, Battleship is true proof of mankind’s resiliency. This resiliency is shown in the characters who rise up and fight with everything they have against the evil(?) alien invaders. It’s also shown in the viewers who manage to make it through this pathetic excuse for a movie without walking out, throwing things at the screen, vomiting, or some combination of all three.

A public hearing should be held for those involved with this film. The charges: Misuse of company funds, petty theft (of each audience member’s $10), and brain cell genocide. The penalty if found guilty (spoiler alert, they all are): Everyone’s money back, a minimum five-year ban from the movie industry, and a bright red “B” emblazoned on their chests, The Scarlet Letter-style, so no one can ever forget the awfulness that is Battleship.

This movie is embarrassing. The actors aren’t acting. The director isn’t directing. The special effects team is just throwing nonsensical crap at you. The sound mixers and editors are just turning the volume knob up one notch every scene. And the writers—well, they were either doing lines of cocaine all while crafting the screenplay and were so high, they didn’t know what planet they were on, or they were forced, against their will, to make Battleship as corny, yet unfunny, as humanly possible. If it’s the latter: Mission accomplished.

Our main “character” is Alex Hopper (former “it” guy, soon-to-be-unemployed actor Taylor Kitsch). In the film’s brief prologued, six years before the action really starts, Alex—out with his brother, Naval Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard)—tries to impress an attractive woman, Sam (Brooklyn Decker), but ends up stealing a chicken burrito from a convenience store and gets tased by the police. Stone, sick of his brother’s immature behavior, insists he enlists in the navy. And six years later, this dolt is a real life lieutenant.

During a peacetime war games exercise with the Japanese, some large and mysterious objects fall from the sky. Alex and a few of his crew approach the large, foreign ship, but the closer they get, the clearer it is that the ships are hostile and definitely not from this planet.

The first 30 minutes of the film are purely set-up. It’s all stock stuff: A flawed hero, his bombshell girlfriend, and her intimidating father (Liam Neeson, who’s disappointingly in just a few scenes) talk relationships and living up to one’s potential. A friendly soccer game turns two men, who should be friends, into enemies. Then, there’s the first attack, which thrusts an unprepared follower into the role of a leader. That director Peter Berg (who’s not exactly a hack) would think this is compelling stuff is insulting. That this stuff is more compelling than the action scenes that come later is completely inexcusable.

The alien ships come from what’s called a “Goldilocks planet”, a far-away place discovered by a group of scientists that has the potential to sustain life. A signal is sent via satellite to the planet by these scientists, just to see if anything is out there and how they might reciprocate the signal. This is their answer—an invasion and eventual war. The ships are made of material never before seen on Earth, and their weaponry is more advanced than anything the navy is prepared for. It’s a one-sided battle from the start, but of course, we know from dozens of other movies like this, they’ll show some kind of weakness.

Battleship‘s explanation of the weakness, and the eventual way its human characters capitalize on it, is the film’s biggest flaw. Why? Because it offers no explanation whatsoever. Without digging too deeply, these officers’ bright idea to save the world is to fire upon the ship! What flat out didn’t work for the first half of the battle is the ingenious and courageous solution in the battle’s second half. At least this leads to some genuine Battleship-like sequences, which are kind of funny but just as stupid as you would expect them to be.

Taylor Kitsch, fresh of the box-office bomb that was John Carter, is somewhat charming during the film’s quieter scenes but completely wooden while attempting to lead his men. He’s not nearly as wooden as his costars, however. Alexander Skarsgard has no sense of humor whatsoever. Brooklyn Decker looks great but is worthless when it comes to showing any kind of emotion. And Rihanna—well, let’s not even go there.

Some of the film’s worst moments include an actual veteran (Gregory D. Gadson) who lost his legs in real life and works with his physical therapist, Brooklyn Decker’s Sam, to disable the alien’s communication source. There’s also a painfully propagandistic scene with a group of elderly naval vets getting back in the saddle to help kick some ass. “Look at how badass these guys are!” Berg shouts at you with this film. You might as well be given an enlistment form with your ticket stub.

Ultimately, the film fails for a million reasons, but with no meaning behind the central conflict, it didn’t have a chance from the start. You can pack as many glory moments as you want into a film, but if you never explain why two opposing sides are fighting, you’ll never be able to pull it off. That’s Screenwriting 101. Berg and his writers, Erich and Jon Hoeber, apparently cut class a few too many times. Their Battleship is abysmal, easily the worst film so far this year.

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