Friday, June 1, 2012


Battleship - *1/2

Directed by: Peter Berg

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Liam Neeson

Review:  It seems like a good idea.  Certainly the words “can’t fail” and “gonna be a hit” are thrown around constantly in developmental meetings.  Take a time honored, much beloved, board game like Battleship, sup it up with nice special effects a more modern story, and rake in the cash.

I would imagine before even a viable screenplay is constructed they already have the locations, the actors, and the special effects company on retainer.  After that they start filming and work out the script kinks on the fly.  I’m not sure if that’s how it actually went, but it sure seems like that’s the case with this movie.

They took what could be a somewhat intriguing idea, “Hollywood-ized” it and gave a solid board game a bad name.  Battleship wasn’t my favorite board game growing up, but it did have its unique traits that made it fun and would possibly lend itself more than other games to a solid movie.  

With Battleship there is an inherent sense of tension that lends itself to movie form.  As players, it’s only metaphorical missiles and torpedoes being sent, but a movie can show the real thing.  By making us care about the characters aboard those ships there could be some real solid filmmaking that could turn this into a legit movie.  Think of ‘Das Boot’ and ‘U-571’ as examples.

Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t think this way and instead decides to do what they always do: take a half-hearted idea, add aliens and crazy CGI, call it a day.  With so much time, money, and effort spent in those areas they neglect the ones that really matter and those which we care about: story and characters.

Hollywood has been in a legitimate rut for a while now.  With home entertainment becoming so viable Hollywood finds itself only wanting to greenlight “sure things” to become films.  The problem is, Hollywood has no concept of what a “sure thing” is.  Movies like ‘Battleship’ and ‘John Carter’ fit the bill, yet never took hold with audiences.  While I enjoyed ‘John Carter,’ ‘Battleship’ has serious flaws.

As a film we are presented with about 20 minutes of backstory/character development of the main cast and are then provided with two more hours in which we are supposed to care about them.  Then they throw in additional characters that we hadn’t met before and send them in to danger as if we’re supposed to be on the edge of our seat to see if they survive.

Beyond all this, we get another generic alien plot in which they come to Earth using only violence and force to take over our planet.  While I understand they may have advanced technology I’ve never understood why a race that seems to be more intelligent would try to attack an entire planet with only enough people they have to send a few ships.  

Even if we sent an entire space stations worth of armed Navy Seals to a new planet with intelligent life, we most certainly wouldn’t be dumb enough to try to attack it and take it over.  I suppose if we were desperate enough maybe, but we’d still be smarter than to attack a planet in this manner whose inhabitants had more than enough means to attack back (bombs, missiles, nukes, etc.).

I’ve never understood why aliens had to be violent.  ‘District 9’ was praised when it came out and was nominated for best picture, not because of its action scenes, but because it took a new twist to an old idea.  The aliens were just trying to make their way and survive to get home.  They were humanized, and much more so than the actual humans in ‘Battleship.’  While we have a slight backstory these characters are given no real reason to survive other than to not die.  While that is big enough in and of itself, it doesn’t make for that much of a compelling story.

All in all, ‘Battleship’ was a decent idea from its inception.  There was potential to have a solid film.  That potential was squandered in every way possible and instead we are left with a movie that has more going on it than just about any I can think of, yet still remains to be incredibly boring.  If there’s a positive it’s that the movie doesn’t take itself incredibly seriously and does have a sense of humor.  Beyond that, nothing.

This movie is definitely NOT worth your time.

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