Review :: Battleship

April 17th 2012

Battleship is based on a board game, and stars Rihanna. Not only that, it spends way too much time on a prominent subplot where the characters are played by an annoying fat guy without any legs and a Victoria’s Secret model named Brooklyn, pretty much guaranteeing that anyone defending the film is going to have to rely heavily on the words ‘in spite of’. Fortunately, I will not be defending it.

Battleship is the board game where you position pegs on a graph, and then make random guesses at where your opponent has placed their pegs. First person to guess all of the other persons pegs wins. Seeing as I have afternoon naps that would make for a more cinematic experience than the board game Battleship, it’s a good thing the filmmakers have not made a faithful adaptation. Instead they have incorporated alien’s clearly hoping to cover territory missed by recent films like Green Lantern, Cowboys Vs Aliens, Apollo 18, District 9, Super 8, Indiana Jones 4, The Thing Prequel, Monsters, Skyline, Battle: Los Angeles, Paul, The Darkest Hour, and the Transformersers. Actually, that’s not true. They want to cover a lot of the same territory as the Transformerses. Particularly in the area of sound effects. Most of the films dramatic tension revolves around whether our hero, Blandy McCardboard* (played by Taylor Kitsh**), will shrug off his youthful immaturity, accept responsibility for the lives of his men and realise his huge potential. You will have to watch the movie to find out if he does. I don’t want to give it away. Also Liam Neeson is in it for a bit, but then he is in most movies.

I’m sorry for being extra snarky today. I sat down with this one honestly wanting to enjoy it. There is no reason this had to be bad. The board games stuff is just Hollywood bullshit***, but you could make a really good movie about Aliens Versus Battleships. Why not? I saw a really good movie based on 21 Jump Street just the other week. When it’s done well I love this sort of stuff, but Battleship was a big sack of warm crap. What we have here is a corporately mandated, machine written screenplay, and direction by numbers blatantly ripping off movies like Top Gun (fighter jet porn!), The Right Stuff (slow motion military strut!), Titanic (overhead shot of an inverted sinking ship), and the complete works of Michael Bay. The film has no rhythm, hurtling from one scene of mass destruction to the next, our boring characters forever screaming and running from green screen explosions and computer generated robot lizard men from outer space. Speaking of which, the aliens are poorly designed (completely ripping off Halo) and thought out, complete with a fatal flaw in the head scratching tradition of Signs and War of the Worlds. As in all screenplays conceived in boardrooms and built around ripping off other movies, the plot mechanics are all on the surface. Problems (the radio’s don’t work!) only last as long as they are needed (I have a machine that will make the radio work!). This creates headache inducing logical flaws that I had plenty of time to ponder while staring at the screen, only vaguely interested. How come the ships can fly through space, but are stuck in the water? Why do the aliens only attack machines but not people? Why destroy a highway, what did that achieve?

Now, I will say this. Three quarters of this movie are just your usual noisy boring crap. I took my brother and he fell asleep about halfway through (not me though, I am a professional). However just when you are craving the credits, ready to remember Battleship as that crap movie where Rihanna had a punch up with a robot lizard man from outer space, Battleship makes an extraordinary reach for epic badness. With one glorious montage set to ACDC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ it guaranteed its place in my own personal hall of movie shame. I can’t in good conscience give it away, but the film sets up its final act with a plot development that even I, as a connoisseur of this sort of thing, couldn’t quite believe I was watching. One day, many years from now, this will play on some free to air digital satellite channel, and I encourage you to wait for the montage. It really is something.

*Not actual character name.

**Actual actor name

*** Ridley Scott was once seriously going to make a movie version of Monopoly. True story.



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