- Starring: Taylor Kitsch (John Carter), Liam Neeson (Taken), Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood), and Rihanna
- Directed by: Peter Berg
- Synopsis: “Peter Berg (Hancock) produces and directs Battleship, an epic-scaled action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force. Inspired by Hasbro’s classic naval combat game, Battleship stars Taylor Kitsch as Lt. Alex Hopper, a Naval officer assigned to the USS John Paul Jones; Brooklyn Decker as Sam Shane, a physical therapist and Hopper’s fiancee; Alexander Skarsgard as Hopper’s older brother, Stone, Commanding Officer of the USS Sampson; Rihanna as Petty Officer Raikes, Hopper’s crewmate and a weapons specialist on the USS John Paul Jones; and international superstar Liam Neeson as Hopper and Stone’s superior (and Sam’s father), Admiral Shane.” (Collider)
- Rated: PG-13 for intense action sequences and violence and some language
Battleship is a mediocre attempt by Hollywood to create a plot-filled movie based solely on a childhood board game. I did say “mediocre,” and plot fills very little of it. Battleship is not nearly as horrific as several online reviews would claim, BUT, if you are hoping for it to be amazing and epic, allow me to sink those expectations immediately.
Through mankind’s ignorant (?) and insistent search for extraterrestrial life, a hostile alien force locates our planet and then proceeds to bring destruction to our world with extreme prejudice. Only, they did not count on being held up by the unlikely hero of the film, the brash Lt. Alex Hopper. Hopper partners up with members of the Japanese Navy and other veterans of war on one surviving battleship to fight the superior destructive forces of the aliens. Yep, that is EXACTLY how I remember playing the game “Battleship” as a boy.
Here is the good and the bad of Battleship:
1. The special effects are impressive, while the plot remains rather hokey and full of disbelief.
2. The tribute to the U.S. Navy and the veterans who served is touching, but Rihanna’s acting and one-liner dialogue is less so.
3. Taylor Kitsch seems to channel 2009’s Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk, while Brooklyn Decker does nothing more than look pretty and confused.
4. The aliens are the most interesting part of the movie, however, there is not enough of them.
5. It is a fun action/adventure, but you have to shut off your brain to enjoy it. (Summarizing the true definition of “amusement”: “muse” meaning “to think” with the prefix “a-” meaning “against” or “not.”)
The film really is a film we’ve seen before. Perhaps just a bit more explosive. Don’t believe me? Let me describe Star Trek for you in a slightly spoileristic way:
Through the influence of a family friend, a brash and overconfident young man – without a future – joins the established militaristic force where he learns leadership skills and teamwork but barely yields to the instruction. His brashness leads to quite a bit of trouble and he finds himself in the not-so-good graces of commanding officials. While on a semi-routine mission, trouble strikes from an alien race which causes the incapacitation of all in command…finding our unlikely hero to be the ranking officer. Forced to assemble a hodge-podge crew and with the help of some with experience, the brash acting-captain must put aside his emotions and self-reliance and work with his team to defeat the invading aliens that are bent on destruction. With several in-the-nick-of-time moments, our captain always has a plan that works and is able to save the day after fighting aliens in hand to hand combat, working with unlikely allies, and hoping to impress the fatherly mentor who sees his potential. And, on top of all of that, he tries to balance his love life.
See? That’s Battlesh…er, I mean, Star Trek! I mean…well, you get the point.
With those things in mind, the movie didn’t just remind me of Star Trek (and I’m not really complaining about that), but the influence from the company that brought us Transformers is easily seen. It keeps the same signature look and feel for Battleship. There really is quite a bit that is reminiscent of Transformers (and not just in look and feel, but also in plot and idea). Because of, or in spite of that, Battleship sinks to the level of “Amusing, yet forgettable action flick.”
Oh well. Who knows? Perhaps they will focus more on the aliens in the upcoming Chutes and Ladders movie! (I’m kidding!!!)
My Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars for Battleship
NOW, last week I reached out to Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club and asked her to watch Battleship and give me her thoughts. I did so, because I was searching for a person who hadn’t seen any of the Transformers films, and thereby was not tainted by the influence of Michael Bay’s over explosive films. Below are her Transformer-free thoughts. Thank you, Paula, for providing yet ANOTHER different look at Peter Berg’s Battleship.
Battleship…It was not what I expected from the trailer, i.e. no character development, all-CGI, boring. There was some character development, and a ton of CGI, but we really enjoyed it. It won’t change anyone’s life but it has some real suspense and humor.
Many of the visuals reminded me very much of PEARL HARBOR, which Michael Bay directed of course…the way it’s lit, warm (humans) vs. cool (aliens), the way battle scenes are framed, the scene when the Old Salts come out. This isn’t really a bad thing, I think PH is a beautiful film. The aliens, their capability to shut down electromagnetic fields, humans’ use of analog technology, etc. reminded me of INDEPENDENCE DAY. The scientists’ part of the narrative reminded me of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.
The way they integrated the actual board game into all of this was pretty darn clever.
I think the writing was fairly strong for this kind of movie. The introduction of Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), was pretty funny but effective in showing how impulsive he was. I liked some of the casting touches…they got an actual paraplegic veteran (Gregory D. Gadson) to play the paraplegic veteran, and for the lead scientist on the space signal project, they got an actor with huge ears (Adam Godley). Don’t know what anyone else thought of Rihanna, I think she did OK.
I thought the patriotism was a little heavy-handed at times. A bit like Top Gun for the Navy.
–Paula’s Score: If I had a rating system, I’d give it a solid 3.5 out of 5. The half-star is for the believable chemistry among the crew.
There ya have it! A dual-review for Battleship.
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer